LaGrange Council candidates contend for District 1 seat

Published 8:30 am Tuesday, April 30, 2024

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Relative political newcomers Forest Johnson and Darby Pippin faced off at the final forum hosted by the LaGrange Troup County Chamber of Commerce on Thursday evening.

Both candidates seek the recently vacated seat of former LaGrange Councilman Jim Arrington, who stepped down from his District 1 council seat in February to run for mayor.

Johnson is a banker at Bank of America and the son of former Troup County Historian Clark Johnson.

Pippin is a local homebuilder. She is a co-founder of DanRic Homes and currently serves as the company’s president.

The forum was hosted by the Troup County-LaGrange Chamber of Commerce and live-streamed by the LaGrange Daily News. Each candidate was given 90 seconds to answer a series of questions, with two minutes for opening and closing remarks. 

The full live stream of the forum can be found on the LaGrange Daily News Facebook page. Below are some of the questions asked and answered during the forum:


What can and should be done in LaGrange to reduce violent crime in particular as it affects the youth of the community?

“I think that it is vitally important that we give the police department the proper funding that they need to be able to attract the new police and be able to pay the ones who are already there a valid rate that is competitive to those around us,” Pippin said. “Criminal enterprise does not want to work in a place where it is unpleasant. Criminal activity is typically a business and we do not want LaGrange to be a place where that business can thrive.”

“As far as the youth, we’ve got to have good places for them to be able to spend their time, safe environments for them to find other activities and jobs where they can thrive,” she said.

Johnson echoed Pippin’s comments about enabling police but said LaGrange needs to look a better community outreach.

“We need to look at community involvement. We need to partner with leaders in our local neighborhoods. We need to figure out why we’re seeing this crime why our youth and are turning to violent crime. We’re not going to be able to get to that if we just police them better,” Johnson said. “I’m not saying we don’t need to do that. But we also need to reach out to those communities and work with our religious leaders, work with our nonprofits and really get to the root of why so many citizens are turning to violent crime.”


Do you feel elected officials should be held to a higher standard higher ethical standard than the average citizen and how would you handle a situation where those standards are called into question?

“I would absolutely believe that elected officials should be held to a higher standard. The voters, the constituents, are putting their faith in us as elected leaders and we have an obligation to live up to that faith,” Johnson said. “I think that our elected officials should be open books. I feel that anybody ever has a question of one of their elected leaders than they should absolutely be able to answer that freely and clearly without hiding things, without obscuring the truth and without obscuring the facts.”

“A lot of times in politics, the cover-up is actually worse than the crime. If you don’t have anything to hide, then you shouldn’t have any issues,” he said.

“I think that our leaders should definitely do that. They should lead. They should set an example for the people of LaGrange and should set an example for the youth,” Pippin said.

“There’s no question that we’ve got some division here. I think that we’ve got to work towards unity and I think that that starts with our government. I think that starts with the council. I think that we’ve got to work together. I might be representing District 1, but if there are problems in District 2, they’re affecting all of the citizens in LaGrange,” she said.


In your opinion, are the right city codes in place to address blight within the city limits, and should the city council be responsible for holding landlords accountable for the quality of the living conditions they’re providing to their members?

“I absolutely think that we need to address the situation here [with] the blight, the distressed properties,” Pippin said. “I’ve been working over the last year on a committee that Mayor Edmondson had appointed me to work on for just that, to address the blighted areas in our community,” Pippin said. 

“I think we’ve got to look at strategic code enforcement, strategic code compliance as opposed to just enforcement,” she said.

“I do feel that is something the city does need to look at. I think that does come down to writing codes that are effective and enforcing codes that are also effective as well. We’ve got to hold those accountable. We’ve got to reach out to landlords who are allowing poor residential experiences for the people in our community,” Johnson said. “That’s something that the city really has to look at. We’ve got to hold landlords accountable.”