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Carter concerned with walkability, greenspace

Maurice Carter

Maurice Carter

Name: Maurice Carter

Age: 54

Years living in Covington: Nine

Education: Peachtree High School; bachelor of arts in journalism from Georgia State University

Profession: Delivery project executive with IBM Global Business services, 17 years, responsible for profitability, client satisfaction, has managed budgets of up to $120 million and global teams of up to 270 employees across 16 countries.

Family: Wife, Kim

Community Service: 2009 and 2010 President’s Volunteer Service Award from the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation for work with: Newton County Trail Path Foundation Inc., Washington Street Community Center, Smart Growth Newton County, Tourism Advisory Committee, Covington/Newton County Chamber of Commerce, Covington Conyers Cycling Club

In three sentences or less, please state why you are running for this seat:

“The Covington City Council has become tactically focused and reactive, to the detriment of long-range priorities. With extensive recent turnover among the city’s professional staff and department heads, we need thoughtful, proactive leadership to shift our energies to forward-thinking efforts for economic development and quality of life improvement. I have the professional experience, vision and collaborative skills to get things moving forward again.”

Please identify what you view as the top three priorities for the city of Covington in the next four years and please be specific about how, if elected, you would take action to address those priorities:

“Economic Development – I will press for clear plans and strategies to boost retail business in Covington. We have specifics that need to be addressed, such as utility rates that disproportionately burden commercial businesses.

“Increasing Quality of Life Choices – To attract young professionals and retain our own young people, we must offer diverse options for making a complete life here. That means more restaurants and shopping, green space, parks, and passive recreation and walkable streetscapes in live/work/play settings. I will renew the council’s focus on studies already completed and projects identified for the Highway 278, Pace Street and Washington Street corridors. I will be proactive in pursuing those visions and plans, doing all I can to end the practice of sitting and waiting for better days to find us.

“Building a Sustainable Future – We must seek out opportunities that address our long-range objectives, while confronting head-on the issues that threaten our overall goals. As a council member, I will make strategic thinking and results-orientation essential ingredients in how we run the business of the city.”

Please identify what you view as the top three challenges for the city of Covington in the next four years and please be specific about how, if elected, you would take action to address those challenges:

“Barriers to retail business recruitment – We can sell our strengths and highlight the unique small-town charm, rich history and tourism assets of our community. Tourists bring disposable income to help offset what we lack in buying power. But, in parallel, we must address the underlying causes of pervasive poverty. Housing is one key element the city has started to address through public/private partnerships with specialized developers. This needs to continue with stronger council backing … Transportation also matters, in that jobs and other life essentials are not always within reach of those without reliable transportation. In our planning, I will stress the importance of live/work/plan development that puts more employment options within walking distance.

“Overcoming the loss of experienced leadership – While not necessarily related, the retirement of City Manager Steve Horton was the first in a series of departures creating openings in key leadership positions across the city. The finance director, utilities director, transportation director and Main Street Program director positions have all been vacated in the last year. While not city employees, turnover of several key positions at the Chamber of Commerce has also impacted efforts to recruit and retain business for the city… I will encourage the city manager to establish development programs and succession planning to ensure we are always ready to deal with key leadership changes – planned or unplanned.

“Building a productive city/county partnership – It’s been evident in recent years — on key programs like economic development, Main Street, tourism and SPLOST — that city of Covington and Newton County leaders are not always pulling in the same direction … I will bring fact-based assessments, straight talk and win-win thinking to my relationships with other leaders in the community.”

What, in your opinion, are the top three quality of life issues that must be addressed by the council and how do you propose to do so?

“Insufficient retail/dining choices downtown – Our lack of shopping and dining choices is a quality of life issue that impacts current residents and discourages young professionals with other options from relocating to Covington. This in turn impacts industry recruitment and retention … it comes down to selling our strengths while confronting and improving our weaknesses.

“Inadequate green space for passive recreation – the Comprehensive Plan for the Newton County Recreation Commission details the extent to which we fall below established standards for such amenities in a community our size… I will push to make green space and passive recreation a priority in city plans, in our partnership with other local governments and in the establishment of future SPLOST priorities.

“Barriers to Walkability – Covington has great elements with our centrally located Square flanked by shops and restaurants, with housing extremely close by. But, our main roadways into and through downtown are poorly built for pedestrians, bicyclists or golf carts. Recent pedestrian deaths on Jackson Highway, Washington Street, and U.S. (Highway) 278 show just how dangerous it is … I will work to ensure we keep walkability at the forefront of our plans for downtown and the surrounding community. I will resurrect and reinforce plans already established for US 278, Pace Street and Washington Street. I will emphasize the need for pedestrian planning in all new development projects.”

Please tell the voters why you believe you are the most qualified candidate for this position:

“I have a clear vision and the professional experience necessary to lead our city forward to grow our local economy, improve quality of life choices, and ensure a sustainable future for Covington … I’m a sincere person, a man of substance, and I’m ready to serve.”

Citizens can contact Carter by calling 678-516-5212, email maurice@electmaurice.com, www.facebook.com/electmaurice or at www.electmaurice.com.