Councilperson Travis Brooks faces challenger Lola Givens in Donalsonville
Councilperson Sara Robinson faces challenger Anne Odom Stark in Iron City
Time is running out on your opportunity to vote. Counting today, October 31, Seminole County voters have three days to cast a vote in the November 5 General Primary/Special Election. All advance in person voting will be conducted in the Office of the Probate Judge in the Seminole County Courthouse, located at 200 S. Knox
Avenue in Donalsonville. Advanced voting continues during regular business hours until 5:00 p.m. on Friday, November 1.
The only contested local races on the ballot will be incumbent Travis Brooks facing challenger Lola Givens for a City of Donalsonville Council seat representing District 1, Post 2, and incumbent Sara Robinson facing challenger Anne Odom Stark for Town of Iron City council seat representing Post 1.
Your final opportunity to vote in this election will be from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Election Day, November 5. Voters in the City of Donalsonville’s municipal District 1 are reminded that because of the hurricane damage to the Donalsonville Lions Hall, voting will take place in the Seminole County Courthouse. Iron City voters will vote in the Iron City Community Center as usual.
If you have any disability, need assistance getting into the Courthouse or have other special accommodations or questions, contact
Election Superintendent Michael Jon Rogerson, or Kristy Wilson Chief Deputy Registrar at 229-524-5256.
The Donalsonville News presented the candidates questions on the issues. Those questions and the answers from the candidates appear below . . .
Why do you want to serve on the City Council of your community?
Travis Brooks: I love Donalsonville and I love people and would like to continue serving the residents of Donalsonville and working to make it a great place to live.
Lola Givens: I would like to be a part of making Donalsonville a model city; a place that is safe, unique, fun, affordable and attractive to newcomers.
Sara Robinson: For 72 years I have lived in Iron City and all citizens are like family. I want to do all I can to help them.
Anne Odom Stark: I moved to Iron City 14 years ago with the aspiration (a strong desire to achieve something high or great) of raising my son as a single mother, in a community where he would feel safe, free to explore and grow, and to feel at home.
What makes you a qualified councilperson and the best candidate to represent your district?
Travis Brooks: I have served the residents of Donalsonville and Seminole County for over 40 years in the capacity of Law Enforcement, Emergency Management, Emergency Medical Technician, 34 years in the fire service with 27 of those years as Fire Chief and the last four years serving on the City Council; I hope that this will qualify me for the job.
Lola Givens: I have eyes to see what the citizens of our city need. Ears that will listen to the heart of the citizens. A heart that is compassionate to all our citizens. Hands that are willing to work to make Donalsonville an even better place to live.
Sara Robinson: After retiring as Postmaster in 1997, being City Clerk in the 1960s, I felt that I could represent the people.
Anne Odom Stark: I have been a citizen of Iron City for the past 14 years. I have 30 plus years’ experience in customer service relations, meeting the public, in business administration and in finance.
What steps will you take to eliminate blighted properties, to strengthen city regulations/and to effectively enforce ordinances to make businesses, tenants and home and property owners clean up and keep their property clean?
Travis Brooks: We have ordinances on the books concerning these issues so I would continue to work with the Mayor, City Manager, other council members and the department heads to ensure the ordinances are kept up to date and enforced.
Lola Givens: Become familiar with the current city ordinances and make sure that these are being enforced. Update the current city ordinances if they aren’t ones that will cause our citizens to make the proper adjustments to make our city an attractive place live. Encourage our citizens and business owners to do things to their properties that will welcome others.
Sara Robinson: I will encourage the people to clean up their property.
Anne Odom Stark: I will reach out to property owners to ask what resources we as a community could provide to help them remove debris and restore property. I will work to come to an agreement that all citizens would be able to abide by.
What three issues are the most important to you in making your community a better place to live, work and raise a family?
Travis Brooks: First, we need more jobs; this, I believe, would attract more people. Second, with more people we would need more housing. Third, more events that the community as a whole could participate in.
Lola Givens: #1 Safety of all citizens – upholding our laws so that our families don’t have to live in fear; #2 Welcoming new families and businesses – making our city a place that is inviting to new families and new business owners; #3 Health – having an environment that is conducive to a healthy atmosphere – no old dilapidated storefronts, run down houses, trash piled up along the roads and other eyesores.
Sara Robinson: To keep the vacant lots mowed, to demolish the old buildings, to repair the old railroad crossings and repair the streets. I would encourage the citizens to help with these problems.
Anne Odom Stark: Security, communication, involvement.
What are your community’s greatest opportunities and challenges over the next five years? List three and explain.
Travis Brooks: I believe that as of right now our biggest asset is to continue working on the eDonalsonville project. I would like to see more of the citizens involved in community events and be more concerned about voting in elections.
