PORTERDALE -- Mayor Bobby Hamby said his experience as mayor will be important to the town as it navigates some tough decisions in the next four years.
Hamby is seeking re-election Nov. 8 to the post he was first elected to in 2005. Hamby said he believes his experience as both mayor as a member of the City Council prior to serving as mayor, make him the best candidate for the job.
"Experience is very important," Hamby said. "By having the experience I do, I already understand how government works and how to go about getting assistance for the town.
"The mayor's job is to promote and represent the city, and that's what I've tried to do for the last six years and hope to do for the next four years," Hamby added.
The economy -- and the resulting decrease in revenues -- is the toughest issue facing the city right now, Hamby said.
"Until the economy comes back and property values start to rebound, there are going to be some tough decisions to be made," Hamby said.
In the last budget cycle the city instituted employee furloughs and eliminated positions in the Police Department and Public Works Department in order to reduce spending. While citizens have expressed concern about the reduction in police coverage, Hamby said it comes down to how much money the town has to spend.
"We'd always like to have great police coverage," Hamby said. " ... but that coverage comes at a cost -- what are the taxpayers willing to pay for?"
In addition, Hamby said cuts in the Public Works Department have also impacted the city. He said he supports increasing volunteerism in the town to help maintain landscaping and improve the town's appearance.
Projects that Hamby said he would like to see move forward in the next four years are development of the Porterdale Yellow River Park and improvements at the intersection of Ga. Highway 81 and Crowell Road.
Hamby said development of the park would draw more people to Porterdale on a daily basis, which would in turn help support revitalization of the downtown area.
"We all want downtown revitalized," Hamby said. "But with the economy as it is today, people are reluctant to open new businesses because there's not enough traffic to keep the businesses open."
Since serving as a city council member Hamby has been involved in working toward improvements at Highway 81 and Crowell Road, easily the busiest intersection in Porterdale. Hamby said that there have been some delays over the years, but the project is now set to begin in the fall of 2012, with funding through Porterdale's special purpose local option sales tax dollars and Newton County.
"Hopefully, that will stay on track and we will see progress by this time next year," he said.
City infrastructure is another area that will have to be addressed in the next few years, Hamby said. Since the early 1990s Hamby said the city has worked to replace aging water lines but now needs to begin work on storm drains and sewer lines.
Reconstruction of Porterdale's historic Porter Memorial Gym is another project that has been on the city's drawing board for years. The gym burned in 2005. Hamby said the city lacks about $200,000 in funding needed to put a roof on what remains of the structure. Once that happens, Hamby said he believes contributions to the reconstruction will increase and give the project some momentum.
"That gym was the heartbeat of the town," Hamby said. "I think we need that place now, a place where we can gather on a regular basis and have entertainment and recreation."
Hamby was born in Porterdale in 1949 and grew up in Covington. He and his wife Debra have lived in Porterdale since 1980. They have one grown son who lives in Covington. Hamby served on the Porterdale Fire Department for 25 years, 21 of those as chief. The Hambys are active members of Porterdale Baptist Church and in American Legion Post 32 in Covington.