Candidates make the case for their spot on the Loganville City Council

by stephen milligan - the walton tribune

Eight candidates for vying for spots on the Loganville City Council this year. The Walton County Chamber of Commerce held a forum Monday so candidates could express their views on the issues to voters.  Candidates, from left, Adam Shanks, Cathy Swanson, Bill Williams and Patti Wolfe speak to voters at Monday’s forum. Cassie Jones photo | MAK Photography

With eight candidates up for grabs and only three seats to fill, Loganville voters face some hard choices at the ballot box in November, but citizens had a chance to hear from all eight political hopefuls Monday night at the Loganville political candidate forum.

The event, sponsored by the Walton County Chamber of Commerce, saw several dozen voters gather at Loganville City Hall to hear from the prospects for the three open seats on the council this fall, with all eight candidates running at large in hopes of gaining one of those seats.

One of those candidates is Bill Duvall, the only incumbent on the ballot this time, who said he was proud to be defending his record on the council so far.

“Working with the city has been a great passion,” Duvall said. “The city council sets the direction for the city. Each of us has our talents and we combine those talents together to lead this city.”

Keith Colquitt spoke of his background working with government entities, including his current tenure on the Loganville Planning Commission, as a reason he’s qualified to take on stewardship of the city on the council.

“I feel I can give a new vision to the council,” Colquitt said. “The council is the voice of the people and I want to be that for you.”

Spring Hoffman Crowder spoke of being a peacemaker on the council who could better bring unity to a fractured citizenry.

“I want to hear from citizens and bring a fresh perspective,” Crowder said. “I want to make this town fantastic for the generations to come.”

Lisa Newberry was the other candidate with council experience, having served from one term from 2018 to 2021 before choosing not to run again to care for her ailing mother. Now she’s back seeking a new term.

“If elected, I work for the citizens, not the developers,” Newberry said. “Let’s keep commercial development out of your neighborhoods.”

Adam Shanks wants to improve infrastructure and better guide growth in the city.

“I don’t believe in rental properties or apartments, especially in city limits,” Shanks said. “I want to create more walkable areas in downtown.”

Cathy Swanson spoke of the need for managing traffic and better utilizing greenspace while promoting careful growth.

“It makes me sad to see the development encroaching on our city,” Swanson said.

Bill Williams wants to make downtown more pedestrian friendly and the council more responsive to the voters.

“I’d like to work hard for the citizens of Loganville to keep it moving forward,” Williams said.

Finally, Patti Wolfe said she felt the council needed to do more research into all its affairs to better respond to the people’s needs.

“I’m sitting here because of you,” Wolfe said to the crowd. “You are the greatest asset this city has. The council works for you.”

One issue which drew varied responses was the recent approval by the council for a new library to be built downtown, which drew both support and opposition.

“The current library is in a dangerous place and is an old building,” Colquitt said. “It’s a good start to revitalize Main Street.”

Shanks disagreed.

“I do not support the building of a new library given the state of the city’s finances,” he said. “We could revitalize the current library instead.”

Swanson agreed with Shanks.

“The current library needs updating, but we don’t have the finances for a new library,” she said.

Williams, however, said the new location is a step in the right direction for a more walkable area.

“It will help create a more pedestrian-friendly downtown,” Williams said.

Wolfe did not take a stance, electing rather to say it should have gone before the voters directly.

“All I want is for the citizens to have a voice,” Wolfe said. “It should be up to them whether we get a new library.”

Newberry took a more pragmatic view.

“The library is pretty much a done deal,” Newberry said on the already approved project. “I do not, however, support raising taxes to pay for the library.”

They also weighed in issues they felt were vital for the city to address, with traffic one of the most popular answers.

“Traffic is the biggest thing we face,” Duvall said. “We’re working on that by paving more roads and creating more turn lanes.”

Swanson also addressed traffic.

“People complain about traffic constantly,” she said. “Until we figure out the traffic between Highway 78 and Highway 20, we have to be careful about growth.”

Wolfe agreed controlled growth was the key.

“We are bound to GDOT’s (Georgia Departmetn of Transportation) likes and dislikes,” Wolfe said. “There’s not much we can do about that. Controlled growth is what we need.”

Greenspace was also a common refrain.

“We have the biggest greenspace of any city in the county right behind city hall,” Swanson said. “I’d like to see it used. I’d like to see Food Truck Fridays there. I’d like to have a farmer’s market there at least once a month.”

Shanks also identified that as an issue.

“We need more greenspace and we need more things for our young kids to do in the area,” Shanks said. “We should use that greenspace to create structured events for our families. They want things to do here in town, not have to drive to Monroe to do something.”

Finally, the candidates gave final pitches for why they should secure votes on Election Day, many of them saying they have a fresh vision or think outside the box, such as Crowder, who said she would bring a unique energy to the council.

“I have a new and different perspective and I have a lot of creativity,” she said.

Others had different arguments.

“I’ve spent four years researching everything about this city,” Wolfe said. “I’ve worked harder and done more research than any candidate up here.

Newberry pointed to her previous tenure on the council.

“Experience matters,” she said. “I will start on Day 1 as a seasoned council member.”

And Swanson said she was simply there to represent the people.

“I know how to listen to the citizens,” Swanson said. “I’m determined to get things done properly.”

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