What’s Next for Walker County? Commissioner Candidates Sound Off
Walker county voters in the republican primary have picked businessman Shannon Whitfield to challenge long-time commissioner Bebe Heiskell in the general election.
Heiskell this year is running as an independent.
The focus of the election has been how to deal with the county debt.
Shannon Whitfield, who won the primary election handily, says Walker county is more than 80-million dollars in debt.
He says that’s where he would start if he wins the race as sole commissioner.
SHANNON WHITFIELD, Republican Candidate ” …and so I’ll have an advisory team that goes in with me on day one that will work with me as a financial advisory team, and try to work as quick as we can to get a budget in place. ”
Whitfield says his goal is to find at least a million dollars in savings and cuts for the county.
Bebe Heiskell has been commissioner for 15 years.
BEBE HEISKELL, SOLE COMMISIONER “With reference to the debt, I have great differences with my opponent on that ..and so does my accountant and our auditor , we do not agree with him at all.”
Heiskell says the county owes on a bond issue for the industrial park, and is dealing with a pension plan that’s an unfunded liability.
And, there’s one more.
BEBE HEISKELL “The SPLOST debt is the largest part of the debt we owe and the people voted on that and should not be upset with it.”
Whitfield maintains Walker county under Heiskell is in trouble.
SHANNON WHITFIELD “The county has no reserve ..a rainy day fund as some would call…if we had any unforseen tragedies or storms or anything where we needed quick access to cash …the county’s not in a position to take care of that.”
And he points to the unsuccessful Mountain Cove Farms project.
Whitfield says the current administration has put a 15.3 -million lien against that property.
SHANNON WHITFIELD “We’re not in a position really to sell that property because the property is not worth the value of the lien.
BEBE HEISKELL, SOLE COMMISSIONER “I’m going to turn that into a county recreation park–that way we’ll have to support it like we do everything else.”
Whitfield noted that voters also would like to end the sole commissioner form of government.
SHANNON WHITFIELD “They are looking for Shannon Whitfield to be the last sole commissioner of Walker county.”