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Three qualify to run for empty Grovetown council seat

Posted: August 16, 2014 - 11:12pm
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Blair  Valerie Rowell
Valerie Rowell
Blair

Three people recently qualified for the Nov. 4 ballot to fill a vacancy on the Grovetown City Council.

Renee McDowell, Eric Blair and David W. Payne qualified to run to fill the seat left open by Councilman Dale Stoddard, who died unexpectedly on June 16.

“The truth is, I know a lot about Grovetown,” said McDowell, 54, who has lived in the city most of her life. “I just wanted to help. I think we’re all reeling from Dale’s passing. It makes you want to step up and help.”

The candidates are vying to fill Stoddard’s unexpired term, which runs through the end of 2015.

McDowell, who runs Georgia Detention Services and is wife of former councilman Sonny McDowell, said she’s particularly interested in serving to help manage the growth expected in the coming years.

“I just want what’s best for the community,” McDowell said. “Grovetown is on the cusp of such exciting things with all of our growth. It’s just a very exciting time to be in Grovetown.”

Payne, 43, does landscaping and remodeling with Odds and Ends Unlimited and is a former city employee.

He resigned after several months on the city’s Planning and Zoning Board of Appeals to run for the council seat. He wants to run and serve like former Mayor Dennis Trudeau, who Payne said always took care of the employees and represented the citizens well.

“I felt compelled that it’s time to get back to some ‘for the people’ politics,” said Payne, whose father has run for a district seat on the Columbia County Commission. “I want to get in there and someone can come to me at any point in time and I’ll take care of them to the best of my ability.”

Relative newcomer Eric Blair, 46, said he hopes to bring a new perspective to the council as the Army veteran, he lived in the city in the early 2000s and moved back in 2003.

“It’s always good to have a new set of eyes and new ideas from somebody that came from the outside and I wasn’t born and raised here,” Blair said.

He retired from the Army in 2008 and is a network engineer at Fort Gordon. He said serving on the council is a way he can contribute to his community.

“I served (in the Army) for 20 some years,’ Blair said. “That’s what my life is about, service. What better way to perform service again than to do it for the community and do it on the city council.”

The candidates will face each other in the special election on Nov. 4.

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