2013
10.28

2013 Election

On November 5th, LaFayette voters will choose the city’s first new mayor in a generation. Pharmacist Neal Florence, Mayor since January 2, 1991, decided his current year in office would be the last. With the race wide open for the first time in decades, three candidates threw their hats in the ring in hopes of becoming Florence’s replacement.

Qualified candidates for mayor are perennial candidate James Mashburn, current City Councilman Andy Arnold, and businessman Mike Lovelady. Mashburn apparently has no e-mail (LU was advised to call him, which doesn’t work for this interview format), but Arnold and Lovelady both responded to their respective e-mail questions.

This is the final LU Q&A for the 2013 election; early voting continues weekdays 8:30-4:30 through this Friday; actual election day will be a week from Tuesday, November 5th.

LU: What is your full name, and what name do you generally go by?

Arnold: Phillip Anthony Arnold – go by Andy

Lovelady: Michael Anthony Lovelady, Mike or Michael

Mashburn: [Not Contacted]

 

LU: What is your age?

Arnold: 54

Lovelady: 55

Mashburn: [Not Contacted]

 

LU: What is your home address?

Arnold: [Redacted by LU] Alpine Drive

Lovelady: [No Response]

Mashburn: [Not Contacted]

Per public records, Lovelady owns several residential properties in the county, but apparently lives on South Main St. Mr. Mashburn owns a home on West Shore Drive off McCarter Rd. near Queen City Lake.

 

LU: How can voters contact you or stay in touch with your campaign?

Arnold: aarnold@cityoflafayettega.org

Lovelady: Email: mal.csci@gmail.com Facebook: Michael Lovelady

Mashburn: [Not Contacted]

 

LU: How long have you lived in LaFayette? Where else have you lived?

Arnold: Resident of LaFayette for 30+ years and grew up in Rock Spring, GA

Lovelady: Born and raised in Rock Spring through high school. Other residences: Metro Atlanta, Orlando, Cincinnati, Boston

Mashburn: [Not Contacted]

In 2007, Mashburn described himself as “a lifelong resident of Walker County.”

 

LU: How does the Queen City compare to other places you’ve lived, or to other communities you’re familiar with?

Arnold: LaFayette is in a beautiful natural location and is filled with wonderful, friendly people. It is a great place in which to live and work.

Lovelady: Less populated, lower median income, much more peaceful and serene

Mashburn: [Not Contacted]

 

Mayor Candidate James Mashburn in 2008

 

LU: Starting as early as you want, what kind of education do you have?

Arnold: Graduate of LaFayette High School
B.A. in Political Science & Master of Education Degrees from Jacksonville State University

Lovelady: Rock Spring Elementary, LaFayette Jr. High, LaFayette High, Georgia Institute of Technology (Ga Tech)
Bachelors of Electrical Engineering

Mashburn: [Not Contacted]

 

LU: What other jobs or elected positions have you held

Arnold: LaFayette City Council – 12 years
LaFayette Housing Authority Board of Directors – 4 years
Teacher/Coach at LaFayette High School – 27 years
LaFayette Coca-Cola Bottling – Cooler Svc. Mgr. 4 years; Sales Mgr. 2 yrs

Lovelady: DDA Chairman, City of LaFayette; Councilman, Mayor Protem, Acting Mayor, City of Norcross

Mashburn: [Not Contacted]

Candidate Mashburn owns Mashburn Tree Service in Ringgold. He’s previously had unsuccessful runs for LaFayette city council and mayor, in 2007 and 2009.

In addition to his government positions, Mr. Lovelady owns several companies manufacturing and installing electronic locks for prisons, and is principal owner of LaFayette businesses One Eleven, Chattanooga Street Tavern, and Mars Theater District.

 

LU: What will your education and experiences contribute to make you a better Mayor?

Arnold: Having experience in the business world and in education, along with 12 years on the city council, gives me a well-rounded perspective when dealing with the many issues and challenges facing the city.

Lovelady: I feel that my engineering background as well as my experience as a business owner provides insight as to the issues faced by businesses today as well as provide a solid basis for problem solving. My public experience and training will provide insight to the programs available to assist the city as it grows.

