Ward One aldermen candidates respond to questions on the issues
Editor’s Note: Today, The Daily Leader begins a question-and-answer series highlighting candidates participating in Brookhaven’s upcoming municipal elections. Today’s responses are from Ward One alderman candidates competing in the Democratic primary. There are no Republican or independent candidates in the race. Four of the five candidates participated in the questionnaire. Randy Belcher did not submit responses. Responses appear as submitted by the candidates.
1. When voters go to the polls on June 4 to elect municipal officials, they will also have the opportunity to legalize the sale of alcohol within the Brookhaven city limits. If voters do legalize liquor sales, the Board of Aldermen must make a choice: The board can either restrict alcohol to by-the-glass sales in restaurants or allow package stores. If elected, which option will you support? What are the benefits of the option you favor?
Robert Berry: If the citizens of Brookhaven choose in favor of legalizing the sale of alcohol I support that decision. I think it is the only fair thing to allow the citizens to decide; therefore, I will also go to the citizens of Ward 1 and ask what type of sales they prefer, and I will vote according to the majority opinion. I don’t think that I should impose my will on the electorate.
Dorsey Cameron: I will make my decision after the voters decide whether or not they’re going to legalize liquor sales.
Christopher Harris: I will support the decision of the voters. It’s all about keeping the revenue in our city, and giving the citizens of Brookhaven a chance of having a voice.
Kermit Sartin: This is an issue that would be voted on; therefore, I feel it would be my duty as the spokesperson for the citizens of Ward 1 to hear their views on this matter. I will hold a community forum with the citizens of Ward 1 and allow them to express which option was on their minds when they had cast their vote. The immediate benefits would be an increase in tax revenue for our city, and the long-term benefit, hopefully, will be that large franchise restaurants, such as Dave & Busters, will decide to bring its business to this great city.
2. What do you see as the most significant infrastructure needs in the city? Given the still struggling economy and tight finances the city has faced, how would you go about prioritizing these needs?
Robert Berry: I think the most pressing infrastructure needs in Ward 1 is the need for resurfacing the roads and dealing with the poor sewage in the Brignall area. There is also a drainage problem in most of Ward One where the drainage ditches and culverts have not been cleaned and maintained properly. I think that we should look for any and all federal and state grants that we might be able to obtain to try and help solve these needs.
Dorsey Cameron: I think the most significant infrastructure needs in the city are water and sewer. In order to get this done, we’re going to need federal and state grant money.
Christopher Harris: Unity. Unity is the answer. For United we stand divided we fall. We need this in our community and in our churches. Events, functions and anything that would unite the citizens of Brookhaven that would give them a chance to be heard and their needs would be a start.
Kermit Sartin: I think roads, sidewalks, and utility services are the most significant infrastructure needs in the city. There are several worn-out roads that need to be resurfaced, and there are a few dirt roads that need asphalt. In addition, we are in dire need of sidewalks, especially on main thoroughfares and school zones. Also, there are citizens in the annexed areas who don’t have adequate utility services. I view all three of these infrastructure issues as “top priority!” Currently, I wouldn’t know how to prioritize those needs until I’m aware of the amount and types of resources that are available.
3. What opportunities do you see in city government to cut costs and ease the taxpayers’ burdens?
Robert Berry: We should always look to alleviate any and all wasteful spending. We also need to make sure there are not any types of fraud being committed that cost the taxpayers.
Dorsey Cameron: We have implemented this by working with less employees, and we’re still able to accomplish our tasks effectively. We have also been working each year with our insurance agents to keep our insurance premiums as low as possible for the city.
Christopher Harris: No comments at this time.
Kermit Sartin: I believe effective planning and execution with a sense of urgency would eliminate an excessive amount of the city’s expenses. Also, the city could apply for more federal and state grants to offset the costs of specific projects. Furthermore, there should be an equal disbursement of the budget amongst the six wards, and the mayor and alderman-at-large should receive a smaller portion which would eliminate double or triple financial support within a single ward. I understand that the economy is struggling, but goals can be met through cooperative execution.
4. In your opinion, what could improve Brookhaven the most? How would you as an alderman make this possible?
Robert Berry: Jobs. This is the best way to improve our community. Make sure that our citizens have good and decent jobs so that we can raise the median household income. If we do that everybody wins and our citizens can provide and better and more prosperous life for their families and the city will be able to have more tax revenue to meet the needs of its citizenry.
Dorsey Cameron: It has always been my passion to build a community center for our young people. I would vote to allocate money in the budget for this along with applying for grants. The mayor, board, and Chamber of Commerce need to work together to bring better paying jobs to Brookhaven.
Christopher Harris: 1. Jobs opportunity for our youth and our Vets. 2. A promising agenda of taking care of our Elders (Senior Citizens) as well as our homeless. First find out what resources are there to help with this.
Kermit Sartin: The availability of jobs and opportunities would improve our city the most. For example, if citizens are making a sufficient amount of income, they would be willing to spend more monies on shopping, family outings, recreation, and entertainment. I would make this possible by attracting more businesses to the city, and I would promote higher learning to ensure that job candidates have the necessary skills and qualifications for specific jobs. In addition, I would concentrate on strengthening and expanding the current resources.
5. What are your reasons for seeking this office and why should voters elect you to the board?
Robert Berry: I am a lifelong resident of the Brignall community in Ward one. We were just part of the county government but then we were annexed by the city of Brookhaven. All my life I have seen the promises made to us that went unfulfilled. We have roads that are in terrible disrepair and a sewer system that is third rate at best or even nonexistent. These are just a few needs. I want to be a can do alderman that is assessable all the time, not just during an election. I want to be proud of my community.
Dorsey Cameron: The reason for seeking this office is because I am certified, qualified, and experienced in this position. For the past sixteen years, I have proven to the voters in Ward 1 that I am reliable by being there whenever they needed me. If I am re-elected, I will continue to be there for them.
Christopher Harris: To be a voice for those who feel they have no voice or feel they don’t count. I feel I am just as qualify as those already in office or those who running. Not only a Honorable Veterans, but an husband and father but a citizen who love his city and the people in it. That’s why voters should vote for me.
Kermit Sartin: I am seeking this office to serve as a catalyst for positive change for the citizens and small business owners in Ward 1 and the entire city of Brookhaven. I want the citizens to know that they have a voice and have a right to have their voices heard as it relates to Ward 1 and the great city of Brookhaven. Citizens should elect me to this office because I’m highly visible in the community, loyal, dependable, honest, and a young man who is full of energy; I’m ready, willing, and able to take a stand for positive progress of the City of Brookhaven.