Runoff candidates talk qualifications, goals for Canton
by Joshua Sharpe
November 29, 2013 10:25 PM | 2059 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON — The four candidates vying in the runoff election for two open seats on the Canton City Council are hunkering down in the home stretch of their campaigns before voters hit the polls once again Tuesday.

Sandy McGrew and Clint Weatherby are facing off for the Ward 1 seat in the runoff, and John R. Rust and Farris Yawn are going for the Ward 3 seat, after none of the candidates could pull in more than half the votes in the city election Nov. 5.

After their hopes of taking home a quick win were dashed earlier this month, the candidates jumped back into their campaigns and are trying to get the voters in Canton to cast their ballots one more time for them Tuesday.

McGrew believes it’s her commitment and familiarity with the issues important to the city that make her the best prospect for the Ward 1 seat on the city council.

“Since making Canton my home in 2006, I’ve been involved with the community through volunteering and immersing myself in the activities that Canton offers,” said McGrew, a retired school worker. “I am up-to-date on the issues and concerns of the citizens and businesses.”

McGrew’s opponent, Weatherby, also feels he’s the best for the job.

Weatherby said his lifelong residency in the area and the fact he’s raising a son in the city gives him a special perspective on how Canton should be run.

At 38 years old, he is also the youngest candidate in the race and believes this gives him an advantage.

“I think that adds a fresh perspective to the council,” said Weatherby, who owns an insurance business.

In the Ward 3 race, both Rust and Yawn feel they have what it takes.

Rust believes his dedication to Canton makes him the best choice.

“The past four years, I have attended almost every city council meeting and public committee meeting,” said Rust, a retired business owner who has been on several city council created committees. “I am retired with the time to serve the citizens of Canton, the mayor and the city council.”

Yawn, a downtown business owner, has also served on multiple boards and committees through the years and feels he has qualities that make him the best for the Canton City Council.

“As a 35-year resident and local business owner, I have significant personal and professional ties in this community,” Yawn said. “I have a huge stake in helping Canton reach its full potential, and I care deeply about the future of my home.”

Goals in office

When asked what their goals would be if elected, each of the Canton City Council candidates said they had big things in mind.

Weatherby said he first wanted to help make the city more business friendly.

“I would love to work with the existing council and city staff to help streamline what I understand is an arduous task of opening a business in the city of Canton,” he said. “Another goal would be to help make the current businesses feel more involved with the city council.”

Weatherby said one way Canton could streamline its process for new business owners could be to create instructional materials giving them a step-by-step method of opening up shop in the city. He would also like to start a committee of high school- and college age-residents to give their feelings and ideas to the council.

McGrew said one of her first orders of business in office would be trying to get the Laurel Canyon area the fire station it was promised years ago.

“The growth in that area supports the need for one there,” she said. “This has been an issue for too long and it needs a resolution sooner than later.”

McGrew said she also wants to make Canton a more “clean and tidy” city, which she believes will attract newcomers and business. Like her opponent, McGrew said the new business process should be streamlined. She added paperwork should be reduced and that keeping infrastructure in good repair and up-to-date could “do wonders” for attracting business.

If elected to the Ward 3 seat, Yawn said his “main goal” would be to make Canton a more business-friendly city, which could be done by reviewing the city’s policies on business and helping the council to present a good face for those looking to open a business. Yawn said he would also want to help the Main Street program and the economic development coordinator actively covet new business.

Another task on Yawn’s list would be to work to strengthen the city’s mutual aid agreement with Cherokee County for fire services, he said.

If elected, Rust said he would address what needs to be done with fire services in Canton, as well as infrastructure and streets, “immediately.”

He said he will also try to lower taxes in the city “through more efficient government while increasing revenue by attracting new businesses.”

Rust said keeping Canton open for new business is also important and something he would work on.

“I will work to reduce the difficulty and barriers to opening a business in Canton and create an ombudsman to assist in the process,” Rust said. “The goal will be to interview new business owners one year after opening and have a response of ‘(it was) the best experience ever.’”

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