Mashburn: [Not Contacted]

 

LU (Lovelady Only): In 2006, while a city councilman in Norcross, you were accused of going “over-the-top” in enforcing city ordinances against businesses. Last December you accused LaFayette of failing to enforce city codes in West LaFayette, and you’ve pushed for stricter “historical district” zoning for parts of the city. Once elected Mayor, what kinds of code/ordinance changes would you like to see in place, and what will you do to make sure those codes are enforced consistently? How can city property owners be sure you won’t be “over the top” in regards to rules here?

Lovelady: First, let me clarify that I was not responsible for enforcement. Enforcement was the responsibility of the Marshals Department. Prior to the city going to a City Manager form of government, each councilman acted as department head for various departments. My responsibilities did include General Government (finance), Community Development, and City Marshal. Prior to my taking office, the city faced a high vacancy rate in its downtown, retail districts outside the downtown had been allowed to fall to decay and the Marshal was not allowed to enforce codes equitably. In addition, certain developers were allowed to come in and fill in streams designated as state waters without proper EPD permits and many of our historic structures were being mowed down slowly eradicating the assets which attracted people to our town. There was evidence of bribes and kickbacks ultimately resulting in the resignation of some city employees. City Hall was actually raided by the GBI a few years prior to my taking office. Myself along with a new council put checks and balances in place to prevent this level of abuse from recurring and the Marshal’s Department was allowed to enforce the codes equitably. When the Marshal’s Department made a call in compliance with the codes, I stood behind them (as Harry Truman once said, “The Buck Stops Here”). The results of the initiatives and programs I supported with the council at that time have resulted in a vibrant downtown with virtually no empty storefronts. Relative to LaFayette, I believe that we have instances where our municipal codes need to be reviewed and updated. If the codes are in place they should either be enforced equitably or changed if they are no longer applicable. The current council has done this as issues arise, but I favor a more proactive approach of code review and updating prior to making piecemeal revisions especially for those sections of code that are antiquated and no longer relevant.

Unfortunately Mr. Lovelady did not detail exactly what code/zoning changes he would prefer to see the council pursue. Per city sources, updates to zoning laws are already being worked on for the same reasons stated here. However the council has not sough to establish stricter historic district rules Lovelady and other members of the Historic Preservation Committee and DDA were asking to implement.

In 2007, Mr. Mashburn spoke out against building codes, saying “codes being enforced are choking out the progress of our city.”

 

Mayor Candidate Mike Lovelady

 

LU (Lovelady Only): In Norcross you had a business, or several related businesses, which built and installed electronic locking systems for prisons. The companies you (and your son, and a close friend) owned or controlled had contracts doing millions of dollars a year with GA Department of Corrections, but in 2011 the state inspector general suggested some of the contract work had been obtained unethically through “conflict of interest” between the various businesses. Can you explain this situation, or the accusations, and any resulting impact on the company/companies? In light of the Inspector General’s report, can the people of LaFayette still trust your ethics?

Lovelady: The Office of the Inspector General is an agency that is appointed by the governor and is utilized to investigate various government agencies. It is not an enforcement agency and has no jurisdiction over the private sector. As anyone who had read the Times Free Press is aware, there have been and still remain serious issues within the department. The issue arose after my son bought out a company in 2010 in which I previously had ownership in 2001. The company had contracts with GDOC which had been bid based on specifications written by me under contract with GDOC. Prior to the buyout both my son and I approached GDOC with concerns that there would be a perceived conflict of interest in order to ensure that the department would have no issues. GDOC reviewed the matter and determined that no conflict existed. The Inspector General’s office determined that GDOC should have required the disclosure in writing. The matter was forwarded to the GBI as well as the Attorney General’s office which performed a year long formal investigation. Both the GBI as well as the Attorney General’s office found no wrong doing on behalf of either company.. At the time of the investigation, GDOC was well over 6 months delinquent on payments and had been placed on a COD basis. Currently, CESI still does business with the State of Georgia and does not and will not do business with GDOC under the current adminstration. Over the 15 year of doing business with GDOC both companies won contracts typically at 40-50% less cost than the second lowest bidder. The fact that this matter was thoroughly investigated including all personal and business transactions over a five year period and resulted in the determination of the accusation being without basis should give the public confidence in my character.

