HOUSTON COUNTY, Ga. — Tom McMichael currently holds Houston County Commission's Post 5 position, but two candidates are running for that countywide seat this year.
Mark Byrd is from Houston County. He graduated from Georgia Southern University, and he owns a small business called Byrd and Company, LLC.
Keith McCants was born in Macon County. He graduated from South Georgia Technical College, and he now works at Blue Bird Body Company in Fort Valley.
13WMAZ spoke to both candidates to find out why they believe they deserve your vote and what they plan to do if elected.
Q: Why are you running for this position?
Byrd: I care about the people that live here in Houston County and very simply that would be the reason I'm running for office for Houston County commissioner.
McCants: Well, what I want to do is I want to be a voice to those that feel that they're not being heard. I want to be a voice to those who feel that their needs are not being met.
Q: Why should the people of Houston County vote for you?
Byrd: I think I am unique. I have a long history here in Houston County, which gives me an understanding of the values of the families in the county. I have pledged during my campaign to run a campaign and serve with integrity, with accountability, with fiscal responsibility, and with unity of purpose. And that is the kind of Commissioner I will be, I will bring my business experience to the office. I'll bring my community experience to the office. I think with that combination, I think I can serve the citizens well.
McCants: I'm a hard worker. I'm reliable. I'm responsible. I'm a great listener, I work with others. I know about teamwork. I'm pragmatic. I can build relationships with others. I'm someone who wants to look out for our men and women, our firefighters, our police officers. Farmers and agriculture...our seniors. Given the time that we're in right now; if people are looking for change, I am someone who would bring that change to the Board of Commissioners.
Q: Why are you the better qualified candidate?
Byrd: Supporting Robins Air Force Base is a big deal in Houston County and Middle Georgia. Economic development, workforce development, those are big deals. I have been a part of the community team that has had great success. Over the past 25 years advancing those issues.
McCants: This is something that I just want to give back. I want to you know, get involved with the community. I feel like with me being involved in government previously, you know, it could be a big help for me going forward, if I'm elected.
Q: What are Houston County's biggest problems right now and what would you do about it?
Byrd: Budgetary concerns I believe are a big challenge. When you look at Houston County. You have a very diverse set of needs. We've got areas in Houston County that are in need of redevelopment of initiatives. We've got areas of great growth in Houston County that need infrastructure improvement. And then we have more rural areas that may be in need of just basic infrastructure improvement, so I think the action item there is to really measure the priority needs and balance the use of resources to the greatest needs.
McCants: We have to address, at least look at, how our infrastructure, is it able to withstand the growth that we're experiencing right now? And another thing also is our county employees. We need to implement a merit-based pay system. I want to ensure that men and women in law enforcement, whether they're police, firefighters, EMTs. I want to ensure that they have the proper resources.
Election Day is November 3, but early voting starts October 12.