Richmond Hill High School teacher Russ Carpenter announced Wednesday he will be running for Floyd Hilliard’s soon-to-be-vacated post 2 seat of the Richmond Hill city council. Last month, Hilliard decided to run for mayor when Mayor Richard Davis said he had no plans to run for re-election in November.
Carpenter, 40, is a lifelong resident of Richmond Hill. He majored in political science/government at UGA and Armstrong. He currently teaches U.S. government and Modern U.S. Military History, an elective he brought to RHHS.
"I teach government, so obviously I know U.S. government at the state, federal and local levels," Carpenter said. "That knowledge will definitely help me. I’ve also been involved in several city campaigns in prior years. This is the first time it’ll be my campaign."
Carpenter said if elected, his priorities would be to "improve property values and the quality of life in Richmond Hill. We got a good thing going here, and I want to make sure we continue to move in that direction."Carpenter said the parks department is one of the city’s strengths and he would like to see the city expand on that trait. He said J.F. Gregory Park is a tremendous asset to the city, and he would like to see that type of recreation expand into the enhancement of Boles Park and the creation of walking trails. He said this could only increase property values.
On the other hand, Carpenter said he is against populating the city with billboards and unattractive buildings that current ordinances seem to allow.
"I would seriously look into limiting billboards, especially if near a residential neighborhood," he said. "I mean, look at that huge electronic billboard at the crossroads – was that really needed? I have an interest in increasing commerce, but we need to do it in a way that will also protect property values and protect the aesthetics of Richmond Hill."
Carpenter said buildings such as the ice dispenser on Hwy. 17 are an example of how the city should take a look at its ordinances regarding the types of building that should not be allowed in Richmond Hill.
"It’s an ugly metal building with some shrubbery around it. It’s an eyesore, and buildings like that could bring down property values."
Carpenter said issues like these are important because the economy has already taken a toll on property values, so the city should take measures to increase values. Among the ways he believes this could be done is through a tree ordinance "with teeth," landscaping medians and infrastructure improvements, such as repairing damaged streets.
"Casey Drive has long needed to be paved," Carpenter said. "DOT and the county have jerked us around, so the city may have to pave it. There are some other streets in the city that need resurfacing as well."
Thus far, Carpenter is the only one that has announced intent to run for one of the two city council seats that will be on the Nov. 3 ballot.
Councilperson JoAnn Bickley’s Post 1 seat will also be on the ballot.
The qualifying period runs from Aug. 31 to Sept. 4.