As he says, the Office of Inspector General doesn’t enforce law, it just inspects various contracts and the way state agencies are run. OIG issues recommendations to those agencies based on its findings. However, the full, final OIC report shows this situation was far more complex than Lovelady admits in his answer.

The report suggests Mr. Lovelady, his son Gary, and a business partner misled GA Department of Corrections about the ties between their three businesses in order to dodge rules about conflicts of interest. It also suggests Lovelady, as a consultant, structured bids for GDC that favored his other operations, and possibly lied under oath about the businesses’ common ownership.

While the GBI and State Attorney General’s Office may have decided the OIG report was wrong and initial complaint “without basis,” no documentation of that has been provided by the candidate, and LU was unable to locate any further information or updates beyond the OIG’s initial lengthy, troubling report.

 

LU: The position of Mayor, at least in LaFayette, is seen as being mostly ceremonial; a figurehead who only votes in a tie, who signs documents and cuts ribbons. What are your thoughts on the role of Mayor for LaFayette, and why are you choosing a run for that office over a position on City Council?

Arnold: While those points are true, the mayor also has responsibilities, including appointing council members and citizens to various committees. The mayor represents the city in a myriad of ways and is vitally important in promoting the city while providing support and leadership to the council.

Lovelady: While the mechanics of the office of mayor are similar to those you have mentioned, the job does entail a great deal more. The mayor is the face of the city and as such should be seen as being proactive in promoting the city as both a great place to live and a great place to do business. The mayor should be involved in community programs and activities, establishing intergovernmental relationships as well as helping to build consensus both with the residents as well as the council. It is a position of leadership and I strongly feel that the best leadership is leadership by example.

Mashburn: [Not Contacted]

In LaFayette, the biggest power granted to a mayor (beyond ceremonial duties, signing legal documents, breaking ties, and moderating meetings) is committee appointments. The mayor can appoint anyone he wants to a long list of advisory committees, including Downtown Development Authority, Airport Committee, Utility Committee, Ethics Committee, on and on. Currently the elected council has no input or control over who sits on those boards, and the current mayor has made some highly questionable choices for some of them.

 

LU (Arnold Only): A handful of citizens (and occasionally the Underground) have been critical of your ability to judge character, and hesitance to push against bad city employees or department heads.

You initially recommended Tommy Freeman as Public Safety Director and (at least publicly) said nothing about his leadership during the five years he ran LPD before being fired. Likewise, you seem to have fully supported now-terminated City Manager Johnnie Arnold (unrelated) even during the Richard Moore/Richie White/Tommy Freeman debacles, which resulted in lawsuits while doing major damage to the city’s reputation and ability to function. In light of your (apparent) support for those men, can the people of LaFayette trust you to have good judgment about committee appointees, and can we trust you to draw the line when an appointed leader or committee member needs to be replaced?

Arnold: No decision to hire or terminate an employee is ever taken lightly. I always try to approach every situation thoughtfully and carefully, gathering all of the facts possible in order to make the best decision for the citizens of LaFayette as well as for the employee. Many times the ‘fact-gathering’ process takes longer than I would like, but I would rather take the time to try make sure we are making the right decision rather than to make a decision in haste.

Laws limit how much elected officials can publicly say about situations with employees, and LaFayette has rules prohibiting council members from being directly involved in decisions to hire or fire most workers. However, the council does control who fills the City Manager’s office, has the authority to ask for investigations of misdeeds, and can restructure departments that continually have problems. Andy Arnold seems to have been unwilling to take any of those steps during periods of crisis throughout his dozen years as a councilor. Hopefully as mayor, Arnold would be more proactive in screening and (if necessary) removing appointees.

In 2008, Mashburn – between his two prior runs for public office – stood up in a council meeting to demand the resignation of (now former) councilman Norm Hodge, after Hodge was arrested for having alcohol in his system at a football game in Dalton. (By contrast, the council, including Arnold, never took any formal action about Hodge’s behavior.) Mashburn would likely not be afraid to speak his mind as mayor.

 

LU (Lovelady Only): As Mayor, you’ll be representing the city publicly, be called to run meetings in an orderly fashion, and be a “visionary” for the town. That requires cooperation and unity with the council, city manager, city employees, and other government leaders like County Commissioner and state legislators. Considering the amount of strife you’ve had with some members of the Downtown Development Authority and several instances of head-butting with current city leaders (including last Monday’s [10/14] council meeting), will you be able to set aside differences and be the unifying statesman-like figure a Mayor is expected to be?

