3 candidates vie for two Sebring council seats
SEBRING - Sebring voters Tuesday will elect two city council members for three-year terms. They will choose between incumbent council members John Griffin, 69, and Scott Stanley, 59, and political newcomer Lenard B. Carlisle, 63. The two top voter-getters will fill the two seats. Highlands Today asked the three candidates questions about why they are running for office along with some biographical details. Name: Lenard CarlisleAge: 63 Married: not married Occupation: Worked for Living Water Services Inc., (citrus irrigation) Q: How many years have you served in an elected position and have you served in any other elected or appointed government positions? A: Never served in an elected position, but have served on the city's code enforcement board. Q: What organizations do you belong to? A: None, but have been ordained by the New Testament Church and Mission. Q: Why do you want to serve or continue serving as a council member? A: Carlisle said he has wanted to seek office previously. His work and family situation now permit him to do so. "I have always wanted to be a part of it and do something for the community. I have the time. I think we need new blood and I have some ideas and I want to give it a shot." Highlands Today asked all the candidates questions on the sale of Harder Hall, whether Sebring should start annexing like Avon Park, if the city will start a recycling program if it keeps its solid waste collection and if there is anything the present council should have done differently. Carlisle said that he has no answer for these questions at this time. "I do not know all that the council has done to get where they're at on any of these things. I'm sure there are things that have made them handle each one the way they have. I will look forward if I'm elected to look at each one and do what I think would be best for our city that I love." Name: John T. Griffin Age: 69 Married: to Jeanne Griffin for 43 years, widowed in May 2010 Occupation: Owner and operator of Griffin's Carpet Mart for 35 years Q: How many years have you served in an elected position and have you served on any other elected or appointed government position? A: Served on the Sebring City Council for 14 years and was founding commissioner of the Sebring Community Redevelopment Agency, serving on the board for 12 years as chairman and vice chairman Q: What organizations do you belong to? A: Belong to Elks, Lions, Knights of Columbus, the Historic Preservation Board, Tourist Development Council, Keep Highlands Beautiful and the Recreation and Parks Advisory Committee or RPAC. A: Why do you want to serve or continue serving as a council member and what do you feel are the priorities for the next three years? "I want to continue to serve as a council member to help the city run efficiently. I want to apply my business experience of running a successful business to lower the taxes and find the best use of the tax dollars to benefit our city. "Since I have been on the council, we have lowered the millage from 6.5 to 4.99. We started the Sebring Parkway and obtained $8 million in grant money to invest in downtown Sebring. "My priorities for the next three years are to promote smart development and lower taxes. To bring growth to our downtown with businesses, restaurants and housing. To implement a recycling plan for the city and keep the solid waste department run by the city. I also feel it is important to maintain our police and fire departments and to improve city parks, pier beach and recreation facilities." Q: Avon Park has been doing a lot of annexing to promote growth. Is this a direction in which Sebring should move? A: Should Sebring promote growth through annexation? I feel if a specific area wants to annex into the city and it is in the best interest for both parties, then I am in favor of annexation. I am not in favor of arbitrarily annexing areas into the city. Annexing requires more police and fire (protection), which can raise costs and that is not always in the best interest of the taxpayer. Q: Is there anything you feel city government should be doing better? A: "I feel the administration and employees are doing a great job running the city of Sebring. There is always room for improvement and talking to elected officials is one way that residents and businesses can have their voices heard. I hope that by being elected the residents will utilize me as their councilman as a special board to their concerns or suggestions. We are always willing to listen to the taxpayer and consider ways to improve." Q: How do you feel about how the city has handled the sale process for Harder Hall? A: "I feel the city is doing its best to sell Harder Hall. The market has been in a slump for the past few years. Recent numbers will show the market is growing stronger. The challenge with Harder Hall is we need a developer who can take advantage of the grants available for a building of its stature. It is a historic building that can qualify for many different grants and we just need the right developer to come along. The city and CRA are currently working on a campaign to sell that the property, but was delayed due to the interest from two developers recently." Q: If the city retains solid waste service, should it move toward recycling? A: "Retaining our city-run solid waste department and starting a recycling project is very important to me. I have been a member of Keep Highlands Beautiful for the past four years and participate in recycling both in my business and home. When Highlands County starts their recycling program, the city should start at the same time. This will save the city money and is a good investment for the future of the city and the county." Name: Scott Stanley Age: 59 Married: to Cynthia Stanley Occupation: Engineer/president Scosta Corp.NWhat organizations do you belong to? American Society of Civil Engineers, Georgia Tech Alumni AssociationOccupation: engineer/ president, Scosta Corp. Q: How many years have you served in an elected position? A: Six years on the Sebring City Council. Q: What organizations do you belong to? A: American Society of Civil Engineers, Georgia Tech Alumni Association. Q: Why do you want to serve or continue serving as a council member and what do you feel are the priorities for the next three years? A: "I want to continue serving as a councilman because I believe the priority of city government is to provide the necessary services at the least financial impact to citizens. This can be achieved and property taxes lowered at the same time. This has been accomplished during my tenure on city government." Q: Avon Park has been doing a lot of annexing to promote growth. Is this a direction in which Sebring should move? A: "If appropriate properties request annexation into the city of Sebring, I would be in support." Q: Is there anything you feel city government should be doing better? A: "As I have learned in managing my businesses, it is a series of incremental improvements that make an organization efficient and successful. I would continue to be on the lookout for these optimizations throughout all city departments." Q: How do you feel about how the city has handled the sale process for Harder Hall? A: "The city will be successful in selling Harder Hall when the economy and real estate market rebound from this recession." Q: If the city retains solid waste service, should it move toward recycling? A: "I believe that recycling should be voluntary and not compulsory."