BNJ: Please provide a brief background/biography of yourself.
Piper: My name is Janel O. Piper. I have been a Georgia resident since 2014 and a resident of Statham for the past five years. I earned a bachelor degree in Psychology in 1977, a master degree in Community Counseling in 1994 as well as a certification from the National Board of Community Counseling in 1995. I have worked in the private sector for over 30 years. Since retiring, I enjoy quilting and creating memory quilts for others. Along with my husband (Mayor Joe Piper), we are active members of GWRRA (Gold Wing Road Riders Association), and I have been the chapter director for the past six years. Originally born and raised in Pennsylvania, I have been married for 44 years, have three adult children, six grandchildren and have lived in 11 cities in four different states.
BNJ: Why did you decide to run for election, and what in your background makes you the most qualified candidate for this seat?
Piper: When my husband was elected mayor, I started attending council meetings. Over the past 21 months, I have attended, in person, all but two meetings. I have observed and learned how the city functioned, watched the council make their decisions, then started to ask questions during council work sessions. As a citizen, I was concerned with the lack of respect shown to our police department, our city workers, and to the position of mayor. I decided to run for council as I have been reading the charter, have an understanding of what the role of a council person should be, and I feel I have the work ethics and dedication to make fiscally responsible decisions for the city.
BNJ: What should the city’s approach to the continuing growth in population be? How can the city best position itself to handle the inevitable continued growth?
Piper: The approach to city growth should be from the viewpoint of improving our infrastructure.
The best position would be for the city to become more self-sufficient in supplying Statham citizens with our own water and sewage system. The main focus would be updating our aging sewer and water lines, drilling water wells and eventually building a waste treatment plant. Becoming more self-sufficient will aid the city for future growth as those revenues would stay in the city instead of creating wealth for other cities or for the county.
BNJ: Aside from growth, what do you consider to be the top three issues the city is facing and will face in the coming years? If elected, how would you work to address those issues?
Piper: The top three issues are:
•aging water and sewer infrastructure
•drug trafficking in our city
•increased traffic on city roads.
As a council member, it would be my responsibility to make fiscally sound decisions that would assist the mayor with addressing these major issues that face the city now and in the future. A council member’s job is not the day-to-day operation of the city, nor to direct department heads. Their job is to make sure the citizens’ tax revenues are spent in a responsible manner, taking in account what the majority of citizens need and want. If the council and mayor can work together and address current and future needs, Statham will prosper.