The candidates profiled here are running to fill the Richmond Hill City Council Post 1 seat vacated in December by the death of councilman and mayor pro tem Johnny Murphy. Early voting for the special election begins Monday at the J.W. Stevens Wetlands Center at J.F. Gregory Park. The polls are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during advanced voting and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. March 19, which is Election Day. The following are the candidates’ responses to a survey submitted by the Bryan County News. They’re run in alphabetical order.
Personal information: Kristi Cox; age 51; Republican. I am married to Allen and we have five daughters, two of which are in heaven. I have a BS Degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Psychology. I have served as Area Director for Bryan County with United Way of the Coastal Empire for the past 6½ years but recently resigned, freeing up time that will allow me to devote to serving our community as a council member. I moved to Bryan County in 1994 but relocated into the city limits in 1999; Allen has lived here for more than 50 years.
Why are you running? The decision to run for this council seat was made after several weeks of prayer.
I have served this community for years in various ways and I love this city. I feel that I have a lot to offer as I have been intricately involved in impacting people’s lives via United Way and I would like to build on the amazing progress that has taken place over the past 6 ½ years by helping make decisions that will affect the quality of life for our residents. Strategic planned growth, maximizing tax dollars, helping bridge working relationships, partnering to ensure the integrity of our town, making myself available to all residents and encouraging them to have a voice, and preserving our history while welcoming innovative ideas for our future are all things that I feel would be beneficial to our residents.
I am open-minded, enthusiastic, trustworthy, and don’t have a self-serving agenda. I truly want to make a difference, impact lives and build upon the amazing things that are already happening in our beautiful city.
What are three biggest issues facing Richmond Hill? Growth, Infrastructure, and Public Safety. Although I list these three issues because they are concerns of mine personally, it is important to remember that an opinion should be based upon reliable information, research, and data in order to make sound, educated decisions.
What are Richmond Hill’s biggest strengths? Our camaraderie and the fact that we support and help each other; we maintain a small town atmosphere and close knit community; we have community school spirit because we have one high school and one middle school even with the growth we have experienced; our close proximity to many enriching resources, and we are a coastal community.
What are your priorities if elected? To be honest, transparent and exemplify integrity in every action and decision while serving the residents of Richmond Hill to the best of my ability; ensuring everyone has an opportunity to be a part of the team, share their thoughts, and encourage them to let their voices be heard; respect others input and opinions; expand on our strengths as a Council; make decisions based on the best interest of the residents and community as a whole after thoroughly evaluating each issue; and to maintain sound judgement and fiscal stability.
Personal information: My name is Wayne Jackson. I’m a retired, 62 year old Republican. My wife, Becky, is also retired. I have 2 daughters, Rachel, a school teacher, and April, a mortgage processor.
They and their children live and work here in Richmond Hill. I’ve lived in Bryan County and Richmond Hill for over 35 years.
Why are you running? This is my home and home to my children & grandchildren.
I want to help keep our city growing through good planning. I’ve owned and operated businesses most of my life. I’ve dealt with hundreds of employees, budgets and fundraising. I’ve worked for and with many groups serving in many capacities. That is why my slogan is “Strength from Experience” What are three biggest issues facing Richmond Hill?
I believe we have many issues.
Three priorities are to stay ahead of traffic plans and focus on future traffic needs. Plan schools as new neighborhoods are planned, not after they’re built. Communication between developers, builders, city planning, our school board and the Georgia DOT is essential.
Lastly, very important to me, we must have EMS services based in the city!
What are Richmond Hill’s biggest strengths? Our city has been “Branded” for a long time as a great place to live and raise children and with great schools. I believe our sense of community, our strength in family, our dedication to helping those in need and the love we all feel toward our city will carry us to the future.
What are your priorities if elected? My priorities are the 3 issues that I talked about before along with supporting new development without putting the tax burden on current residents and to seriously consider the consolidation of some current city and county services that are now duplicated, creating possible tax reductions. We’ve always wanted more activities for our teens. It’s right under our noses with our parks and parks that were planned, including provided land that were never developed. I want to find all the possible uses and improvements for our parks. I want to see more boards that include residents, especially long-time residents, to review some of the issues facing our city. I want to hear ideas and opinions from our city residents and those in the county that drive through every day, send their children to school here, use doctors, grocery stores, etc.
Together we can keep Richmond Hill “Branded”
Personal information: My name is Darryl Lawrence. I am 53 years old and have lived with my wife and two children in Richmond Hill since 2001. I am a U.S. Army veteran. I love my family, country, and city and hope for the community to trust me as a member of our city council.
Why are you running? So that my voice is no longer dormant. I want to be part of the proactive process of Richmond Hill’s growth as a community for all family types, different nationalities, and economic factions.
I was part of our 1st annual MLK parade and saw the total spectrum of people who voluntarily came together to celebrate something important. I was energized by who we are and what we can continue to become.
What are three biggest issues facing Richmond Hill?
1) Enhanced safety for pedestrians, cyclists, and commuters.
2) An increase in local employment prospects that offer a realistic career path for people willing to take advantage of such opportunities.
3) The lack of clarity that neighbors have with the logic of certain code enforcements.
What are Richmond Hill’s biggest strengths? The ability to maintain what drew me to the city in 2001. Richmond Hill has a small community feel that makes driving home warm and special as well as various community functions that draw people from their neighborhoods to eat, smile, and laugh together publicly.
Simultaneously, the other side of that strength is the ability to progress and be innovative in such a way that the community can enjoy retail/ commercial activities locally rather than drive into the busy, hustle and bustle metro of Savannah.
