Mayoral candidates participate in town hall forum
by Celia Shortt
Moreland Mayoral candidates, incumbent Mayor Josh Evans and challenger Councilman Dick Ford, held a robust debate about the future of Moreland during a town hall forum in Moreland on Tuesday.
The forum was hosted by the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce, and its purpose was to give the people of Moreland a chance to hear from both candidates before the Nov. 5 municipal elections. Dean Jackson, who serves as chair of the Chamber board, officiated at the forum.
Each candidate was given a two-minute opening statement and a two-minute closing statement. Each was also allowed a one-minute response to each question. Whichever candidate went first was allowed a 30-second rebuttal of the other candidate’s response. The candidates were staggered to ensure no one candidate would be responding first or second the whole time.
Evans said the two biggest parts of his campaign were the transportation grant and working with the blueprint plan for the community. He said it was very important to “bring our community together.”
Ford said he’s focusing his campaign on providing the leadership and the communication that Moreland needs to move forward.
“I think I can provide the leadership the town council needs to move forward with the five-year plan,” he said.
The questions posed to Ford and Evans included topics such as the budget, growth and development, job growth, recreational activities, and safety and law enforcement.
The area where both candidates disagreed the most was in regards to the use of the Moreland Mill in the center of town.
“This (the mill) can be the jewel of our town,” said Ford.
Ford remembered the mill was a “dusty old relic” when he started serving on the Moreland City Council. He said it had been cleaned up and improved quite a bit, but it could be used for events and other events, which could make money for the city and bring people to it.
Evans agreed the mill could be used to make money for the city and bring more people to the town, but rather than use it for events, he believed the Moreland Hometown Heritage Museum should be relocated to the mill.
“The mill is an important part of our past and future,” said Evans. “Put the museum back in the mill. That will draw people there.”
Evans and Ford also disagreed on future recreation projects for Moreland.
Evans would like to use grant money to put a buffer between the cemetery and the park. He also wants to put nature trails in the area.
Ford would like to start various events in the parks in Moreland.
“We want something to entertain the people of Moreland,” he said. “We need things to tie us together to feel like a community.”
Both agreed that Moreland needs to grow, but it should maintain its small-town atmosphere. They also agreed it would be nice for Moreland to have more jobs and businesses in town. With safety and law enforcement in Moreland, Ford and Evans are pleased and satisfied with the work the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office does and with the response time the fire department provides.
In regards to transportation, Evans said the most important issue is the U.S. Highway 29 and Church Street intersection. Ford believes putting sidewalks on Camp Street is the most important issue.
In the last question of the evening, Jackson asked both Ford and Evans to add anything else they wanted to share with the public. Evans encouraged citizens to get involved and come together as a community and, in order for them to get the whole picture of what is going on in the town, attend city council meetings.
Ford complimented Moreland on what it has accomplished in the last few years and said the town could be something special.
“I’m looking forward to becoming mayor,” said Ford after the forum. “I’m looking forward to this new year with new council members and what this town has to offer.”
“I want to see our transportation enhancement grant, roadscape, and Blueprint plan through,” said Evans after the forum. “I’ve been involved since the beginning and want to see it through.”