After three years on the Richmond Hill planning and zoning commission, Tara Baraniak says she thinks it is time to take the next step.
She recently announced that she will run for city council for the seat currently held by Russ Carpenter. Carpenter announced in March that he is running for mayor as current Mayor Harold Fowler is prohibited from running again due to term limits.
“I enjoy local government and politics and this is a very crucial time,” Baraniak said of her decision. “I think people need to be involved instead of complaining. Involvement tops complacency every time.”
Baraniak, 41, is married to Brian — a former member of the city’s planning and zoning commission — and they have an 11-year-old daughter. She is the owner of Pace Out Active Wear, an online athletic clothing company, and is a former membership director for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“We moved here 10 years ago to get involved in commercial real estate development because we saw a lot of potential for Richmond Hill,” she said. “The growth has been exciting but we have to manage it responsibly.”
Baraniak said she wants to encourage the city council, Bryan County and the school district to work together since all three entities are impacted by that growth.
“We have to communicate and work closely together so our community can thrive,” she said. “I’ve noticed more people becoming more vocal about the issues and that is great. We need more input instead of just guessing at what people want.”
Baraniak said she is taking a unique approach to her campaign in that she does not plan to accept any monetary donations.
“I’ve had people offer to donate already, but I told them that money can be better spent by taking their family out for dinner at a local restaurant or buying flowers locally for their yard,” she said. “Those are the kinds of things that strengthen the local economy and make Richmond Hill a great place to live.”
No other candidates have yet to announce they are running in the Nov. 7 election. Aside from the seats currently held by Fowler and Carpenter, the seat held by Councilman Johnny Murphy is also open.