BNJ: Please provide a brief background/biography of yourself.
Greenway: I am Yvonne Greenway, and I have lived in Barrow County for most of my life. I have lived in Ward 1 for 19 years. I have been married for 34 years and have two wonderful sons. I worked for the City of Winder for 19.5 years, mostly in the planning, permitting and licensing department. I worked closely with the historic preservation commission, planning board and city council. I have a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Georgia, and I am certified by the International Code Council as a permit technician and as a zoning inspector. I am also certified by the Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission for Plan Review.
BNJ: Why did you decide to run for election, and what in your background makes you the most qualified candidate for this seat?
Greenway: Decisions made by city administration and the city council in the last year have given me grave concerns about the direction that the city is taking under its current leadership. The ultimate driving force was the 108.7% increase in the millage rate. Several citizens and opposing council members made suggestions of budget items that could have been reduced or eliminated but were ignored by the majority of the council. I believe that the people need someone to represent them that is willing to listen to their voices and not be lead astray by filibuster answers to questions. As a former employee, I have extensive knowledge of city ordinances and applicable state laws. Additionally, I have national certifications that require knowledge about annexation, rezone, conditional use and variance processes that will help me to make informed decisions.
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?
Greenway: Continued growth is inevitable but it does not have to be rampant, unsustainable growth. The highest density is not always the most compatible density with the surrounding properties. All applicants seeking to annex or rezone properties are required to answer questions about police, fire, public works and schools when submitting applications. The annexation/rezone applicants need to give detailed answers to the questions instead of yes and no answers. All applicable departments should be able to address the council answering the question, “At what COST can the city service this request? Will it have to build additional fire stations, police stations, water facilities, sewer facilities, roads or schools?”
I believe if the council is presented with the best options for sustainable growth from department heads, it will be the most beneficial for all of the citizens. Every situation involves multiple viewpoints and expectations. The key to all requests is knowledge and information. I have much concern and love for this city because my roots are deep. I will listen to all of my constituents and make the best decision for all parties involved, applicants and citizens.
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?
1. Transparency in city employment. A significant number of employees have left in the last 12 months, and many of the positions are still vacant or are filled with employees with no experience in their current position. Contractors are being used to fill many of these positions, which is not in the best interest of the city. The fees from the contractors greatly exceed what would be paid to a city employee. I believe all vacant positions should be posted and filled within 3-6 months of being vacated and eliminate as many contracted positions as possible. (finance director-CFO, planning director, etc.). Several of the employees of the vacated positions offered to assist with transitions. The expertise and knowledge of these former employees would have been very beneficial to the city to keep operations moving smoothly.
2. Transparency in spending. Some city services are served best by contracted services. However, if a contracted service/position is necessary, it should be bid through the RFP (Request for Proposal) process. Contracted services should not be given an open check book for the citizens’ money. The bid process requires contractors to be competitive and give the city and the citizens the best price for the service provided. There is at least one contracted service that has a budgeted amount of over $500,000 that has never been bid out. This is not spending the citizen’s money wisely. If a service is provided to the city over the $25,000 threshold, it must be required to abide by the city’s RFP policy by city administration.
3. Transparency in meetings. While all meetings are open to the public, the meeting agendas are not posted until the last possible minute. These agendas are usually hundreds of pages. It is not fair to the council members or citizens to receive an agenda packet with less than 72 hours to review the contents. I propose that a deadline for agenda items be set for every agenda. All employees, citizens, mayor and city administrator MUST be held to the deadlines. Agendas should be posted a minimum of five days prior to the scheduled meeting. This gives the citizens and all council members time to review the items for discussion and voting, ask questions and have the ability to make informed decisions. The citizens have the right to be involved and heard. Failure to make the agenda information available in a timely manner reduces the time for citizens to ask questions.