Three vie for LaGrange council seat

Published 7:20 pm Wednesday, August 28, 2019

In November, three LaGrange City Council seats will be on the ballot, but with two seats unopposed as of the end of qualifying week, the District 1 election will be the race to watch.

Incumbent Council Member Mark Mitchell will face opposition from Curtis Brown Jr. and LaTasha Dudley in the Nov. 5 race.  

Early voting begins Monday, Oct. 14 and will continue through Nov. 1 at the Troup County Government Center at 100 Ridley Avenue. Listed here are the candidates in alphabetical order by last name.

Curtis Brown

Brown said he felt running for office was a natural extension of his ongoing community involvement as both a local entrepreneur and a member of local boards.

“I think that LaGrange has a lot of great things that have happened, in particular over the last five years since I’ve been here,” Brown said. “What I would like to do in that process of being able to formalize policy is make sure we are planning for the future. … What I have not heard is a vision for the future. I’m not sure if we’ve discussed what LaGrange is going to look like in 20 years, 40 years, 50 years. What is the LaGrange that my children and your children are going to inherit? We create the future today, so I think there is an opportunity to have common sense policies and to take into account all the feedback and information and input that I get on a regular basis, and use that to plan for the LaGrange of tomorrow, to plan for a LaGrange that all citizens feel empowered, that all citizens feel engaged, that all citizens feel they have a stake in the future of our community.”

Brown said that he also wants to bridge artificial divides within the community by taking into account all perspectives of the community. Brown also said that now is the time to look at some of the less fun planning aspects that come with LaGrange’s recent economic growth.

“What does that [economic growth] mean for trash in our community? What does it mean for environment and sustainability of resources in our community?” Brown asked. “So, dealing with some of those harder issues. Education is always going to be an issue, and while the city council doesn’t directly influence education, I think that as a councilman, I can champion making education a priority as part of how we look at the future of our city.”

Brown also hopes to work to improve housing options in the community, help the LaGrange Police Department continue to build relationships with the community and partner with existing groups to solve problems in the community.

Brown is the owner of Build the Crowd, LLC, a business that helps entrepreneurs and communities promote ideas and projects. He is a member of the Racial Trustbuilding Initiative and Leadership Georgia. He has not previously held office, but he was part of Troup County’s most recent SPLOST campaign.

LaTasha Dudley

Dudley said that she loves the community, and she decided to run for office because there were some things that she felt could be improved.

“I want to be able to do some things with affordable housing because there is a lack of it here in Troup County and the City of LaGrange,” Dudley said. “I want to have a positive impact on sustainable and safe communities. Also, I want to make sure that there is transparency in government, so you know what is going on, and there is nothing being swept under the rug. … You are well informed with all decisions. Also, I would love to be able to implement a transportation system here in the City of LaGrange.”

Dudley said affordable housing and transportation are two of the most important issues that LaGrange faces because they impact so many other areas.

“If you can’t get around, you can’t work,” Dudley said. “For the ones that are living paycheck to paycheck — the normal folks that need a way to get to and from work, the doctor’s office, the grocery store — we don’t have any transportation here, and it is really a problem.”

Dudley said that public transportation is especially important for senior citizens and low-income citizens but would benefit everyone. Meanwhile, she said that more affordable housing is needed in the city, and she hopes to use her life experience to benefit citizens of LaGrange.

“I’ve been an educator for the last 20 years, and I am also a law student,” Dudley said. “As I’m matriculating through law school, it is becoming more and more attractive to me to get out and implement some of the things that I’ve learned in law school as well as just being a regular citizen and an educator. Just knowing a lot of the social issues of the community has pushed me into that arena.”

Dudley moved to Troup County four years ago, and previously worked for the Troup County School System. She has not previously held office.

Mark Mitchell

Mitchell said he decided to run for another term in office in hopes of continuing to make a lasting impact on the community where he and his wife grew up and then raised their children.

“Because of my 30 years’ experience as a law enforcement officer, I want to ensure that all of our citizens’ public safety needs are met or exceeded,” Mitchell said. “We are seeing many new technologies emerging that will enhance law enforcement efforts for the future. I will continue to be a strong advocate for these technologies as we move forward but will stand firm in the protection of your constitutional rights.”

Mitchell also placed an emphasis on responsible use of the city’s financial resources.

“Maintaining financial stability for LaGrange and implementing good common-sense oversite of spending is also high on my list of priorities,” Mitchell said. “I understand that every tax dollar being spent belongs to the citizens of LaGrange, and each one must be spent wisely. Assisting individuals with issues or concerns that sometimes arise out of city daily operations is also very important to me and something I take very seriously. I will always be responsive to concerns or comments.”

He said that ensuring that every citizen feels safe is his top priority.

“In my view, ensuring the public’s safety is the most important issue LaGrange faces today,” Mitchell said. “Whether it’s law enforcement services, fire services, EMS services, Emory Health Care services, WellStar Medical services or a private medical provider, they are all too often the difference between life or death. We must support these entities first and foremost.”

He said that if re-elected, he hopes to continue the work that he has done while in office.

“I hope to reduce each segment of crime throughout our communities through good sound public safety policies and support,” Mitchell said. “I will encourage affordable and safe neighborhood housing for our senior citizens in and around LaGrange as we see more seniors coming into the retirement age.”

He said that other issues like replacing aging infrastructure, reducing traffic congestion and improving the city’s financial stability are among his top priorities. Mitchell is a retired Georgia State Trooper who has served on the LaGrange City Council for almost four years.

LaGrange City Council incumbents, LeGree McCamey and Willie Edmondson, will run unopposed. Both represent District 2 in LaGrange.