By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Voters have options in Richmond Hill council races
Candidate profiles show diverse, talented field of hopefuls seeking city’s three open posts
voting graphic

Here are profiles of each candidate for Richmond Hill City Council, starting with Post. 2. They’re in alphabetical order, by post.

Post 2 David T. London.

London is 49 years old and has been married 22 years. He has three children, one at Richmond Hill High School and two in college.

Here are his responses to our questionnaire:

"My life calling has always been to help and serve others. I’ve done this through 20 years of Active Duty military service, being a leader in the church, 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 the recipient of the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, and Bronze deFlury, among several other awards.”

How long have you lived in Richmond Hill?

"The Army brought my family here in 2003. We came to Richmond Hill for the schools and retired here for the people."

Why are you running for office?

"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."

In your opinion, what are the biggest issues facing Richmond Hill, and how would you solve them?

“Many residents in older neighborhoods have voiced concerns about flooding and drainage for years and feel ignored. While the city is now cleaning canals, repairing culverts, and cleaning out drains, city leadership needs to engage these residents to make sure city actions are addressing the specific problems residents are identifying.

Additionally, the city needs to explore which FEMA programs might help address our houses built at lower elevations.

Our small town feel comes from our safe, cohesive neighborhoods; locally owned small businesses; beautiful parks; and excellent schools. To keep that feel, we need to ensure our small businesses can compete as we grow; build family friendly amenities in our parks and attract family-oriented businesses to the new I-95 exit; keep our emergency services resourced; and keep sponsoring community celebrations like our second annual Martin Luther King Parade, Pumpkin Patch and Trunk or Treat.”

Post 2 Robbie Ward

Ward has lived in Richmond Hill since 1974 when his parents, Bob and Suzanne Ward, brought him home from the hospital, he said in his intro. Here’s the rest.

He graduated from RHHS, where he lettered all four years in basketball, baseball, and cross country before attending Savannah Technical College, Armstrong Atlantic State University, and Georgia Southern University. Ward and his wife, Lisa, have three children, Hailie, Emilie and Zane.

Ward began his automotive collision repair business in Richmond Hill in 2000, and it grew to include 200 employees in eight stores in southeast Georgia and north Florida. He sold the company in 2016. Ward listed a number of local non-profits he’s supported over the years, including Richmond Hill United Methodist Church, St. Anne’s Catholic Church, the Richmond Hill Rotary Club, the Richmond Hill/ Bryan County Chamber of Commerce, the YMCA, the Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival, the Bryan County Dog Park, the Buddy Walk, The 200 Club, The Shriners Hospital for Children, and various organizations supporting the US Armed Forces at Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield.

How long have you lived in Richmond Hill? If you moved here, why?

"I have lived in Richmond Hill for 45 years. I was born, raised and will be buried in this amazing place. This is not a short term commitment."

Why are you running for office?

"I’m running for office because of my love of community. I have always tried to give back in any way that I could. While working full time, it was generally in the form of charitable gifts and sponsorships. Now that I am retired, I can give the most important commodity any of us have, my time. I will continue to do whatever I can to move Richmond Hill forward."

In your opinion, what are the biggest issues facing Richmond Hill, and how would you solve them?

"I believe the biggest issues challenging Richmond Hill are similar to those challenging other communities where people want to live, work, and play— how to stay ahead of the growth curve and be fiscally responsible at the same time. Everyone wants infrastructure like roads and schools before the crowding sets in, but the challenge is maintaining the balance of timing and money. How will we pay to stay ahead? I faced these same issues while I was building my business. I understand how to navigate investing now with the uncertainty of what is coming in the future. As the City of Richmond Hill and the entire South end of Bryan County continue to outpace other areas of our state in growth, responsible and sustainable growth will continue to be an issue. Collaboration with all leadership is incredibly important. I will work to strengthen the relationship between all parties to best serve our citizens. I’m looking forward to serving you with “Common Sense Solutions."

Post 3 Bill Donahue, incumbent. 

A Ford Plantation resident, Donahue was appointed to city council in March 2019.

According to his responses to our questionnaire, he has served as chairman of the Memorial Hospital Foundation Board of Trustees; finance committee chairman for the Memorial Health University Medical Center Board of Directors; chairman of the Savannah Music Festival’s development committee and a SMF board member; president of the Ford Plantation’s Board of Directors.

Donahue is the former president of four biomedical companies and founded two others. He is a former partner in an equipment leasing company and advisory member of an investment group.

He has lived in Richmond Hill since 2002.

Why are you running for council?

“I was appointed to the Council in March of this year. I find that my background as an executive makes a positive impact on the issues that come before the Council.”

