By Nick Nunn, Staff Writer
Five candidates for elected positions in the City of Rutledge met Monday evening for a candidate forum. Joellen Artz and James Bratcher are running for the position of Mayor of Rutledge, Timothy Smith and Bill Spann, incumbent, are candidates for Rutledge’s District 1 seat on the city council, and Bruce Altznauer is running unopposed for the city council District 3 position. Patrick Yost, publisher of the Morgan County Citizen, served as moderator for the forum.
Yost began the event by explaining the format for the forum: each candidate received five minutes for an opening statement, after which questions would be posed and each candidate would have two minutes to answer the question. At the end of the question section, the candidates had another five-minute time period to give a closing statement.
Bratcher began the opening statements, saying that during his eight years as a city council member, the council has been able to create a new park, improve the city’s infrastructure and create “good communication” with the county. “The main thing is we haven’t raised taxes in the last eight years or gone up on the water system,” said Bratcher.
Spann was the mayor of Rutledge for over four years before beginning his eight-year tenure as council member. “I think we’ve done a good job,” said Spann, and noted the good job that current mayor, Spencer Knight, has done.
Smith cited his love for Rutledge and his desire to gain political experience as the reasons for his candidacy. “I think I need to get more involved,” said Smith, who said that his “good basis” for understanding public works will aid his ability as a council member.
Altznauer described how he fell in love with Rutledge and decided to move here ten years ago, thankful to “get out of Gwinnett County.” Altznauer said that he will be “honest, fair, and openminded,” and is “looking forward to working with” the city council.
Artz relied on her 40-plus years of management experience to justify her belief that she is the best choice for the mayor position. “If you are a good manager, you can manage anything,” said Artz. Artz complimented the job that Knight has done as mayor but criticized the city council for not being proactive. “I want to work with a city council that is more proactive.”
The candidates responded to questions dealing with their top three priorities for Rutledge, how they plan to deal with the future impact of Baxter International in Rutledge, and how well the current mayor and city council responds to the needs of the citizens. (See Forum Highlight charts).
In his closing statement, Spann said that “most of what we have done is positive” and that citizens can contact council members when they have concerns. He also acknowledged that there is a “long list” of things that could be done in Rutledge if they “had the manpower or the money.”
Smith closed by saying that he enjoyed speaking in the forum and seeing how many citizens attended the forum. “It shows how much we all care about the city,” said Smith.
Altznauer stated that he is looking forward to serving on the city council, where he will keep an open ear and an open mind to Rutledge’s citizens. “I’m here to represent y’all and I’m going to do a damn good job at it.”
Bratcher said “God bless Rutledge” and asked the audience members to pray for the nation’s leaders. He also stated that whoever gets elected to the open positions in Rutledge will do a good job.
Artz thanked the audience members for showing up and thanked the current administration for their service. She proposed holding a retreat to brainstorm ideas for the city if she is elected and said, “I think I have the best skills to accomplish what this city needs.”
Click here for more photos from the Madison and Rutledge candidates’ forums.