Editor’s Note: In an effort to help Covington voters make an informed choice when they head to the polls beginning Monday for early voting, the Citizen asked Covington City Council Post 1, East Ward incumbent Chris Smith and his opponent, Maurice Carter, about their priorities and plans if elected. Each candidate submitted written responses. Some answers have been edited due to space constraints. Early voting for the Covington Municipal Election begins Monday at the Newton County Board of Elections, located in the Newton County Administration Building at 1113 Usher St. Hours are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Early voting closes on Friday, Nov. 1. Polls are open from 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. at Covington City Hall on Election Day, Nov. 5.
Name: Chris Smith
Years living in Covington: 45
Education: Newton High School graduate, 1986; EMT school and paramedic school, DeKalb Tech
Occupation: Co-owner and president of Newton Electric Supply, since 1996, worked there part-time as a teenager. He runs the day-to-day operations at two locations in Covington and McDonough, responsible for all receivables and payables.
Family: Wife, Gidget, daughters, Ashley and Kristi
Community involvement: Member of advisory board for paramedic program at Georgia Piedmont Technical College; city of Covington representative for Newton County College and Career Academy; chairman of administrative board and member of finance committee at Covington First United Methodist Church.
• In three sentences or less, please state why you are running for this seat:
“I feel that I am qualified to hold this office, for I have been a friend to the taxpayer with a proven track record. I do have some unfinished business that I would like to see through such as the CNG fueling gas station, our airport expansion, and the fire training facility, to name a few.”
• 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:
“Taxes — I have and will continue to be your conservative voice on the City Council. We have increased the cash reserves by $2.5 million in the first four years I have served.
Attracting business/retail — We have moved Main Street to the Chamber with tourism. I believe that with us partnering with the Chamber we will continue to attract industry/retail that will lead to jobs.
Airport — What an asset to our city. As we grow our tax base here, we must continue to support the efforts going on at the airport.”
• 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:
“Poverty — we must continue to work with community leaders, churches, after school programs, etc., to help educate and move our residents from a situation no one should have to experience.
The county — We must continue to work with all municipalities, and our county. The Leadership Collaborative is working well; we need to continue to work together for the betterment of all.
Utilities — I will continue to work hard for you to do all that is possible to keep costs to our customers as manageable as possible, and will fight to reduce any utilities when the opportunity arises.”
• 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?
“Trails — As most of you know, I do not support the rails to trails, because we simply cannot afford it. Too many unanswered questions, but I do support trails and sidewalks in our community. I was a big supporter of the trail from Eastside High School to the library, the city portions of that trail were over $275,000, which I voted for.
The fairgrounds (referring to Legion Field) — The potential on the property is so exciting. It is a space that can be enjoyed by all of Covington.
Downtown — We have a beautiful downtown. I want to see the Square continue to be very active and have events for our citizens to enjoy.”
• Please tell the voters why you believe you are the most qualified candidate for this position:
“We are moving forward, taking care of the affairs of today, and planning for a brighter and bolder future. The city of Covington has been and still is a great place to live and work. I want to continue to be an active part of the future as your East Ward councilman. I want and need your vote.”
Smith said citizens who want to contact him can reach him on his cell phone at 770-560-2903.