Lovelady: First let me say that I am not aware of any ‘strife’ within the Downtown Development Authority or instances of ‘head-butting’ with city leaders. During my nearly two year tenure as DDA Chairman, the DDA and Mainstreet board were able to accomplish more than it had in the previous seven years. These accomplishments included new bimonthly and annual promotional events, creation of a park, acquisition and placement of the city owned caboose, establishment of the first Downtown Development Revolving Loan Fund, grant awards, as well as the establishment of an Opportunity Zone to encourage new business development. My leadership style is not and never will be the ‘Good ‘ol boy go along to get along’ type. As many as there are differences in individuals there will be differences in opinion. Liberty in the expression of ideas as well as liberty in the ability to debate and discuss issues is what makes an effective government. The key is to be able to engage one another through civil discourse, create a plan of action and work toward that goal together. In the council meeting you refer, I was spokesman for a group of merchants and while initially there may have been differences in opinion amongst council regarding the subject at hand, I believe that I was able to build consensus through civil discussion and debate to result in a decision that was beneficial to the city and ensure the safety of the attendees.

During Lovelady’s time on the DDA there has been some strife, or perhaps simple drama, and multiple resignations from authority members – including Councilman Chris Davis. Some of the projects DDA has worked on have been very beneficial, some less so, but it’s hard to say the DDA under Lovelady has been completely without strife and conflict.

Standing up for what’s right in the face of opposition is a good thing (something Councilman Arnold apparently has trouble with), but it seems Mr. Lovelady sometimes confuses what’s right for LaFayette with what’s right for himself – his recent stepping on toes of the City Manager and council members for a street closure being one example. Conflict between the DDA (under Lovelady’s direction) and Music on the Square over who should control an annual downtown concert is also an example of causing conflict for no good reason.

 

LU: Do you feel the city is currently run as well as it should be? What are your thoughts on the city’s current condition, both socially and economically?

Arnold: The economic downturn in 2008 has caused financial difficulties in the city just as it has in the rest of the country. Some adjustments have been made but more are necessary.

Lovelady: The answer to the first question would be no. City government is run by mankind and inherits all of the frailty of mankind. Therefore, there is always room for improvement and always will be regardless of the administration. Two years ago, I feel that the city was lacking cohesion and was often split among socioeconomic lines. I feel the community building events as well as the new social venues that have sprung up have helped bridge some of the gap. Economically, the median income of our residents is low and needs to rise. This can only be accomplished through the creation of new business. We have seen over the last two years with the efforts of the DDA new business growth within our downtown area.

Mashburn: [Not Contacted]

 

LU (Arnold Only): What do you consider your greatest accomplishment as a council member? What, in hindsight, would you say is your biggest mistake?

Arnold: I cannot pinpoint one specific decision or vote that stands out above all of the others. Every decision is important. As far as mistakes, I am human and make my share. I assure you that I don’t make mistakes on purpose.

 

LU: Once elected Mayor, what will be your first priority? What are your long term goals over the following four years?

Arnold: The first priority is selecting a City Manager. Long term goals include providing the citizens of LaFayette the best possible services at the best possible price, working to attract new business, and continuing to beautify the city.

Lovelady: My first priority would be to review where we are financially and see if there are areas which we can improve. Granted, I believe that the current administration has diligently looked at this but it is always good to have a fresh set of eyes look at these things and forward any ideas or suggestions to council for discussion. Other priorities include:
1. Increase our competitive posture in order to attract both businesses and consumers to come to our city.
2. Foster a more inclusive city by reaching out to those sections of the city that feel disenfranchised.
3. Ensure that the city remains economically viable by working with the city manager and council to both control our spending and open new revenue streams.
4. Promote programs to engage our youth as well as opportunities to encourage them to remain or return to community after completing their education.
5. Encourage public participation in their government as well as improve transparency.
6. Develop a better working relationship with both our county and state officials and share resources to improve our business and residential communities.

Mashburn: [Not Contacted]

 

LU: As Mayor, what will YOU do to attract business and encourage job growth within the city?

Arnold: I will work diligently with local, state, and federal officials to make the most of opportunities to improve our infrastructure, including roads, to make our city more attractive to new businesses.

