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Auburn candidates vie for council seats, mayor's office

AUBURN - One thing is certain with the Auburn City Council and mayoral races coming up Nov. 6: there's bound to be some new faces.

The city has three council seats and the mayor's office open in the upcoming election.

Two candidates - Bill Ackworth and Linda Blechinger - will be vying for Mayor Harold Money's vacated position and the opportunity to be the city's mayor until the end of 2011.

Ackworth, a 61-year-old retired small business owner, said one of the main issues for the city is growth and the City Council, city planners and mayor need to work together to address the issues growth will create.

"I'm not in favor of uncontrolled growth," Ackworth said. "Whatever growth we do have in the near future I'd like to see it be very well thought out and as beneficial to the community as possible."

Blechinger, who resigned from her seat on the City Council to run for mayor, said the best way to prepare and control the inevitable growth is by putting the proper codes and ordinances in place.

"We can have the best plans, but if they don't match up with our codes and ordinances they won't matter," Blechinger said.

Five more candidates are competing for two council seats with terms through the end of 2011. The top two vote-getters win the seats. Two of the key issues in the race for those seats are taxes and growth.

Dorissa Shackelford, the only incumbent seeking to retain a seat, said there are a lot of good ideas for parks and other things, but her first concern is making sure taxes aren't raised.

"People are struggling with their money," Shackelford said. "I think if we proceed with spending a lot of money on non-necessary items we're messing with people's money."

Bert Scouten, who is running for his first political office and whose wife Donna currently serves on the City Council, said he would like citizens to have something to do in the city, but not if it raises taxes.

"With the taxes we pay it seems like we could afford a swing set or two," Scouten said.

Tauheed Ferguson, who is a current member of Auburn's Planning and Zoning committee, said it's essential for Auburn to take an active role in planning for growth.

"One of the issues is about establishing a mixed-use development," Ferguson said. "And I'm definitely for that."

Beverly Kelley, whose husband Clay is the first vice chair of the Barrow County Republican Party, said she believes her family's connections with elected officials would help get infrastructure in Auburn that's essential to future growth.

"We have to be able to work with the county and the state to get the best services for Auburn," said Beverly Kelley, who had previously served on the Barrow County Board of Education.

Peggy Langley, who is running for her first political office, said she would like to see more restaurants come in along Ga. Highway 8.

"I'm all for the growth as long as we keep the subdivisions and small communities small," Langley said.

A third council seat is also up for grabs after Blechinger resigned her seat to run for mayor. The special election will feature three more candidates looking to fill the final two years of Blechinger's term.

Clay Kelley, who was a county commissioner in Barrow for four years and Beverly Kelley's husband, said he thinks infrastructure improvements and quality of life improvements are necessary for the city.

"We need to look at what will benefit the majority of citizens," he said. "Not just a few citizens."

Sally Brown, who has been Auburn's parks and recreation commission chair, said she thinks creating walking trails between subdivisions and downtown could be positive for residents and businesses alike.

"I think it would encourage small business in the downtown area," Brown said.

Peter Hoover, who ran against Blechinger in the 2006 City Council election, said the Ga. Highway 8 corridor has a lot of potential for commercial growth, but he would like to keep that growth away from the city's side streets.

"We're a small town," Hoover said. "I want to maintain that small town feel."

SideBar:

MAYOR

' Name: Bill Ackworth

' Age: 61

' Occupation: Retired small business owner

' Education: Graduated from Hubbard (Ohio) High School. Attended but did not graduate from Youngstown State University.

' Elected or Appointed Political Experience: Auburn Planning and Zoning committee

' Family: Wife, Grace; Children, Mark, 37, LeAnne, 36; 3 grandchildren

' Contact Number: 770-995-2400

' Name: Linda Blechinger

' Age: 47

' Occupation: Writer

' Education: Earned GED in California

' Elected or Appointed Political Experience: Auburn City Council

' Family: Husband, Dan; Children, Derek, 18, David, 15

' Contact Number: 770-868-1211

CITY COUNCIL (2 SEATS)

' Name: Tauheed Ferguson

' Age: 28

' Occupation: General manager for Fastenal

' Education: Earned a Bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Georgia. Graduated from Duluth High School.

' Elected or Appointed Political Experience: Auburn Planning and Zoning committee

' Family: Wife, Tyca; Children, Tahlia, 6, Bryson, 5, Tauheed, 4

' Contact Number: 770-339-3938

' Name: Beverly Kelley

' Age: 43

' Occupation: Small business owner

' Education: Earned an Associate's degree in Science and Accounting from DeKalb Community College.

' Elected or Appointed Political Experience: Barrow County Board of Education

' Family: Husband, Clay; Children, Christina, 18, Amy, 14, Preston, 10

' Contact Number: 678-261-7528

' Name: Peggy Langley

' Age: 46

' Occupation: Mary K independent consultant; housewife

' Education: Graduated from Winder-Barrow High School.

' Elected or Appointed Political Experience: None

' Family: Husband, James; Children, Michael, 27, Jessica, 26

' Contact Number: 770-962-8787

' Name: Bert Scouten

' Age: 46

' Occupation: Truck driver

' Education: Graduated from Union City (Penn.) High School.

' Elected or Appointed Political Experience: None

' Family: Wife, Donna; Children, Jason, 27, Tyler, 15

' Contact Number: 404-202-8515

' Name: Dorissa Shackelford

' Age: 47

' Occupation: Data analyst for Morgan Design and Engineering

' Education: Earned a Bachelor's degree in Architectural Engineering from Southern Polytechnic State University. Graduated from Sequoyah High School.

' Elected or Appointed Political Experience: Auburn City Council, Auburn Planning and Zoning committee

' Family: Children, Virginia, 28, Brad, 27; Step-children, Paula, 28, Marie, 26, Jamie, 21, Teresa, 18; 7 grandchildren

' Contact Number: 678-425-1248

CITY COUNCIL SPECIAL ELECTION

' Name: Sally Brown

' Age: 43

' Occupation: Teacher at Lanier Tech

' Education: Earned a Master's in Business and a Bachelor's in Communications from the University of Arkansas. Graduated from Little Rock Mills (Ark.) High School.

' Elected or Appointed Political Experience: Auburn Parks and Recreation commission chair, Chair of Auburn's Zoning Board of Appeals, Auburn's representative to the Barrow County Library Board

' Family: Husband, Paul; Children, Taylor, 15, Spencer, 11; Step-children, Ashley Prince, 23, Amber Guest, 21; 1 grandchild

' Contact Number: 770-995-1690

' Name: Peter Hoover

' Age: 51

' Occupation: Sales for US Netcom

' Education: Earned a Master's degree in Political Science and History from Wesleyan University. Earned a Bachelor's degree in Communications from Syracuse University. Graduated from Darien (Conn.) High School.

' Elected or Appointed Political Experience: Auburn Planning and Zoning committee, Auburn Zoning Board of Appeals

' Family: Children, Caitlin, 21

' Contact Number: 678-919-7211

' Name: Clay Kelley

' Age: 44

' Occupation: Freelance recruiter

' Education: Graduated from Towers (Ga.) High School.

' Elected or Appointed Political Experience: Barrow County Commissioner, Auburn Planning and Zoning committee, First Vice-Chair of the Barrow County Republican Party

' Family: Wife, Beverly; Children, Christina, 18, Amy, 14, Preston, 10

' Contact Number: 678-261-7528