March 4, 2013 10:20:31 AM
Drainage issues in East Columbus are among the top concerns facing candidates in the race for councilman in Ward 2.
Incumbent Democrat Joseph Mickens is being challenged by Republican Susan Mackay. Mackay finished the term of her late husband, Doug Mackay, before losing to Mickens in the 2009 election by 36 votes.
"One of the bigger issues facing the people of Ward 2 who live downtown is crime," Mickens said. "Ward 2 is a big ward. But the biggest problem facing East Columbus is drainage problems. We still have major drainage problems in East Columbus. We have problems with flooding in some areas. We have received some grant money and put in a new ditch on Taylor Street and we've done some pipe work on Maple Street. We are in the process of getting another grant to do some work. We still have problems on Beech, Maple and Poplar streets."
Mackay said infrastructure is a key factor in the drainage problems in Ward 2.
"We have a lot of failing infrastructure and we need to continue to work on these problems," Mackay said. "The detention pond next to the East Columbus Gym was never completed and I plan to finish it. It is helping with flooding, but the pond itself is not safe. I also plan to finish the track around the detention pond so that it can be used like the park it's supposed to be.
"I am also concerned about the economy because of the sequestration and the cuts facing the Columbus Air Force Base. This will decrease our tax base. We have to be fiscally responsible."
Meanwhile, Caledonia Mayor George Gerhart has announced he will not be running for re-election in the upcoming Caledonia municipal election. Gerhart defeated Bill Lawrence in 2009.
"I tried to treat everyone the way I would want to be treated," Gerhart said in a letter sent to The Dispatch Friday. "There is only one way to run any municipality, and that is the legal way."
Gerhart did not say why he would not be running for another mayoral term.
In other election news, Columbus business owner Bo Jarrett has qualified to challenge incumbent Robert Smith in the race of mayor. Longtime Ward 4 Councilman Fred Stewart faces challengers Marty Turner and Maurice Webber. Incumbent Ward 5 Councilman Kabir Karriem will face challenger Kenneth McFarland. Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau board member Whirllie Byrd will challenge incumbent Bill Gavin in Ward 6. Both are running as Republicans.
Ward 1 Councilman Gene Taylor and Ward 3 Councilman Charlie Box are running unopposed.
The last day to qualify for the municipal election is Friday at 5 p.m. The primary election will be held May 7. A run-off, if necessary, will be held May 21. The general election is June 4.
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