Devlin Cleveland, a local business owner and Hampton resident, has qualified to run for county commissioner in district II. Moving Henry Forward had an opportunity to interview Devlin this week.
Question: You have qualified to run for county commission. Tell us a little bit about yourself and why you decided to run.
Answer: I decided to run because I want to get things done. When I look at the overall topographical area of Henry County I see the potential of Henry County being the Best of the Best in places to live. We have the location, we have the potential to thrive in economic growth, and we have a community built with families of all diverse backgrounds. I am running because I want Henry County to be the thriving smart growth county that I know it can be.
When elected, I plan to be a commissioner that builds bridges, not burn them. Collaboration with our residents, municipalities, the state and nation is key. I am invested in this community and have lived here for over thirteen years. I own two local businesses; I want more businesses to see what I see in this county. When asking why have I decided to run, I have asked myself why not me? It is time for this county to work together! Division and pet projects are not the key to success.
I want to be the Peopleâ€™s Candidateâ€”the candidate that listens, studies, researches, and, finally, acts. I am running because our citizens deserve representation that recognizes they want a quality of life in this county that they can be proud of. We have often times become stagnant due to tied votes. Our citizens deserve elected officials who do not look or vote along party lines; I am the candidate that wants to get the job done.
Question: What do you see as the biggest issue facing Henry County, and what steps would you take to improve it?
Answer: Our biggest issue with Henry County currently is our infrastructure. Henry County is the second fastest growing county in the state of Georgia. As we continue to grow we must make sure that we are growing in a smart manner. This includes education, housing, roads, senior living, etc. We must be diligent in our planning and steadfast in our approach in the way we move Henry County forward.
Question: District II has the unique position that all four cities are represented within the district. How will you work with the cities to better the county?
Answer: It is simpleâ€”I will meet with leadership in all four municipalities and listen. I will let them know from the start that I not only represent unincorporated areas but I represent the cities as well. I will do so by making an effort to partner with each municipality on projects that are priorities to our district. Working together is the key to the success of district two and for the entire county. The county commission and the mayor and council of each city should be equal partners.
Question: The current BOC is divided three-three along party lines resulting in frequent three-three votes and stalemates. If elected, how will you work with other board members, including those “across the aisle,” on behalf of the county?
Answer: As stated above, it is time out for party line voting. We must vote for what is within the best interest of Henry County. We cannot be successful economically if we do not pull our resources together and work together. We must put aside our differences. I believe citizens are tired of voting down party lines; I want to be that change. This is not a party agenda! This is a Henry County agenda, the second fastest growing county in the state of Georgia! We deserve representation that seeks to get the job done in the best manner possible.
Question: A major topic in county government has been a proposal to bond public funds to construct a convention center and 10,000 seat arena. What is your stance on this topic, and if elected, do you support bonding funds for the project?
Answer: After researching I have several concerns about the proposed arena and convention center. They are as follows:
Currently a feasibility study has not been completed. If it is to be completed, I believe the county should pay for it and not the developer. If we allow the developer to pay for a feasibility study, it may come across to the public as a biased report.
Second, studies show that for an arena with 10,000 seats, on average, the build cost is $160 million. For example, Savannah is building a 10,000 seat arena and the cost is projected at $165 million. This raises concerns about the countyâ€™s estimate that $90 million would build both an arena and convention center.
Third, we need to plan! We must look at our infrastructure. Our roads are already in much need of widening and the current state of repairs show we have to get our infrastructure issues resolved as soon as possible.
Fourth, the proposed arena and convention center would be located in Stockbridge. We should work with Stockbridge officials to see if this is something that the community wants.
Lastly, I am not certain that bonding ninety million dollars would be a good idea.
Question: The proposed Bethlehem Road interchange on I-75 is partially located within district II and would alleviate traffic on highway 155 if constructed. Some board members, including the current district II commissioner, have voted against proceeding forward with the project. What is your position on the proposed exit?
Answer: Anything that is going to help traffic, I am going to support it. Traffic is jacked up! I understand some of the board memberâ€™s concerns; however, I believe that this plan would help us more than hinder us.
Question: Are there any major topics we have not covered that voters should know about you?
Answer: Yes, I support Parks and Recreation. I am pleased to see repairs being made at Cochran Park and we need to prioritize repairs at all of our parks.
Question: Finally, why should voters vote for you?
Answer: Iâ€™m just Devlin, a guy who believes in listening first and planning. I believe that the first thing I need to do as an elected official is listen to the citizens. I believe working together â€œGets the Job Done!â€
Devlin Cleveland has qualified for the democratic primary for commission district II. The primary will be held May 19.