5th District Race: Incumbent says he has more work to doBy SARAH FAY CAMPBELL
Al Smith first decided to run for a seat on the Coweta County Board of Commissioners because “I never saw my commissioners and felt that I didn’t have any representation,” he said.
“I wanted to know that my commissioner was available to the community and that I would see my commissioner in my community. And I thought I could be that person, I could represent this Fifth District.”
“The reason I am running for re-election is because I have been asked to. I get a certain amount of satisfaction out of the duties that a commissioner is required to perform.”
Smith said he likes helping his constituents “cut through the red tape of the county.”
“Sometimes you get caught up in the red tape,” he said. “When a person’s got a problem with a county service, I get my greatest enjoyment from helping that individual.”
His biggest recent accomplishment was getting the county to clean up an abandoned lot on Ishman Ballard Road that had become a dump site. Smith got involved when residents approached him and “said they had been banging their heads and encountering stone walls.
“Not promising them anything but just talking and asking what we can do about this as a board, and then the other commissioners helped me get that problem taken care of.”
When it comes to issues, Smith wants to look at simplifying some of the county’s codes and ordinances “so that they will be more user-friendly.” He and the other commissioners are also working on having materials in each department that help people understand the processes.
The idea of the materials is “to let people know where you should start to get this done, so you won’t just be spinning your wheels.”
He said the consensus of the board is that the county’s ordinances should be more user-friendly and not restrictive.
“We should be trying to help people do what they want to do instead of just telling them what they can’t do.
“Especially when people try to put up a business and there is a roadblock for everything you want to do,” he said.
They’re starting to work on updating the sign ordinance, said Smith, who owns a sign company.
The current sign ordinance is several years old, and sign technology is always changing, he said. “Now everything is so cost-conscious. There are ways to do things we haven’t thought of in the past that are cheaper and just as effective.”
He’d like to see the county take more action to encourage people to make use of vacant buildings, including figuring out some way to give incentives to those who use formerly vacant buildings.
Smith would also like to see some relaxation of the county’s Quality Development Corridor rules, particularly the requirement for brick pavers at each driveway. “That’s restrictive. That doesn’t make it a quality” development.
“I’m not saying you just abandon all rules and regulations,” he said. But “there ought to be some way people can get what they want instead of trying not to go broke to meet an ordinance.”
Smith is happy with the success of Coweta’s “dial-a-ride” transit system and would like to see it expanded.
Another thing he would like to see is for the county to move toward a central purchasing system for all departments. Currently, “every department is in charge of purchasing their own supplies. We could probably get a better price buying in bulk.”
Why should people vote for Smith?
“Because I’m the best candidate,” he said. “Because I have the sum total of experience necessary to be able to look at any issue. I know what it is like on the outside looking in, and now I am on the inside looking out. I have a total perspective on the needs and wants of the citizens.”
“I consider myself to be a servant leader for my constituents in that I’m there to serve them, not to be served.”
“I don’t have all the solutions to the problems in Coweta County, but somebody in the county does. That is the person I’m trying to find and listen to. When you’re talking, you’re not learning anything. I like to be quiet and see what other folks have got to say.”