PORTERDALE -- Terry Barnes, a native of Porterdale who returned to live in the town about five years ago, is making his first foray into politics with a bid for the City Council Post 3 seat.
Barnes will face opposition from another newcomer, Tim Savage, in the Nov. 8 municipal election. The successful candidate will fill the unexpired term of Arline Chapman, who resigned to seek election as Porterdale mayor.
Barnes, who retired after 30 years at General Motors in Atlanta and who now works as chief custodian at Livingston Elementary School, said he decided to run after becoming involved in the Friends of Porterdale, a non-profit group that works to preserve the historic integrity of the mill village. Barnes said he attended the Porterdale Reunion and some meetings of the Friends of Porterdale and his interest grew from there.
Barnes said he would like to see the city improve on the Yellow River Park and continue to work toward rebuilding the Porter Memorial Gymnasium, which burned in 2005. The gym renovation is a major project of the Friends of Porterdale.
"It may be rebuilt and it may not, but it won't be because we didn't try," Barnes said of the gym.
Barnes said he is also interested in revitalizing downtown Porterdale and would like to recruit a grocery store to the area. A benefit of expanding the city's tax base would be that the city would be able to restore employees to full-time work. Employees are now taking furlough time each week as a cost-cutting measure.
Barnes is also in favor of maintaining the Porterdale Police Department's K-9 program.
"I really do like the K-9 program," he said. "We're getting that for about free, and a lot of cities are paying high dollar for that."
In addition, Barnes said he would work to attract light industry to property that the city owns along Covington Bypass.
Barnes described Porterdale as "a gem in the rough," and said the council needs to address the amount of rental property in the city.
"There are so many absentee landlords and the property is allowed to run down.
"It can go one of two ways," Barnes said of Porterdale's future. "It can fall down on its face or it can be brought back up. The economy is holding us down right now, but I believe it can be done."
If elected, Barnes said he believes he would work well with other council members.
"It would be different if I was going in as an outsider," he said. "I know everyone on the council and I get along with all of them."
Barnes' campaign efforts include putting out signs and going door-to-door, meeting with residents of the city.
Barnes is a member of the First United Methodist Church of Covington. He has one son who lives in Covington.