The Georgia Southern University campus gathered at the Russell Union Ballroom on Wednesday for the 2017 Mayoral Forum hosted by the GS Student Government Association (SGA).
Valencia Warren, SGA executive vice president, acted as moderator for the forum.
Candidates Jonathan McCollar, John Grotheer and Incumbent Mayor Jan Moore each had one minute and thirty seconds to answer questions provided by the audience.
Below are the candidates responses to some of the topics discussed.
Addressing crime in Statesboro and GS campus
The candidates were asked about their plans for limiting crime on the GS campus as well as the Statesboro area.
Moore specified that the city currently has more plans for addressing the increase in crime but said the city would announce the plans on Tuesday.
Moore did stressed that the community needs report criminal activity.
“Until we come together as a community, its going to be hard to solve the problem,” Moore said.
McCollar wants the city to think about the environment that creates crime. His plan would be to provide better options and opportunities for young people. He also stated that the city needs to address the poverty within the city in order to combat crime.
“If you’re planning to fight crime at the police department, you’re doing it wrong because the police department shows up after the crime has been committed,” he said.
Grotheer agreed with McCollar and Moore, but added that Statesboro needed to eliminate drugs and gang activity in Statesboro and on-campus while also keeping highly trained police officers in the Statesboro community.
The following question regarding the safety and campus carry was asked: “Since the state of Georgia now allows open carry on college campuses, what will you do to ensure that this campus stays as safe as possible?”
The question was referring to the campus carry law passed back in May. However, the law only allows the concealed carry of fire arms, not open carry.
Grotheer stumbled to answer the question when he confused the policy with the open carry of alcohol. After clarification by Warren, Grotheer answered, “If its in accordance with the law, then I support it.”
Moore began her answer by reminding the audience that the city of Statesboro does not have jurisdiction over GS and that safety with campus carry can only be ensured with students completely understanding the law.
“There are a lot of people who are unhappy with this law for obvious reasons and its very complex as to how it is carried out,” Moore said. “All I can tell you from a standpoint is the more people understand how it works, what’s allowed and what’s disallowed, and students who choose to carry understand that as well, that’s the only thing in my mind that’s going to make it any safer.”
McCollar believes the city should promote firearm safety by utilizing the Georgia Southern Shooting Sports Education Center. He also stated that mental health resources should be promoted throughout the entire community.
“You don’t want any Virginia Techs or anything like that to happen within our community,” McCollar said.
McCollar stated that he was not happy with the law, but believes that since the law is present, it should be dealt with intelligently.
Diversity and Inclusion
Candidates were asked how they planned to make the city and campus more inclusive and diverse.
Grotheer began by saying he believes that the programs that the city promotes would be for all youth.
“I believe that the city can work with the recreation department and help nurture and develop those programs that would be best suited for our youth,” Grotheer said.
McCollar began his response by stating that he is the only candidate who has added diversity and equity inclusion to his platform.
“Statesboro has not always been the most inclusive community and as the next mayor of this city I’m going to definitely make sure that we get rid of that reputation of not being and fight to make sure that everyone that comes to our community feels as a part of it,” McCollar said.
McCollar plans to offer opportunities for the community to have conversations regarding barriers in the community and develop initiatives that will bring the city together.
Moore replied to the question by saying that she has not found a campus as inclusive as GS and that the only way the city can become more inclusive and diverse is through interaction with GS.
“I would continue doing what we’re doing which is asking students to be involved in our community to be servant leaders of our community and to show our community what diversity and inclusion can look like,” Moore said.
Voting for Statesboro’s 2017 mayor’s election will be on Nov.7.
To watch the forum, click here.