The Union Recorder

July 29, 2012

Candidate Q&A: Johnny Westmoreland

The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — How would you address issues related to county code enforcement as it relates to blight and properties that are not kept up and maintained within your district?

This issue is very important to attract growth to our district and county. To my knowledge, there is no ordinance in place to enforce. I would like to work with District 5 leaders such as pastors, business folks and other folks within the neighborhoods to develop a plan of action that would work for our district. Involving the people will empower them to do better and take pride in their community. In addition, I would work with the other county commissioners to develop a plan and policy which would address this situation county-wide. A partnership between county government and the citizens will be critical to correct this situation.

How do you propose eliminating issues related to the county convenience center?

The decisions made by our county officials to close the convenience centers and their rational for their decisions are unknown to me at this time, so it is difficult for me to address this without that background. However, I do see the destruction of our roads, which are caused by the heavy trucks entering our neighborhoods to pick up the trash, I see the roadways all over the county strewn with trash which has blown out from the trucks and most importantly, everywhere I go, the number one question I am ask is “What are you going to do about this trash situation?” This will be one of my priorities when elected as District 5 County Commissioner. This trash situation must be revisited and improved. We cannot continue to ignore the voices of the citizens.

What qualifies you to represent your district? What sets you apart from the other two candidates in this race?

I have 37 years of experience from my employment with Robins Air Force Base — from the “worker bee” to management level. I know how to get the job done! I have also been attending County Commission meetings for the last two years simply because I wanted to be knowledgeable of our county business. I have gained valuable knowledge on many issues through this process. I have created a working relationship with the county officials. I care about our county and our citizens. I know that most of the issues our county is facing can be solved by using the 3 C's I have been campaigning on:  1) Community: the citizens of the community must get involved at the ground level of issues relating to the county. They need to be seen and heard. 2) Communication: the community must be kept informed by holding quarterly town hall meetings to listen and discuss their concerns. All County Commission meetings should be web-archived for transparency and 3) Common Sense: We need to ask these questions on all issues presented — Do we really need it? and Can we really afford it? If either one of these questions results in a no answer I will vote NO!

What sets me apart from my opponents — I am RETIRED & READY TO SERVE!

How will you address issues regarding the county's financial deficit? Are there areas that should not be cut?

To address the financial deficit of our county I need to know how our money is being spent. All budgets within the county should be reviewed to ensure that all departments are being fiscally responsible and accountable. Here again we need to ask “Do we really need it” and “Can we really afford it?” We cannot continue to operate by spending more than what revenue is generated. Until we get the spending under control I would say nothing is “off the table”. If we have to go line by line on the budgets we must find ways to become fiscally responsible.

Are you for or against local government unification? What would you consider the strongest argument for unification and the strongest against it?

I am for local government unification. As we seek to meet the needs of the city and county we are faced with duplication of services and regulations. This becomes a financial burden for all of us. The best statement I've heard recently concerning unification comes from Eric Erickson's column in the Macon Telegraph dated July 13 — “There are an infinite number of unknown possibilities with consolidation, some are good and some are bad. What we know more than anything else, however, is where we are and where we are headed.” We must find ways to improve our city and county governments to become a more efficient county.