In your opinion, what are the biggest issues facing Richmond Hill?

The biggest problem facing Richmond Hill is balancing residential growth with positive commercial development and desired services.

Post 3 Mark Ott

Ott, a U.S. Air Force Academy is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy. Here’s the rest of his resume.

"In the Air Force, I was navigator on a B-52 crew. After the Air Force, I was a sales engineer for an engineering company, specializing in rapid prototyping, today known as 3D printing. After several years, I ventured out on my own, and started a company that provided rapid prototyping services.

Aviation was my passion and I was presented with the opportunity to work with a business aircraft manufacturer called Galaxy Aerospace. Galaxy Aerospace was eventually purchased by Gulfstream Aerospace.

After Gulfstream decided to close the facility I worked at, I began my career as an Aviation Sales and Account Manager for Jet Aviation. For almost 10 years, I was responsible for selling to and supporting various aviation departments. At one time I was responsible for seven different aviation departments, managing 40 plus aircrew and maintenance personnel. I was also project manager for several new hangar projects worth $3 million to $7 million.

Currently, I work at Gulfstream (my second tour) as a manager. Most of my job is considered confidential, but some of my responsibilities are meeting with and listening to customer’s feedback, providing engineering requirements, developing business cases and strategic planning. Similar skills that are needed as a city council member.

On a personal note, I have been married to my wife, Amanda, for 19 years. We have three kids, two that attend Richmond Hill High School and one that attends the Richmond Hill Middle School.

We are part of the Compassion Christian Church family. We like baseball, softball, Star Wars and Marvel movies, and going to the beach and mountains. I also like to hunt and fish.

Topics that are important to me:

• Public safety is a priority for my campaign. Making sure that our Fire and Police departments have the personnel, equipment and training necessary to protect our community now and in the future.

• Working closely with the schools is important to me since I have kids currently attending RHHS and RHMS. I would like the City Council and the Bryan County School Board to work together to provide a plan for the growth and help promote a safe learning environment for our children.

• The city’s infrastructure needs to be supported and planned for growth

• New streets and improving the old streets

• Traffic lights

• Drainage issues

• Parks

• Community gathering places.

At the Academy I was instilled with the values of “Integrity First, Service Before Self, Excellence in All We Do.” When the City Council seats came up for election, I felt a calling to serve this community. As you can see, I’m not a politician.

I don’t have an agenda. I know where I’m at in my life with my family and my previous work experience; I know I can help this city. I want to be Your Voice, a Voice for Everyone!"

Post 4 Les Fussell, incumbent

 Fussell’s retirement from the Air Force led him to Richmond Hill, where’s he been active in local government. Here’s what he’s telling voters.

"In 1992, after my wife, Janice, and I made the decision for me to retire from the US Air Force after an extremely rewarding 21-plus year career, we also decided to move back to the Savannah area to be close to our aging parents. God’s hand led us to Richmond Hill and to the house in Mulberry Subdivision we purchased in 1993.

Our daughters, Sarrah and Katie, completed their high school education at RHHS. Independently they chose Richmond Hill as their home after college and marriage. Today we have three granddaughters in RHHS (Marah, Kaden and Maleah) and one granddaughter (Maegan) in RHMS. In 2004, I created a small business with my son-in-law (Robbie), A Plus Quality Contracting, Inc.

I became involved with Planning and Zoning to be part of the solution and to make a difference as the secrets of Richmond Hill became more widely known. I can honestly say – I’ve made a difference and I wish to continue this journey as a City Councilmember.

Quoting Mayor Russ Carpenter at my appointment, “Anybody who knows Les Fussell knows he’s isn’t a yes man.” I bring to the table experience, integrity, and transparency. I represent every citizen and every business in this city to the best of my ability. Experience Currently serving as City Councilmember. City of Richmond Hill Planning and Zoning Commissioner 2003 – 2019. Committee member for the developing the Richmond Hill Georgia Unified Development Ordinance made effective June 6, 2017.

City of Richmond Hill Comprehensive Land Use Plan committee member, assisted defining many aspects of this strategic planning document.

Proud US Air Force veteran. Retired Chief Master Sergeant. Completed Leadership Bryan. Education: 1972 graduate of Robert W. Groves High School; AAS, Aircraft Maintenance Technology, Community College of the Air Force; BS, Professional Aeronautics, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University; Certified Professional Manager Program, Institute of Certified Professional Managers, James Madison University; Currently, senior manager, Technical Publications Operations, Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation. Effectively manage multiple budgets in addition to a very diverse staff.

