Three candidates will vie for two city council seats in Tuesday's Grovetown municipal election.
Two incumbents -- Bruce Stoddard and Rosa Lee Owens -- hope to retain their seats, while Grovetown businessman Sonny McDowell hopes to oust one of them. The two candidates with the highest number of votes will win the seats.
Stoddard, 57, who is seeking his third four-year term, said he hopes to continue working on strengthening the city.
"We've got some things in the works that will help the city out," Stoddard said.
He also said being a good steward of taxpayer money and being fiscally conservative in tough economic times are high priorities for him.
"That's always a problem, trying to make the buck stretch," he said. "What affects me will affect everyone else here."
Stoddard was the sole dissenting vote on the city's increased millage rate at Monday's city council meeting, asserting that in a recession residents can't afford a raise in taxes.
Owens, 82, was elected to the city council when she ran unopposed in 2007 to fill the unexpired term of George James, who resigned to run for mayor. She also ran for Columbia County Commission and school board seats in previous elections.
Owens said she agrees with Stoddard that being fiscally responsible should be a priority. She said she wasn't happy about the tax increase, but understood its necessity.
Owens said she is looking forward to more improvements in the rapidly growing city, including the addition of new residents and the opening of an Augusta Technical College campus under construction just outside the city limits.
"I'm just excited about the potential for Grovetown," Owens said. "There's just expansion everywhere. I'm really optimistic about the future for Grovetown and I want to be part of it."
Owens said that if re-elected she would like to see expansion follow the city's comprehensive plan. The plan was developed in 2006 as a guide to manage the city's residential and commercial growth.
McDowell, 54, agrees that the plan should be the basis for many decisions made by the city council. Using it as a guide would help city officials solve problems before they arise, which is especially important in a fast-growing city, he said.
McDowell, a founder and president of the Grovetown Merchants Association, helped develop the plan.
"The biggest issue that I see that continues to face the city is the city's ability to manage its growth," said McDowell, president of Grayco Detention Equipment. "I would like to see the city be a little more proactive in managing its growth, rather than dealing with crises as they come up."
McDowell said he would like to be involved in making decisions based on long-term goals that are best for the city and its residents. If that plan needs to be changed, it should be amended, he said, but remain a road map for development.
"Not is it better than what we have today, but is it consistent with what we want it to look like in the future," McDowell said.
He'd also like to foster a very customer-oriented atmosphere among city offices.
The city's three election precincts will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. For information, call the Columbia County Board of Elections at (706) 868-3355 or visit www.columbiacountyga.gov
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