COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - There are three candidates vying to fill the District 10 seat on Columbus' city council left vacant when longtime councilor Skip Henderson decided to run for mayor.
Candidates Amy Bryan, John House, and Tollie Strode Jr. discussed their platforms and professional experience.
Strode is a robotics sub matter expert as a contractor at Fort Benning. He's been on that job since 2002 but his affiliation with the army started years prior.
"I enlisted in the service and eventually was selected to go to the Military Academy at West Point. I was commissioned a second lieutenant and my first assignment was here on Fort Benning on Kelly Hill with the 197th Infantry Brigade. I think I am bringing to the city council a level of analytical skills, a level of business understanding, and a military background," said Strode.
Amy Bryan, a native of Columbus and product of the Muscogee County School District, returned home to the Fountain City after attending Georgia Southern University to be closer to family. After initially working for her dad's insurance agency, she got a job at the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce 10 years ago where community development and leadership development became her sole focus.
"Public service has always been a part of my plan. I just wasn't sure when and what my timeline looked like. I was watching this race in particular, and I felt like the two people who had already qualified didn't represent me as a young person and someone who wants to raise my family here. Another reason is, the young professionals. We continue to encourage them to get involved in this process and to make a difference to make change. If I'm preaching it and I'm not doing it, what message am I sending?," explained Bryan.
John House also grew up in Columbus and like Strode, he too has military experience. "I like public service. I grew up with that in the Army and that was serving the public. I was looking for an opportunity to do it. I spent 26 years in the Army's field artillery and was stationed all over the world as you might imagine. I guess my most important job as it relates to city council is I was a Garrison Commander in Korea, meaning I was a city manager.
The candidates also voiced their concerns on some of the big issues facing Columbus like police pay and retention, the property tax freeze, and crime."I think it's important that if we want to have the best of the best that we are competitive in that arena," added Bryan.
Strode addressed the property tax issue, "No left or right on that. It's just too important of an aspect and actually, it's a selling point for moving to Columbus."
When it comes to crime in the city, House said, "some people in the city ignored that for several years and we need to pay attention to it. The police are not ignoring it. They know what's going on."
One thing's for sure, whoever is elected to serve District 10 will be a newcomer to politics.