Lola Givens: #1 Expanding employment opportunities – If we have more employment for people to choose from they will consider staying here rather than moving off to find a better job. Then maybe those that have gone off to college will desire to come back to Donalsonville to raise families and find gainful work; #2 Tourist Industry – We have Lake Seminole that has in previous years been a place that draws a lot of people for bass tournaments, hunting and camping. We need to find ways to beautify our lake area and increase the desire for these activities. We have the Seminole Recreation Dept. At one time this was bringing in a lot of revenue to a lot of our businesses, we need to bring in baseball and softball tournaments; #3 Healthcare – Seminole County is blessed to have several fine physicians and a great hospital. We already have people coming to our doctors and hospital from the tri-state region and beyond. We need to find ways to bring in specialty doctors, rehab facilities and chiropractic care.
Sara Robinson: To remove old demolished houses – to encourage more businesses to open – for the citizens to remain as one family.
Anne Odom Stark: Cleaning, beautifying town, more security, bringing in new businesses 1) still working on clean up, restoration from “Michael” 2) to have the community patrolled more often by law enforcement, form a “check in” or “buddy” system for our elderly/shut ins 3) bring in more businesses, encourage and allow new and different types of businesses.
What are your community’s three biggest negatives/obstacles to a positive and prosperous future? What action would you take on each?
Travis Brooks: The first obstacle is Donalsonville is land locked, we do not have enough land left large enough for a large industry; second again is the lack of housing if more people did come; third not enough events or activities.
Lola Givens: #1 Taxes – find ways to bring in revenue other than continuing to increase taxes; #2 New – job opportunities – work to find ways to bring more employment to Seminole County; #3 Presentation – when people ride by or come to visit our city we want them feel that this is a place that they would enjoy living or starting a business. Therefore we need to encourage our citizens and business owners to make sure their properties are attractive to the eyes of newcomers.
Sara Robinson: To remove demolished houses, to repair railroad crossings, and to repair streets. I would request the owners of the houses to inform the city officials and the railroad company.
Anne Odom Stark: Attitude, non involvement, indecisiveness. 1) Try to have a positive attitude myself, be a motivator, focus on blessings, not trials. 2) Encourage and motivate citizens to become more involved by presenting more opportunities for them to do so. 3) Have the community “vote” on decisions to be made.
Do you support the establishment of a Seminole County museum, art gallery, cultural center and event venue in the vacant Donalsonville firehouse complex on Woolfork Avenue. What will you do as a councilperson to make that happen?
Travis Brooks: Yes, the city has agreed to provide the old fire station for a museum and as a council member I will work with the Mayor, City Manager and other council members as needed.
Lola Givens: Yes: Work with the BetterWay Team to find ways to bring people into our town that have talents to promote this. Look for outside funding that can be used to create an atmosphere that makes our establishment stand out above others.
Sara Robinson: Yes, I will help in any way that I can.
Anne Odom Stark: Yes, I will encourage citizens to share historical items and to use the gallery for personal and community gatherings, events.
As a member of the City Council, how would you make your community more attractive and affordable for startup businesses?
Travis Brooks: Work with the Mayor, City Manager and other council members to make sure the city is kept clean, resurface streets, which is scheduled to be done soon, also work with them to look for ways to assist start up businesses.
Lola Givens: Help the owners of the properties in Seminole County realize that if they update their properties, keep them clean and don’t overcharge the tenants they will have a greater opportunity for renters. Offer incentives that will draw business owners to your property.
Sara Robinson: I would encourage the business and would support them.
Anne Odom Stark: Form a volunteer committee to clean up debris, paint old buildings. Advertise our town in outlets besides just home.
What should the role of government be in regards to economic development, the revitalization of downtown and the transformation of vacant storefronts into visible vibrant units of opportunity?
Travis Brooks: Government cannot provide tax dollars for private enterprises but they can help other groups to try to find funding.
Lola Givens: The government should make sure that ordinances are upheld and that safety is a priority for everyone.
Sara Robinson: The local government should encourage them in every way.
Anne Odom Stark: The government should make available any types of financial and physical resources that are available for use by small towns.
A portion of the current SPLOST is designated for cultural enhancement in the City of Donalsonville. List at least five specific projects you would spend that money on.
(Note this question was presented only to City of Donalsonville candidates)
Travis Brooks: I would rather answer that question on a case by case basis because what I would spend it on does not matter, what the citizens want to spend it on is what matters.
#Lola Givens: #1 Museums; #2 Downtown entertainment; #3 A Veterans Park; #4 Art and Craft shows; #5 Bicycle and walking trails.