The Grovetown City Council will soon welcome its newest member.
In an extremely close special election on Tuesday's ballot, Grovetown residents elected Richard A. "Dick" Manion, to fill the unexpired Grovetown City Council term of Marjorie Adams, which expires Dec. 31, 2007. Mrs. Adams, 79, died Feb. 12 from complications from a Dec. 8 stroke.
Manion, 76, earned 175 votes, or 34.58 percent of the 506 votes cast in the election. He ran against two opponents - Barry B. Davis and Leland J. "Sonny" McDowell. Davis earned 165 votes, or 32.61 percent, while 31.62 percent of the voters chose McDowell, earning him 160 votes.
"The top vote-getter gets the job," said Vicky Capetillo, assistant registrar.
"... It's been a long time since we've had an election this close."
Manion, a retired Army colonel, moved to Grovetown more than a year ago after four years living in Florida. But he's no stranger to Columbia County. He formerly lived in Appling and spent four years in the mid-1990s as chairman of the Columbia County Republican Party. Manion served on numerous boards, including the 1995 committee that studied incorporation of the county, and is a former Georgia state Senate candidate.
"I'm retired and I've got a lot of time," Manion said of retirement, which he considers an advantage over his opponents in the election. "I was very active years ago in the county and I think I can interface with the county pretty easily."
Manion said he is ready to take his seat on the city council for the first time at Monday's meeting and get to the business of running the city.
He said the biggest issue facing Grovetown is managing the extreme growth the city has and is still experiencing with many new subdivisions.
"It's just managing all of this. The traffic situation, of course, is pretty tough," Manion said, adding that finding or creating alternate routes might help.
"People are very frustrated in the morning going up Robinson Avenue, going to the fort and on into Augusta."
Manion said he'd like to see the city attract more restaurants, especially one that makes a good steak, as well as light industry.
He said he'd also like to highlight more of the city's historic past by labeling historic buildings and offering tours of the city's historic sites.
"I think the biggest thing is meshing the old with the new," Manion said.
"We've got a lot of new people moving into the city with all the new subdivisions. I think, unfortunately, the low voting turnout in the subdivisions along Harlem-Grovetown Road shows that people (there) don't feel a part of it (the city). ... With the city growing like it is, we've got to get people united."
Manion said the current city council is doing a great job, but there are some changes he'd like to see.
Still, Manion acknowledges, "Rome wasn't built in a day. All the problems are not going to be solved overnight."
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