Issues Growth and traffic concerns. Work with staff and GDOT to develop long term plans that support our projected growth, provide smart round-a-bouts with right turn lanes, and adequate right-of ways Strong supporter of Tax Allocation Districts (TAD) for economic development and redevelopment in designated TAD areas Shortage of technical skill workers to meet future industry staffing demands- I am a champion for bring a vocational/ technical school campus to Richmond Hill Existing neighborhood revitalization - where it makes sense and where the residents desire or need assistance; resolve infrastructure issues long term and not patching; drainage Recruit businesses – a common theme in our community is “…I have to drive to Savannah, Pooler, or Hinesville to shop and to eat…” or “…why doesn’t the city bring (any specific named business) here, I think they’d do good…” I will take the action to review with staff and fellow councilmembers the processes and typical expenditure for new business startup in Richmond Hill and determine if there are any incentives that can be offered.

Library: In August 2019, made the motion to donate 3.07 acres at the Town Centre for the new Richmond Hill Library. Supported approval of the Memorandum of Understanding between the county and city. Next steps are infrastructure and design. I do wish to be apart of this process.

Aquatic Center: I am a strong supporter of bringing an aquatic center to Richmond Hill and Bryan County. The best process for determine not only today’s needs and wants, but also tomorrow’s needs, is to engage with a consultant who is an expert in this area and has a resume of successes."

Post 4 Chakiris “Chuck” Moss

Moss, the Army Substance Abuse Program manager and alcohol and drug control officer for Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, has been in his position since 2014 as well as a mental health professional for over 30 years.

Here’s what he wants Richmond Hill residents to know.

"I owned an operated Moss EAP from 2000-2010 which provided Employee Assistance Professional services to the Departments of the Army (Fort Stewart / Hunter Army Airfield) and Navy (NAS Jacksonville and southeastern region). Along with my wife, we founded C Moss Ministries, which was an outreach ministry in Richmond Hill that operated from 2005-2011.

I had the great fortune of becoming an alumni of Leadership Southeast Georgia class of 2017 and Leadership Bryan class of 2016, which provided great insight regarding our local and regional outlook as well as required partnerships with our sister cities and regional partners. I previously had the distinct honor of serving as a member of the Board for Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Savannah, Inc., President of the South Georgia Chapter of the Employee Assistance Professionals Association, Inc., and Associate Pastor at Christian Revival Center in Savannah. I have been married for 33 years to my lovely wife Cassandra. We have two adult children (Whitney & Chakiris, Jr.) who both graduated from Richmond Hill High school and a wonderful granddaughter (Zuri)."

How long have you lived in Richmond Hill? If you moved here, why?

"We have lived in Richmond Hill since 2002.

Richmond Hill was and continues to be an attractive growing city for us and families who call Richmond Hill home. The city is uniquely located in a beautiful setting and close to many regional attractions and destinations. When we located to Richmond Hill, we saw the wonderful growth potential of the city and that has held true over the years. My desire for all current and future Richmond Hill residents to experience a safe, family friendly community that we have come to enjoy."

Why are you running for office?

"I am running for office to serve the citizens of Richmond Hill. I want to ensure that all citizens have an inclusive voice as we continue to smartly grow our great city. A key aspect to Leadership Bryan (County) and Leadership Southeast Georgia, are service and partnerships. As Richmond Hill grows, our sister cities and regional counties grow as well. It is imperative that we work collaboratively to ensure that we all benefit from that growth, as well as plan together as regarding potential impacts of that growth. In your opinion, what are the biggest issues facing Richmond Hill, and how would you solve them?

The current issues that are needing attention in my opinion are the infrastructure projects (roads, intersections, new home construction) that have to be addressed. Ensuring timely completion of current and future projects is of utmost importance. Secondly, as the city experiences rapid growth, planning for increased school aged students and schools space.

I will work with the school board and superintendent to ensure that current and future school construction and expansion plans are appropriately funded and timely. Third, is bringing retail shops and restaurants that will keep spending local and increase tax revenues. While there has been improvement in recent years, more can be done in this area. Many residents have listed this as a concern"

Post 4 Steve Scholar

Steve Scholar may be a familiar name to many. He was once editor and publisher of this newspaper, and has also served as a writer for other local publications.

Here’s Scholar’s pitch to voters.

"I’m Steve Scholar and I’m running for Richmond Hill City Council, Post 4.

I’m married to Barbara and have three children, Greg, Chris and Carrie. I hold an associates degree from the University of Maryland in business management, a bachelors degree in psychology from the University of Maryland and was awarded a masters degree from Boston University in counseling. I am a graduate of Leadership Bryan and several Department of Defense schools, including NCO Leadership, NCO Academy, basic journalism, advanced journalism, photojournalism, the editors course and the basic broadcasters course.

