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Eight candidates seeking two seats in Statham

STATHAM - Water resources, preserving a small town feel and managing growth top the list of priorities for candidates running for Statham City Council.

Eight individuals, including two incumbents, are vying for three seats in the Nov. 3 general election.

"The most important thing to me is providing a place where the citizens can work here, play here, shop here," said candidate Jeremiah Bennett, "because right now they're having to go to Athens, Winder, Atlanta. I'd like to see more restaurants, more small town shops."

Although he has lived in Statham only a year, Bennett said he and his wife, Amanda, moved to the small town to start a family.

"I'm here for the long run," he said. "I have a young daughter and that's the main reason (I'm running for council). I want a future for her."

Incumbent Betty Lyle said she would welcome growth, to an extent.

"I would like to see more businesses in town," said Lyle, who has served on the city council for 27 years, "but I would also like to see us keep the little down home feeling."

"I really want us to promote smart growth," said Susan Martin, "and by that I mean developing a master plan for how our city is going to grow."

David Huth, who has lived in Statham for 16 years, said preserving the quality of life in small town Statham is his priority, as well as ensuring the availability of water resources.

"I want to make sure, down the road, everybody has an adequate amount of water," the small business owner said. "It seems like we're leaning to water (being priced) as high as gasoline. I'd like to see everybody's water be on a firm foundation knowing that we've got a plentiful supply."

Johnnie Ellington said water is her priority.

"We've had an increase in water rates," she said, "and certain times of the year, there's an odor in the water and it's a concern of the community here."

Providing activities for children is also a concern for the 58-year-old retiree.

"We'd like to see some thing that they can do," she said, "the children would like to have bowling or skating, some kind of activity to keep them off the streets."

A City Council candidates forum is planned for 7 p.m. Thursday at Statham City Hall. City residents will be able to cast their votes from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall. For more information, call 770-725-5455.

SideBar: At a glance

The following eight candidates are vying for three seats on the Statham City Council:

· Name: Jeremiah Bennett

· Age: 25

· Education: Some college

· Occupation: Film and television producer, media marketing consultant and manager of commercial property

· Political experience: Has worked on congressional and gubernatorial campaigns for the past eight years

· Family: Wife Amanda; 4-month-old daughter, Abigail Elizabeth

· If elected: Preserve historic downtown Statham, bring new business opportunities and maintain the tax rate

· Name: Johnnie Ellington

· Age: 58

· Education: Attended Georgia State University for two years

· Occupation: Retired

· Political experience: None

· Family: Divorced; daughter, Ketta Glover

· If elected: "My plans are to hopefully bring some activities in for children and work with the other council members to bring in business and address the concerns of the citizens."

· Name: David Huth

· Age: 53

· Education: Graduated from Madison County High School, certified in management

· Occupation: Self-employed, owns a towing company

· Political experience: None

· Family: Wife Debbie; son, Eric, 29

· If elected: "I plan to keep Statham the small town that it is with limited growth and to keep the water in the Barrow County and Statham vicinity."

· Name: Betty Kinney

· Age: 60

· Education: Attended Blayton Business College

· Occupation: Facilities manager/management analyst with the Environmental Protection Agency

· Political experience: None

· Family: Husband Stanley; five children and eight grandchildren

· If elected: "I have experience with facilities management and that is finding ways to conserve energy, water conservation and water quality. I also have experience with pollution management and recycling. That's an area I would like to work with (the city mayor) on if I am elected."

· Name: Betty Lyle (i)

· Age: 69

· Education: Graduated from Winder-Barrow High School

· Occupation: Retired

· Political experience: Served 27 years on Statham City Council

· Family: Husband John F. Lyle Jr.; two sons, Jeff, 55 and Tim, 52; five grandchildren

· If elected: "My plan if I'm re-elected is to serve every citizen every day and be honest, open-minded and up front with everyone."

· Name: Susan Martin

· Age: 36

· Education: Bachelor's degree in Russian studies and master's degree in comparative literature both from the University of Georgia

· Occupation: Production coordinator for Radar Productions, which produces television commercials

· Political experience: None

· Family: Husband Jason; daughter, Sydney, 15

· If elected: "I want to address quality of life issues, such as extending our sidewalks to our parks. I want to address education and jobs training issues through career fairs and also to offer some literacy classes."

· Name: Gayle Steed (i)

· Age: 63

· Education: High school

· Occupation: Bookkeeper at Statham Elementary School

· Political experience: 22 years serving on the Statham City Council

· Family: Husband Hill; two daughters and three granddaughters

· If elected: "I'm going to continue working to attract business into city, continue working on the city's infrastructure, roads and sewer, and encourage economic development."

· Name: Terry Tripp

· Age: 62

· Education: Associate degree in cosmetology

· Occupation: Administrative associate for the associate vice president for research at the University of Georgia

· Political experience: None

· Family: Husband, Roger Tripp, Statham chief of police; three children and nine grandchildren

· If elected: "I would be proactive in bringing business into the city and strive for cohesiveness of the city council to make the organization strong and effective."