On July 31, voters in southwest Cobb will select their next county commissioner from among six Democrats: Lisa Cupid, Monica DeLancy, Ruth Negron, Dr. Michael Rhett, Connie Taylor and incumbent Woody Thompson. No Republicans qualified to run for the post, so the winner of the primary will most likely be the one taking office in January.
Ruth Negron did not return her answers to the Journal.
Residence: Powder Springs
Occupation: Grants Compliance Director; Licensed Georgia Real Estate Broker and Real Estate Instructor.
Previous political experience: None
Education: MBA- Project Management; BA – International Business; AA – Banking & Finance
Do you plan to vote for the TIA on July 31?
Undecided— I am concerned that no funds were allocated under the project list to restore public transportation for Southwest Cobb. With no public transportation the constituents cannot get to and from their place of employment.
If Cobb voters reject TIA but it passes metro-wide, would you spend county money to sue in an effort to block it?
No—I believe that decision of the voters should remain and the county should not spend desperately needed tax payer’s monies on the matter.
Can the scope of county government, and thus county expenses, be reduced further? If so, what would you cut?
I believe there are a number of key economic issues confronting Cobb County. i.e., unemployment, vacant commercial properties in District 4, to name just a few.
Consolidation of departments where services are similar makes good sense, but only if services of the Cobb County residents can be improved and cost saving efficiencies can be realized.
Is the practice of “walking the halls” to gauge commissioners’ feelings on issues before they vote in public efficient government, or does it circumvent open meetings laws?
No. This type of practice could be considered a violation of the State’s “Open Meeting Law” when issues are being discussed by a majority, quorum or in private. Board of Commissioners should never “walk into a gray area.” It is the utmost importance that we be transparent with regards to our governmental processes.
Does Cobb offer too little, too much or the right amount of financial incentives to lure new jobs?
I believe that Cobb offers too little, because at present, the county has incentives in some section of the county and not others. Going forward, there needs to be consistencies put into place to ensure that such programs as; the Enterprise Zones, Community Property Rehab and Redevelopment Sites are offered countywide.
Should the commission have stronger oversight of the two Community Improvement Districts? If so, what type of oversight do you envision?
Yes, I believe that the commission should have a stronger oversight of the County’s two CIDs (Cumberland and Town Center).
Although, the CIDs were established to promote infrastructure improvements, the revenue for the CIDs are based on Cobb County Tax digest and the majority of the taxes, fees and assessment for the improvements are levied on real property owners in the CID area. CID operates with a 7 member board of directors. The property owners vote six in and the County Board appoints the seventh director. Going forward, I would recommend that each district is represented equally, to ensure there is equality with having a VOICE on the board.
Do you promise not to vote for a tax increase during this term, if elected?
With a weaken economy, it’s clear that increasing the residents of Cobb County taxes is not the most favorable decision. As I previously mentioned, Cobb County has some very good incentive programs already in place to attract new growth and development throughout the county. It is important that we assess these programs and make modification and adjustment first; and also look at other options that may exist in sparking growth in Cobb County before increasing taxes. Please note, only after the commissioners have exhausted all avenues, would I ever entertain a tax increase.
When the county SPLOST expires, would you support an extension for four, five or six years?
I believe that the constituents of Cobb County will have to decide if they want to continue with another SPLOST. I will support the decision of the constituents.
Do you favor changing the law to allow SPLOST money to support the arts?
No, I believe that SLOST funds should be used for the purpose of infrastructure improvement, sidewalks, services and facilities for parks and recreation areas.
Should Cobb spend tax dollars on the Chamber’s EDGE program?
No, because Cobb County already has a Community and Economic Development Agency with current staff that does a great job with managing this type of program.
Do you favor outsourcing more economic-development work to the Chamber?
No, because we have a department within the county that presently manages this program.
What should the county do to encourage redevelopment in south Cobb?
The county should:
Address the constituents concerns, i.e., jobs, public safety, transportation, to name a few.
Revitalize the commercial districts by providing more aggressive incentive programs for businesses.
Develop and promote growth in the different sector of the county that will sustain residential, commercial and/or retail businesses.
What is the biggest problem you want to solve, if elected, and how would you do it?
Creation and Job Retention – continue to recruit companies and existing companies in Southwest Cobb to assist in getting the unemployed and underemployed back to work for fair wages.
Education – work with the Southwest Cobb County School District Representative, so we can focus on building a stronger school system and enticing the best teacher to our community.
Roads and Transportation – continue to find a better way to expand and provide public transportation for Southwest Cobb. We need to continue to fix and maintain the roads that are currently in place and provide sidewalks.