The Union Recorder

Election 2013

October 30, 2013

District 5 Q&A: Pam Beer

District 5 City Council challenger Pam Beer and her husband, Pat, have lived in Milledgeville for 16 years.

District 5 Q&A: Pam Beer

Pam Beer and her husband, Pat, have lived in Milledgeville for 16 years. They originally moved to Milledgeville when Pat was still in the U.S. Army and was assigned to Georgia Military College. When he retired a few years later, he accepted a job offer to continue working at GMC. They have been married 37 years and have two sons. Her first job in Milledgeville was working for the Chamber of Commerce, but she left there to go to work at The Baldwin Bulletin, where she served as editor for more than 12 years.

Q: Why should citizens of your district vote for you?
A: As a member of the City Council I would use all the connections and relationships I developed while I was at The Bulletin to help me be the best possible representative of ALL the people in this district, and of the city as a whole. I would be a tireless and dedicated servant to the people of Milledgeville, who I know will vote for their City Council representatives based on the content of their character and not the color of their skin. I have a passion to work for Milledgeville, which, as an Army brat who has moved all my life, I consider my “first and last hometown.”

Q: How would you define your job as mayor/councilman/councilwoman?
A: I think that a council member has two levels of responsibilities. Being responsive to inquiries and complaints from your constituents — and doing your best to resolve their issues — is an important part of the job. A council member also has a responsibility to the city as a whole. This entails developing policy to allow for vibrant, responsible growth, managing city assets conscientiously, and forging a mutually respectful working relationship with the county for the betterment of all citizens.
Q: Will you support allowing a unification measure to go to ballot for citizens to decide — yes or no? Please explain your answer.
A: I have always said that I support the people’s right to choose the type of government by which they’ll be governed. However, I believe we need to have the best possible version of a proposed charter drawn up – with as much input from as many segments of the population as possible — before the citizens go to the polls to vote on unification. Early on, supporters of unification in general told me they could not guarantee they would support Milledgeville-Baldwin County unification until they read the charter, because the charter will lay out all the important details of how the new government would run.  I find it distressing that some of these same people are now urging people to support unification NOW, even if there are questions and concerns about the proposed charter, because the charter can always be changed later. Deciding on the document — and the form of government — that will rule us demands more than this. Let’s take as much time as we need to come up with the most thoughtful, inclusive, comprehensive proposed charter that there can be, and THEN put unification on the ballot for the citizens to decide.
Q: How will you implement your vision for Milledgeville?
A: As I said in the candidate forum last month, my vision for Milledgeville in short form is this: Milledgeville is a vibrant city, where all citizens have a voice; where there are decent jobs for those who need them; where all people can get the services they need; and where there is no animosity among our elected officials, but instead an agreement to put personal agendas aside to work for the common good. In order for our citizens to have a voice, I would like to establish a policy that allows public comments during City Council meetings. The county took that step a couple of years ago, and I think it empowers our citizens to believe that they have the ear of their elected officials. The quest must be never-ending to attract new industries and businesses to settle here. I would continue the financial support of the Development Authority as they relocate to the soon-to-be-finished Elks Building, and would like to see a City employee, possibly one of the two city planners that are funded in the budget, given the job of searching for businesses that the community would have the greatest chance of recruiting and that would have the most favorable impacts on our community, and reaching out to them to see if they would be interested in locating some of their operations here. I know such searches are long shots, but we need to do everything we can to find more jobs. But it is also crucial to continue to support our existing businesses and industries, from largest to smallest, because they’re the ones providing jobs NOW for our citizens. The city and county must put aside their differences – forgive and forget all old animosities and grudges – and truly work together for the common good of all Milledgeville and Baldwin County citizens. We need to end the finger-pointing and the squabbling. Whether we continue with separate city and county governments or the people vote to consolidate into one government, our elected officials all have to put the citizens’ needs first, dump all their old dysfunctional baggage, and work together for the people.