What are your priorities if elected? To first learn and listen. I am not a politician and I am not toting an all-knowing bag of answers and solutions. I want to understand the council that I will be a part of and work towards those good and necessary things that are possible, yet haven’t been done.
I will open my ears to our citizens and be one who will fight for the best this city can offer rather than go along with unsatisfactory answers from the past.
Personal information:David T. London, 48. I am a husband of 22 years and a father of three teenage children. Our family has resided in Richmond Hill for over 12 years.
My life calling has always been to help and serve others.
I’ve done this through 20 years of Active Duty military service, being an educator, and taking on various community leadership roles. I’m a West Point graduate, combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, retired lieutenant colonel, and former Deputy Commander of the Savannah District US Army Corps of Engineers. I am currently a public school educator, secretary for the state’s JROTC organization, and treasurer for the Richmond Hill High School Band Boosters.
I’m a recipient of the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, and Bronze deFlury, among several other awards.
Why are you running? I want to bring my passion for helping children and families, experience with constructing and maintaining communities, and knack for finding common ground solutions to the opportunities and challenges facing Richmond Hill.
What are three biggest issues facing Richmond Hill? Population Growth – We must be responsible and prudent as we manage the phenomenal population growth that our community has been blessed with (though it is indeed a mixed blessing). It’s vital to elect a candidate that knows how to guide our city through this process.
Lower our County Taxes – We need to be strong partners with the Bryan County Commission, specifically to ensure that Richmond Hill residents have fair county taxes.
Strong Schools – As we grow, we must continue to be good partners with our Board of Education to ensure Richmond Hill students are set up for productive futures after high school.
What are Richmond Hill’s biggest strengths? Schools - I came to Richmond Hill because of our great schools. I stayed in Richmond Hill because our schools helped inspire my children to excel in academic, extracurricular, and social activities. Our schools must continue to strengthen kids to compete on a global scale in today’s complex economy.
Caring neighborhoods - We care about our neighborhoods and our neighbors. The camaraderie; concern for one another; and care for homes, yards, and communities is unlike anywhere else. Strategic Location – We are close to the region’s largest industries and agencies (Gulfstream, the Port of Savannah, military bases, etc) and transportation nodes (I-95, I-16, railroads, and the Savannah Airport). Our location helps provide stable incomes for many Richmond Hill residents and the growth opportunities we are now experiencing.
What are your priorities if elected? To grow and maintain strong kids, strong families, and a strong Richmond Hill community. To achieve responsible growth, lower county taxes, and a productive relationship with the Bryan County Commission. To ensure the concerns of Richmond Hill citizens are the priority of our city government.
Personal information: My name is Justin Nelson McBride I’m 31 years old. My wife and I were both raised in Richmond Hill and continue to raise our own children in our hometown.
I wouldn’t say I have a political party, I would say I try to believe my heart in what’s right. I started my own business in Richmond Hill when I was 19 years old and my wife also owns her own local business.
Why are you running? I am running because I feel like we are at a crossroads in Richmond Hill to where the growth is inevitable and if its it’s not done right then we lose everything that is desirable about our small town.
What are the three biggest issues facing Richmond Hill? Well obviously traffic is a huge concern and hopefully the plans and projects in place will resolve a lot of these concerns.
A big issue is the growth.
There’s only so much land left for developers to build on so I believe there should be stricter regulations on new development to make sure that it has that hometown feel. Richmond Hill is and always has been a part of Bryan county and I believe we are causing bigger problems by not collaborating with each other.
What are Richmond Hill’s biggest strengths? To me Richmond Hill’s biggest strengths have always been its land,history and location.
If we destroy our history and the land our location means nothing.
What are your priorities if elected? If I’m elected I will wholeheartedly stand for my hometown of Richmond Hill.
I would stand against unnecessary growth and development and focus on what our community actually needs.
I believe our history is very important.
Personal information: My name is John Ring, my wife Lisa Ring and our children have lived in Richmond Hill for 5 years. We have four children, two of our children graduated from RHHS, and our youngest attends RHMS.
I currently serve as an Infantryman in the Georgia Army National Guard, and majority of my background is in law enforcement. I am originally from Pennsylvania, I owned a landscaping business, and I was a Corrections Officer. I am currently elected as the Democratic Party of Georgia State Committee Member for Bryan County, Chairman of the Bryan County Democratic Committee, and Chairman of the DPG Veterans and Military Families Caucus.
I am member of the Richmond Hill MLK Parade Committee, Bryan County NAACP, and a mentor in the Step Up program at RHMS.
Why are you running? Over the past few years I have been working with members of our community to make Richmond Hill a more diverse and welcoming community to all. We need to continue with what we have already accomplished. I also want to encourage more community members to be involved in locally.
Richmond Hill is growing rapidly, we need leadership that will listen to the needs of our community and lead us in responsible growth.
Whether you have lived here your entire life, or just one week, I want to hear your thoughts and your vision of Richmond Hill.
What are three biggest issues facing Richmond Hill? Infrastructure Community Structuring City and County Relationship What are Richmond Hill’s biggest strengths?
Richmond Hill’s history, diversity, location, education/ schools, and our residents. We live in a city that when someone, or an organization is in need, our community comes together to help. That is our number one strength.
What are your priorities if elected? If elected, I want to listen to what our community has to say. As of now, I will focus on traffic safety, strengthening our diversity, improving our family and children recreation and facilities, preserving our oldest communities, small business growth, meeting the needs of our city growth, and ensuring our current residents are not given the burden of paying for the growth happening in Richmond Hill.