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Porterdale candidates discuss issues at forum

PORTERDALE - A week before a special election is set to be held in Porterdale to fill the vacant Post 3 city council seat, the four candidates vying for the office addressed residents' concerns at a forum held Tuesday night at the Mill Lofts.

The candidates - Arline Hayes Chapman, James Himes, Jack Loyd and Wayne Maddox - each spoke about their qualifications and what they would like to accomplish should they be elected to the seat.

Chapman told residents they would be taking a "giant step" for the future of Porterdale if they elected her to the seat and made five pledges of things she would work for on the council.

Included in these pledges are the following goals: maintaining fiscal responsibility; studying the city's residential growth and implementing policies that will benefit the town; work with the nonprofit group Friends of Porterdale to aid in the restoration of the historic gym; work in cooperation with council and mayor to get the Georgia Department of Transportation moving forward with the intersection improvement project at Ga. Highway 81 and Crowell Road; and to seek state funds to create a documentary about Porterdale and the mill workers who helped build it.

"I sincerely love this community," she said in closing. "It's my hope that in time, with progress, we can have pride in our community."

Not making any specific campaign guarantees or promises, James Hines said he believed there are many issues facing the city that need to be addressed.

"The future of Porterdale hangs in the balance on a multitude of issues," he said.

Among some of the more immediate problems Himes said he would like to address if he is elected to the council are traffic and improving parking conditions, seeking more commercial growth throughout Porterdale and securing state funds for different projects.

"Porterdale will have a bright future," he said, adding, however, that the council and residents will have to work for it. "I will do whatever it takes to get things turned around for Porterdale."

Although he admitted he didn't have the credentials that some of the other candidates have, Loyd told the gathering of voters he knows Porterdale and what he believes needs to be done to make the historic mill town a better place to live.

"I was born here, raised here and I'm proud of it," he said.

Loyd pointed to three specific things he would like to work on with the mayor and council to accomplish should he win the special election - getting rid of a small drug element that exists in the city, working with landlords and homeowners to fix up dilapidated housing and establishing some programs for the city's children to keep them from "walking the streets."

"Until we do that ... Porterdale's still going to have a bad name," he said.

Loyd ended his statement to residents by encouraging them to participate in their city government.

"We have to get more people involved in this community," Loyd said.

Maddox, a former Porterdale mayor and city councilman, told the crowd he had resided in the town for nearly 60 years and that he's seen it when it was "booming" and when it started to decline.

"I've always been part of this community," he said. "I plan on spending the rest of my life (in Porterdale)."

Maddox vowed to take the problems and concerns of residents before the council and get them an answer, whether it was the response they were looking for or not.

"I'm the same person I've been all my life," Maddox told the audience. "I'm not running against these people ... I'm running for the city council."

The special election for the council post, as well as a referendum for the sale of distilled spirits by the drink, will take place next Tuesday at the Porterdale Fire Department. Presidential Preference Primary voting will take place on the same day at assigned precincts.