As we approach Savannah's municipal election Nov. 3, the Savannah Morning News has been talking with the candidates for the City Council and Mayor. The four candidates for District 1 - incumbent Mary Osborne and Bill Durrence, Detric Leggett and Andree Patterson - talked about crime, planning and their plans for the district.
On crime and the current council:
"Once they realized it was a problem, it took a long time for them to deal with it. From the pay raises to money for cars, they have been slow to work on a fix for the department. Crime is more than policing. You've got to not only create jobs, but good paying jobs."
On revitalizing Waters Ave:
"The concept to do that is good. I don't think it is working out. There is a constant waste due to poor planning. The money we wasted on the Waters Avenue shopping center -- we bought without doing the due diligence."
On the city's future:
"I had a boss one time who used to tell us he wanted us to do what he called blue sky daydreaming. If you could have anything you wanted, don't worry about how you do it, how you would pay for it or anything else. If you could have anything you wanted, what would it be? I see us trying to do something like that. On a 30- or 50-year horizon, what would we want the city to look like? Obviously once we establish that goal line, we'd have to make modifications. But if we had that goal, every decision we made would be based on supporting that goal."
"Create programs that would give our kids something to do. Everyone is running wild and running free. They can put programs in these empty storefronts where our kids can go."
On the Waters Ave shopping center:
"I would rather see them upgrade the building. Continue with the community center that is on the side of the building and put small businesses or revitalize the building so we can make money back from the $1.6 million that we spent on it. Create an enterprise zone so the tax revenue would be invested back into the community."
On what the district needs:
"We want to make the second district user-friendly. Everyone needs to be a part of this transparency. We need to make sure economic development comes back in the second district. Poverty is one of the greatest things that is going on in the second district. We need to find a way to change that. One idea is to create businesses. Put money back into the businesses here."
"The increase in salaries alone is not going to get it. They want cars. And not only that. [Alderman] Tony Thomas has proposed sometime ago and I support it, a sign-on bonus. So we can get some of the officers we already trained to come back. If we don't get the police staffing up to par, we will never be able to do community policing. And that's what it is going to take to stop this crime."
On Waters Ave:
"It's taken so long because we had a bad deal with the former city manager having a lease with a tenant that could be there probably forever, almost, or seemingly there forever. He does not want to move. I can understand that. He's a viable business. Secondly, we had a request for proposals out. Two responded. And residents did not want a Family Dollar or Save-A-Lot. They wanted something. A real grocery. A real pharmacy. So they were willing to wait until we got that. We're not going to give up. We're going to get us a grocery store. We're going to get us a pharmacy. We're going to satisfy people in the district."
On why she's running again:
"This will be the final time I run. There are so many incomplete projects at city hall that we have to get done. And I think I have the guts, the fire in my belly to make it happen."
"I realize we need more than police officers. We need them. But we need to start with the families. We need good parenting. People who buy drugs are part of the problem. The same for prostitution. If these people, who are the buyers, who cause the demand for supply, were the target of police officers, it seems to me it would calm things down a bit and help."
On the Waters Ave project:
"It's very slow. I would like it to move way faster. I've been disappointed like many people about the decisions that have been made. I'm for progress. I'm not one that likes to sit and not reach a decision. Usually I act upon as I have all around here in my own neighborhood. So, it should done yesterday, basically."
On tourism's future:
"I don't think it's reached a saturation point. Perhaps what we need to do, instead of putting more hotels in the downtown and so on, we have a good bit of land around that could be built up. We have Hutchinson Island that could be built with hotels as well. The economy is good right now for tourism but isn't going to last. Then what happens next is the question."