Statesboro Mayor McCollar addresses students at town hall meeting

Emma Smith

Statesboro Mayor Jonathan McCollar held a meeting Tuesday night to allow students and community members to ask questions and voice their concerns regarding the growth of Statesboro.

The meeting was sponsored by Student Government Association senators Alex Conarton and Keyshawn Housey, and was McCollar’s second time addressing students since his election in November 2017.

Keeping graduates in Statesboro

A question was asked about the city’s plans to encourage recent graduates to stay in Statesboro rather than find jobs outside the city.

McCollar acknowledged that most students leave the city after graduation to either find better jobs or a higher quality of life, which city hall officials are trying to make more accessible.

“What we believe is that, through projects that we have right now, we’ll be able to create a higher quality of life,” McCollar said. “As a result, that higher quality of life will attract higher paying jobs, and with these higher paying jobs, we’ll be able to create an environment for students to find these jobs and stay in the community.”

Transportation

Another question regarded the city’s plans to add public transit to Bulloch County.

McCollar said he plans to establish a strong transportation system in Statesboro and encouraged students to attend the upcoming Transit Feasibility Study on March 7.

“What I’m hoping is that, with the public transportation system, that students will have the opportunity to get into our downtown areas and take advantage of some of the things [downtown],” McCollar said.

McCollar said he believes public transportation will add to the overall quality of students’ lives, especially for students without a vehicle who are seeking employment.

“I don’t know about you guys, but I wasn’t rich when I was in college, so I had to work and I had to use public transportation myself,” McCollar said. “We need young people with strong voices and innovative ideas to continue to engage into this conversation.”

Dry county student life

Housey brought up students’ complaints about Statesboro being located in a dry county.

McCollar pointed out that Bulloch County is one of only eight dry counties in Georgia out of 159 counties total.

“What that is telling me is that it’s time to really push in a different direction,” McCollar said.

When asked how long he predicted Statesboro would remain a dry county, McCollar explained that 30 percent of the city’s registered voters will have to sign a petition and have it verified at the elections office before any changes are made.

“Do I think it’s time for us to release that bondage? Yes I do,” McCollar said. “But at the end of the day it’s the people who have to get engaged as far as that’s concerned.”

Diversity and inclusion in the city

A student asked McCollar to expand on his initiative for inclusivity in Statesboro.

“What we’re wanting to do is work with organizations that are already existing in our community to create opportunities,” McCollar said. “At the end of the day, we have more things in common than not.”

McCollar said diversity and inclusion are part of the city’s economic development plan.

“[Major organizations] are looking for communities that have that diversity and inclusion, where their employees feel welcome,” McCollar said. “There’s money in diversity and inclusion, there are job opportunities in diversity and inclusion, and we have to embrace that.”

McCollar said what he loves about the current generation of students is how they view diversity and inclusion.

“Let me tell you something guys, you are on the right side of history as it relates to this. You are doing it right, and we want to embrace that,” McCollar said.

Emma Smith, The George-Anne News Editor, [email protected]