Lovelady: The office of the mayor does provide a platform to which the media does utilize. That being said, I believe that the most effective action that I can take is to use that platform to promote not only the events in the city but the opportunities as well. The goal should be to have positive press in the media several times per month in order to raise awareness regionally about LaFayette.

Mashburn: [Not Contacted]

 

LU (Arnold Only): Candidate Lovelady, who owns two restaurants selling beer and wine, has stated his support for selling liquor inside city limits. At various times in the last few years, you’ve voted for AND against beer sales in different venues. What are your current thoughts on beer and wine sales (which are now legal in LaFayette), and how open are you to allowing packaged or by-the-drink liquor?

Arnold: Beer and wine is as far as I would like to see it go.

In 2009, Mashburn said he opposed the sale of alcohol in any form: “always have [been] and always will be.”

 

LU (Lovelady Only): You’ve expressed concern on several occasions about parking problems in the downtown area, and were at one point pushing for parking meters along the downtown square. As Mayor, what are your plans to improve the parking situation?

Lovelady: First, let me stress that at no time did I push for parking meters in the square. That would be an assumption. As I have stated prior, the best solutions come from presenting ideas for discussion and debate. There are various improvements that can be made ranging from wayfinding signage to restriction on long term parking during peak days. I would recommend having the DDA forward recommendations and work with council to come to a resolution.

To clarify, the Downtown Development Authority – under leadership of Mr. Lovelady – suggested parking meters as a possible solution to downtown parking issues. The city council took no action on that suggestion. The term “push” might be too hard, and it wasn’t Lovelady himself, but it seems that the idea came from him in some form or another, to benefit his restaurant on the square which has (or had) far more tables than parking spaces.

Please note that he did not directly answer the last part of this question about his own plans or thoughts on fixing the parking problem.

 

LU: LaFayette Police Department is a huge part of the city’s annual budget, and the department is crucial to keeping residents and businesses protected. Are you satisfied with the way LPD is currently run and the job its officers are doing? How confident are you in Chief Clift?

Arnold: Chief Clift and the officers of the LPD have my support, as do all of the departments.

Lovelady: I can only speak of my own personal experience and what I have learned in talking with others during this campaign. I do believe that we can always improve our services. There are areas in the city that we need more preventive policing in the form of patrolling. I also believe that we are missing an opportunity to build better public relations with the public during a lot of our city sponsored events. These opportunities range from having a presence at these events as well as utilizing informational booths and exhibits to help educate the public in areas ranging from crime prevention to drug awareness. In my interaction with officers, I will say that three officers come to mind that I would match with some of the best I have worked with both through my business as well as my tenure in Metro Atlanta. Insofar as Chief Clift is concerned, I have not had enough interaction with him to have an informed opinion. I would say that if I had any concerns with PD or its leadership, that those discussions would have to be had with the city manager. It becomes a slippery slope when elected officials circumvent the management hierarchy to intervene or influence departments directly.

Mashburn: [Not Contacted]

Mayor Candidate Councilman Andy Arnold


LU (Arnold Only): Many city residents have been hit hard by increasing electric bills. Can you explain the city’s current situation with utility costs (especially electricity) and your role in decisions about utility pricing?

Arnold: The City of LaFayette is mainly revenue-based rather than property tax-based, meaning that the majority of the city budget comes from the sale of electricity, water, sewer and gas. Unfortunately, just as the cost of gasoline for our cars has drastically increased in the past few years, so has the cost of utilities. I serve as chairman of the Utility Committee, and the committee worked many hours and considered all possible options before raising electric rates.

 

LU: What are your thoughts on the amount of money LaFayette spends each year on the golf course and airport? Are these continuing expenses justifiable in light of the current economy, infrastructure needs, and rising energy costs?

Arnold: Many times through the years, and from various civic and business leaders who were involved at the time, I have been told that Roper came to LaFayette because of the airport and the golf course. These are two amenities that help attract and keep businesses and offer a benefit to citizens far beyond the cost of operating them.

