Price, Buice take part in Hogansville forum
Published 5:57 pm Wednesday, October 4, 2017
On Tuesday night at the Hogansville Public Library, candidates for mayor and city council took part in a political forum.
The forum was hosted by the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce and the Troup County Republican Party and the Troup County Democratic Party.
In Wednesday’s newspaper, we wrote about the mayoral debate between Winston Herren and Bill Stankiewicz, but Valerie Buice and Marichal Price also squared off in a forum for open city council post No. 2.
Buice is the office manager at Georgia Pain and Spine Care, and Bice works for Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia. State Rep. Bob Trammel moderated the forum.
Here’s a look closer look at each candidate’s responses from Tuesday:
No. 1 ISSUE FACING THE CITY
Each candidate was asked about the No. 1 issue facing the city of Hogansville. Price said utilities, a common topic throughout the evening.
“The one thing I’m willing to do is to help get out and see if I can talk to other people and get our councilmembers to see if we can get more business in,” Price said. “Help with the business. See what we can do to get them in to get a better rate for utilities.”
Buice said the city of Hogansville is “broke.”
“I can’t tell you the companies I’ve spoken with that said ‘I’m not doing work for Hogansville because I can’t get paid,’” Buice said. “That’s not a way to be.”
FUNCTIONALITY OF GOVERNMENT
The candidates were asked if they would describe the government of Hogansville as functional or dysfunctional and how they would improve it. The candidates disagreed on this issue. Buice called it dysfunctional, and Price said it was functional.
“You can’t continue to have debt on top of debt on top of debt. You aren’t going to bring any companies in,” Buice said.
Price, on the other hand, said the government works when everyone works together.
“I think it’s functional but what we have to do is come together,” Price said. “Once we come together and get everybody on the same page and get everybody pulling the right way, not everybody pulling this way or pulling that way. All the negatives, if we keep putting that together, we won’t ever grow. What we’ve got to do is come together and get everybody on the same idea so we can move forward.”
After listening to the mayoral candidates go back and forth about the cost of utilities — one of the most talked about issues throughout the night — both city council members were asked their thoughts on the subject. Price said he believes the utility rates are fair, but he said the housing has to be improved.
“A lot of the housing that is being rented, a lot of them don’t have good insulation,” Price said. “It’s not up to date with where it needs to be at.”
Buice said the rates are too high. She said her rates were lower when Diverse Power was her utility company.
“You may bring more houses in here that may help the utility rate, but how long is that going to take?” Buice said. “They may bring these houses in here, and these people may say ‘I’ve got a $200,000 house, I’ve got a $1,000 payment and a $800 utility bill. Sell this house. I’m gone.”
The candidates were asked how they would attract new businesses to the city of Hogansville and how they would support current businesses in the city. Price said he would tell new businesses that more homes are being built.
“If new business wants to come in, we can tell them we are building more homes, so more people come in,” Price said. “They won’t have a long way to travel. They can stay in the city and have a good job and they won’t spend as much money on gas back and forth.”
Buice said the city needs to make itself attractive to new businesses.
“New business, you’ve got to make it attractive,” she said. “I know Mr. Stankiewicz wanted to buy the bank building to make a tourist thing so people could see what’s in the city, but when you go down the streets it doesn’t look like that. You’ve got to make it attractive.”
She recommended going to the businesses in Hogansville and asking why they’ve stuck around and what they like about Hogansville.
“See what they think is wrong, but [ask] why they are staying,” she said.
Buice said she once had a business in Hogansville, but wouldn’t own another one right now. She said the license fee is high.
Both candidates said they’d support the upcoming SPLOST vote.
“I support the SPLOST. When we drive through and the grass is overgrown over the side of the curb, and you have to pull out so far to see where you are going — we can use the money to clean up the city and make the city back beautiful again,” Price said.
Buice said she also supports SPLOST but wants to ensure the money is being spent the way it’s supposed to be.
“SPLOST is a good thing to me, but it needs to be spent for whatever it’s allocated to be spent for,” she said.