Q: What should the city do to address emergency service issues/concerns with the county?
A: I believe, if the city’s concerns about dropped calls coming into the E-911 center are addressed, we only need one 911 center. The fire department radio issue is so convoluted I’m not sure anyone except for the city managers, mayor and County Commission chair really have the whole story. There needs to be a series of joint City Council-County Commission meetings held on these specific issues, with anyone who has anything to do with any aspect of these operations required to attend, so that all the council members and all the commissioners hear the same information at the same time. Only then can informed, mutually beneficial agreements be reached.
Q: Do you feel the city’s ethics policy makes a strong enough statement? Should changes be made to the policy?
A: I think the ethics policy works — it provided the structure needed to address the complaint filed this summer. If future complaints are brought forward that highlight gaps that need to be addressed in the policy, changes can be made as needed.
Q: What, if anything, do you feel the city should have done differently in handling its first ethics complaint under the new policy?
A: I think it has taken much too long for the issue to be given to the City Council for consideration. I would hope that it is not because a delaying tactic is being employed in order that the council member who committed the violations leaves the council before a decision has been made.
Q: How can city officials strengthen communication between city and county leaders and departments?
A: Again, I believe we need to hold more joint City Council-County Commission meetings. City and county leaders need to redouble their efforts to keep their council members/commissioners well informed of discussions taking place outside their presence.
Q: As a member of Council, how will you support the Central State Hospital redevelopment efforts?
A: As a taxpayer, I am proud that the City financially supports the CSH Redevelopment Authority. I believe that at this point in time, the CSHRA is our best and brightest hope (along with the Communiversity) to bring new quality jobs to town. As a council member I would support the continued financial support of the Authority, continued funding for a lobbyist in Washington, and travel and promotional efforts required to make sure the CSHRA’s efforts stand the best chance of success.
Q: What is your view of the chain of command in city government and who holds city officials accountable?
A: I’m not completely sure exactly how the chain of command in city government is supposed to work. As a reporter who covered city government for more than 10 years, I could tell you how it SEEMS to function — while the city manager, mayor and city attorney seem to have complete knowledge of every issue that arises, some of the council members seem less informed. As far as who holds city officials accountable — I’m not sure of that either. The city manager told me a couple years ago that he relies on council members to let other council members know if they’re doing something unacceptable. While I understand there are difficulties inherent in a system where an employee (in this case the city manager) is tasked with policing the actions of his employer (the council members), I believe it is part of the job responsibilities that come with the city manager’s title and paycheck. In the past, stories in the local newspapers have brought transgressions to light, but it seems it was left up to each individual whether or not to correct his or her deficiencies. I am glad that the ethics ordinance allows citizens to take part in the accountability process.
Q: How will you support the Milledgeville-Baldwin County Communiversity project at the former Shaw building and what other efforts can be made to retain young professionals in this community after they graduate?

A: I believe it would be wise for the city to develop a package of incentives targeted at the businesses that take root in the Communiversity project, in order to make it easier for these businesses to establish themselves and get on firm footing. These may take the form of abatements for a variety of fees and taxes, perhaps on a sliding scale and decreasing as the business matures. In all the research I’ve done, I’ve found that the top factor in attracting and keeping young professionals in a city is the availability of jobs where these professionals can utilize their college degrees while offering attractive salaries and benefits. There is no easy fix available to make Milledgeville into the type of city that regularly retains its best and brightest. The Communiversity is a step in the right direction, giving young entrepreneurs a place to incubate new businesses. However, we must identify the type of companies and industries we want to attract (that offer the kind of jobs and salaries these young people want) and then figure out what we need to have to attract these businesses to Milledgeville. These include an educated work force, which means Baldwin County would need to address its literacy issues, graduation rate, and the SAT scores of graduating seniors.


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Election 2013
  • District 6 Q&A: Steve Chambers

    Incumbent Steve Chambers, 56, is married to Teresa Wilkinson Chambers.

    November 4, 2013

  • District 6 Q&A: Andrew Strickland

    Challenger Andrew Strickland has been involved in public service for the past 10 years, delivering emergency care to the sick and injured as a paramedic.

    October 31, 2013

  • District 5 Q&A: Daniel McDonald

    Challenger Daniel McDonald, 32, is a graduate of the University of Georgia and an AmeriCorps alumnus who moved to Milledgeville in 2008 to report on local government for The Union Recorder.

    October 30, 2013

  • District 5 Q&A: Pam Beer

    District 5 City Council challenger Pam Beer and her husband, Pat, have lived in Milledgeville for 16 years.

    October 30, 2013

  • District 5 Q&A: Richard Mullins

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  • District 4 Q&A: Walter Reynolds

    Walter Reynolds is a lifelong resident of Milledgeville and Baldwin County. He is a graduate of Baldwin High School and Georgia Military College.

    October 29, 2013

  • District 3 Q&A: Denese Shinholster

    Incumbent Denese R. Shinholster is currently one of the senior most elected officials serving in city government.

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  • District 3 Q&A: Phillip Smith

    Phillip Smith is a native of Milledgeville. He grew up on the south side of town in Hardwick, near Central State Hospital. He is married with two children and works as a business manager.

    October 28, 2013

  • District 2 Q&A: Jeanette Walden

    Incumbent Jeanette Walden, District 2, is running unopposed.

    October 25, 2013

  • District 1 Q&A: Dr. Collinda Lee

    Incumbent Dr. Collinda Lee, District 1, is running unopposed in the Nov. 5 Municipal Election.

    October 24, 2013

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