Lovelady: Both the airport, as well as the golf course, are assets that should be more effectively marketed for the city. I do believe that certain aspects of these should have a cost benefit analysis performed to see if there would be a benefit to privatize all or part of them. Certain aspects of operation such as food service is typically a business that I personally do not believe a government should be directly involved in. The airport provides a vital service to certain aspects of the business community and properly marketed could be utilized to bring in more similar businesses. The golf course is an amenity that provides a recreational outlet to both the young as well as the old in surrounding community. It is also something that serves the business community as well. As with all budget items, this is also one that should be reviewed and modified as necessary to fit within our financial constraints.

Mashburn: [Not Contacted]

 

LU (Arnold Only): During your time on LaFayette Council, the city spent nearly $1 million on a softball complex and about $2 million for a new clubhouse at the golf course. How do you justify these costs, in light of the city’s infrastructure problems, and in hindsight were those expensive projects handled the right way?

Arnold: Both were designated SPLOST projects.

SPLOST projects are decided by members of city leadership, including councilmen. The golf clubhouse and softball fields were both approved by the council before construction began. The softball field project, particularly, was a disaster that consumed nearly $1 million in SPLOST money which could have been used for roads or other more pressing needs.

During construction, one council member (not Mr. Arnold) admitted that costs for the ball field project were soaring and the city had failed to include budget caps on the contractor involved. While Andy Arnold did not directly decide every aspect of the work, he was a member of the council which completely failed to set up proper cost controls or oversight for the fields and refused to pull the plug on their construction when the waste became obvious.

 

LU (Lovelady Only): You serve as Chairman of the Downtown Development Authority. DDA has been involved in several beneficial programs in recent years, including sponsoring Movies in the Park and setting up the new park on Patton Street. DDA also obtained a low-interest loan from the state, which was used to improve properties you own in West LaFayette. Do you feel it’s appropriate for an agency partially funded by the city to use state money in a way that benefits its director financially?

Lovelady: I do not feel that it is inappropriate as long as certain critera is followed. In my particular case, we consulted with both the city attorney as well as the Department of Community Affairs regarding this issue. Both agencies agreed that there was no issue as long as the rules of recuse were followed. I am in essence the guinea pig in this experiment. As the city has never set up a DDRLF funding source, this is a learning experience in order to better utilize it to promote revitalization. The DDRLF is not a grant but rather a loan source similar to an SBA loan. Currently, this process has not been completed for my particular project. In clarification, none of my projects or businesses has used tax dollars as a funding source. This exercise opens opportunity for other small businesses to follow suit in much the same as Rome has done.

 

LU: What are your thoughts on the SPLOST vote? Are you happy with the city’s SPLOST project list, and will you personally vote for the 1% sales tax to be renewed?

Arnold: SPLOST provides money for projects that would either not be possible or would have to be funded by the citizens of LaFayette. I approve of the varied projects on the city’s SPLOST list and will personally vote yes for the 1% sales tax to be renewed.

Lovelady: I think that the SPLOST vote will be close this year. While I may not agree with everything on the project list presented by the county, I do think that the current administration has formulated a project list that will have a positive impact on our city and help stimulate our local economy.. For this reason, I personally support this round of SPLOST,

Mashburn: [Not Contacted]

 

LU (Lovelady Only): Your higher profile businesses in LaFayette (One Eleven, Chattanooga Street Tavern, Mars Theater District..) seem to be rather speculative. Some have suggested, or suspect, these operations lose money, and your motivation for setting them up isn’t profit, but influence. Do your various LaFayette businesses at least break even, and if not what are your reasons for keeping them open??

Lovelady: The profitability of these privately held entities are not for public disclosure. I will say that anyone familiar with the food service industry will tell you that it takes at least three years to reach a breakeven point. I do feel that these businesses do serve a vital purpose and benefit the city. I am not sure how it could be interpreted that any of these projects were motivated for influence or who or what they could possibly influence. They have had a positive effect and have actually encouraged several new upstart businesses to begin here. The One-Eleven and Mars Theatre projects and subsequent business have injected over 1.5 million dollars into the local economy. If that is the type of influence you are referring to, we need more of it.

The kind of influence suggested would be the political kind. The kind where someone spends a lot of money in a beneficial way, then points to that spending as a reason voters should support a candidate or agenda.

Yesterday One Eleven announced it will no longer operate as a restaurant, per October 31. The facility will only be used for occasional “private events.” Apparently the three-year “breakeven point” will not be reached and he’s throwing in the towel less than two years after the eatery opened. Another closed (or mostly closed) business on the downtown square can only have a negative influence on the surrounding area.