I am a retired Air Force public affairs officer, having served my country proudly.

During my time in the Air Force, I spent 10 years stateside, five years at RAF Alconbury, United Kingdom, three years at San Vito Air Station, Italy and two years at Ramstein AB, Germany.

Much of my time overseas was spent working with the Stars and Stripes newspaper with assignments that covered much of the world, including East Berlin, Somalia, Desert Storm, Kenya, Kyrgystan, Europe, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Yugoslavia, to name a few.

Because of injuries sustained while serving, the Veterans Administration has classified me as a disabled veteran.

My experience with all three branches of Bryan County local government makes me uniquely qualified to serve as a city councilman. After a stint working with local newspapers, I became the city’s first planning and zoning director in 2000. Some of my proudest accomplishments while serving as director include helping establish J.F. Gregory Park, leading the drive to establish the Veterans Monument in the park, including being the author of the words in marble at the monument, obtaining more than $3 million in grant funds, leading the effort to plant more than 300 crepe myrtles in the median from King’s Ferry into the city, establishing affordable housing in the city and doing an honest days work for an honest days pay. In 2013, I went to work for the Bryan County School System, working with exceptional children.

The four years I spent in the classroom with exceptional children were the most rewarding of my life. I was appointed to the Bryan County Planning Commission in 2015 and have served as its chairman since 2017. I know the needs of all three governments and know the key players in each. I will get things done because of that. I continue to do freelance writing for the Savannah Morning News, Bryan County Now and the Bryan County News, along with writing articles that have appeared in national publications. I have attended more than 150 meetings of the Bryan County Commission, the Bryan County Planning Commission, the Bryan County School Board and the Richmond Hill City Council to keep informed of ongoing issues, regardless of any upcoming elections."

How long have you lived in Richmond Hill? If you moved here, why?

"While serving in the Air Force I went to a military exercise at Fort Stewart and had some time to visit the local area, including Richmond Hill. Honestly, I fell in love with the city and area. When I retired from the Air Force, Barbara wanted to go somewhere warm, historic, by the ocean and with a strong sense of community. I told her I knew the exact place.

We moved to Savannah in 1994 and then relocated to Richmond Hill in 1997, so we’ve been here more than 22 years. We bought a house here and plan to live here forever. It’s our home."

Why are you running for office?

"The buck stops with the city council. You’re either part of the problem or part of the solution. I’m not the kind to sit home and complain. I want to be part of the solution. There are things and directions we can do differently to make our city a better place to live, work and play. We can be sure to represent every segment of the population and that’s something I plan to do with no concern about economic status, jobs, etc. No matter where you live in the city, you’ll receive the same consideration.

This is OUR city. WE can make it better. Help me do that."

In your opinion, what are the biggest issues facing Richmond Hill, and how would you solve them?

a. Establishing an ambulance service within the city limits and, preferably, on the city hall side of the railroad tracks. I’ll use my contacts on the county commission to make that happen. I’ll also explore the possibility of using SPLOST and grant funds for equipment purchases.

b. We need a full service recreation center for our teens. We need to establish that and other after school and weekend activities for our youth. We need things for them to do and they deserve a constructive, safe place to play, relax, do homework and just hang out. c. Seeing exactly what the feasibility study on the aquatic center says. If we can afford it, lets move forward making sure all age groups have equal access.

Again, SPLOST funds can be used to offset some of the construction and equipment costs. d. Maintaining and strengthening our police and fire departments to ensure our residents have a safe environment to live in. e. Treating all citizens fairly and equally. For me, that will happen from day one. Even if it isn’t what we want to hear, we have an obligation to listen and consider diverse opinions.

f. Forming a working committee, including citizen input, with the county commission and school board to explore solutions to adding more school resource officers, school overcrowding, taxing disparities, disbursal of future victims funds and establishing a sense of cooperation and trust.

g. Continue to toughen our development ordinances to make sure the city grows and looks the way WE want it to be.

Even though we have tap and connection fees for water and sewer service to new homes, we owe it to our taxpayers to consider impact fees on new construction. If we issue 200 residential building permits a year and had an impact fee of $300 per permit, for example, that would raise $60,000 per year to be used on expanding parks, fixing infrastructure, adding equipment, etc. It’s worth exploring. That could help keep taxes low with no ew fees.

h. Continue building sidewalks to connect neighborhoods to each other and commercial areas.

i. Work closely with the Development Authority and Chamber of Commerce to bring good paying jobs to Bryan County to both ends of the county to build our future and lighten the tax burden on residential property owners.

Sign up for our E-Newsletters