One Eleven Closed

 

LU (Arnold Only): Do you feel LaFayette has a positive relationship with the county’s general government or is there room for improvement? Have library funding problems and sales tax conflicts made things better or worse between the city and county?

Arnold: I will do everything within my power to foster a mutually beneficial relationship with county government and look forward to seeing the library in its newly refurbished building.

That’s an admirable goal for the future, but says little to the current state of city-county relations. By most accounts, that relationship is pretty poor – mostly because of the county.

 

LU (Lovelady Only): In 2006 you were voted off the Norcross city council, and in 2007 lost a campaign to become Mayor of the same city. Shortly afterwards, you, your son, and your business(es) relocated to LaFayette. If your efforts to run for mayor of LaFayette in 2013 also end in defeat, will you retain business interests and residency here, or will you consider another move for a community more interested in your leadership?

Lovelady: In neither the 2006 nor the 2007 elections was I disappointed in the results. In the end, Norcross got a fine mayor who along with the city council continued and enhanced many of the programs and initiatives that I started. In reality, the mayoral election was a close race and not winning it gave me freedom to return to my home. I moved here not to seek any type of leadership role but to return home, to be close to my parents and to enjoy a more peaceful and relaxing lifestyle. If defeated in this election, I will continue as I have to promote my hometown and work to help make it a better place to live as I have since my return.

 

LU: What personal beliefs, philosophy, or other criteria will you use as a guide for making decisions as Mayor?

Arnold: I believe that it is the responsibility of elected officials to always first consider what is best overall for the city and its citizens.

Lovelady: Being an elected official is not about power or glory but truly about public service. It is the same ideology that John F Kennedy inspired when he said “ Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.” As an elected official, the decision making process must be guided not by how this benefits you or whether it may impact your chances of reelection if desired but instead is guided as to what is best for the entire city and its residents, not just one particular section over another.

Mashburn: [Not Contacted]

 

LU: What sets you apart as the BEST candidate for Mayor? Why, in general, do you deserve voter support?

Arnold: Lafayette is my home and where my heart is. I want to see LaFayette prosper and grow while still maintaining its small-town charm.

Lovelady: I feel that I have the public service experience combined with business experience needed to help grow our city and tap into its potential. I have demonstrated the desire and ability to work tirelessly both with the business community as well as our community organizations and residents. I have a proven track record of initiating programs that work and benefit the community and continue to work after I am gone. I have demonstrated the ability to bridge cultural divides and unify people even with opposing views. I work well with the media and other government entities alike. My track record locally with the DDA demonstrates that I am a proactive leader that can build consensus amongst various people that gets results.

Mashburn: [Not Contacted]

 

LU: Is there anything else the community should know about you? Family, faith, philosophy, inspirations, etc.?

Arnold: Married to Teresa for 32 years; three sons and two daughters-in-law; Deacon LaFayette First Baptist Church.

Lovelady: I was raised in the church and I am Baptist by denomination, Christian by faith. I enjoy working with people to help them realize their full potential whether it be in their personal lives or in their business aspirations.

Mashburn: [Not Contacted]

This is the most heated and most discussed of LaFayette’s three city political contests, and the reasons are made pretty clear by the answers (and some of the LU questions) above.

A trusted, deliberative, and consistent experienced councilman whose inaction has occasionally led to disaster; vs. a polarizing figure with definite plans and goals whose ultimate intentions might be more for his own benefit than for the city’s. Both raised in Rock Spring, sharing the same middle name, almost the same age – but almost polar opposites otherwise. (Mashburn in this race, just like in this Q&A, is essentially a non-factor.)

In this race, LU does not fully endorse any candidate – but does suggest the current council and mayor work to revise the city charter to restrain future mayors’ abilities to appoint people without oversight or input. Preference leans (moderately) towards Councilman Arnold.

Election Day is November 5th. Early voting is being held every weekday 8:30-4:30 now through November 1st at the Walker County Courthouse elections office.

Other 2013 Q&A’s: Ward 1 | Ward 2

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  1. For the record, Mr. Lovelady says if elected he will retain his current hairstyle AND school-janitor-looking massive keyring.

    –LU