(Editor’s note: The following is a copy of the communication provided to candidates, that have challengers either in the June primary or the November general election, seeking elected positions. We last week published answers for those that responded as well as including the questions provided to the ones that did not respond.

Charlie Newton alerted us that he indeed had submitted his answers at 8:30 a.m., ahead of the deadline to submit.  We confirmed that was true, but last week’s edition of the Progress had already been printed and indicated he did not reply. The email did not pass through our email server. Once we requested IT assistance, the email was downloaded at the Progress. We apologize for this error, and will be providing Newton’s full answers in this week’s edition as part of this story.

The initial letter to candidate’s is below:

 In past years during an election cycle, the local chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. has hosted political forums. The McDuffie Progress staff always worked with these ladies during the planning of the questions and also covered the forum. That usual format is not taking place due to COVID-19. There is a Thomson-McDuffie Chamber of Commerce online forum June 2; however that forum takes place after our newspaper will have gone to press earlier that same day. Since we have a duty to inform our community, The McDuffie Progress is submitting questions to you and all other candidates. The candidates’ answers will be published in full, without editing, in the Thursday, June 4, edition of The McDuffie Progress.

Please respond with your answers in email to wparham@mcduffieprogress.com no later than 9 a.m., Monday, June 1. We will not accept answers from candidates received past that deadline. The questions for you are below. Please stay within the word limits for each question.

McDuffie County Chairman

Charlie Newton IV (R)

(1. Introduce yourself and tell us what you want to share about yourself, your occupation, family, and interests. (100 word limit)

My name is Charlie Newton.  I am a lifelong resident of McDuffie County.  I am a 1985 graduate of Thomson High School and a 1989 graduate of the United States Air force Academy.  After serving six years in the U.S. Air Force, I resigned as a Captain and returned home to my family’s business, McDuffie Feed and Seed.  I am a member of First United Methodist Church.  For the past 19 years I have served as Chairman of the McDuffie County Board of Commissioners and on boards of directors of numerous state and local civic organizations.

2. What is your vision for McDuffie County in both five and 10 years? (200 word limit)

It is difficult to define a vision for McDuffie County in terms of a one, five, or ten year period.  Instead I will give you my overall vision for McDuffie County.  My vision is for McDuffie County to have assets that make people want to visit, amenities that make people want to stay, and opportunities for our children to be just as successful here as they would be by moving to a large city.  We move toward this vision by showcasing and improving our cultural and recreational assets, by constantly pointing out the positives of our community and school system, and by making sure we not only have the infrastructure needed by industries looking for a new location but also an available top notch workforce they can depend on.  McDuffie County has been working on these issues for many years; however, our recent partnership with the University of Georgia Archway program has given these issues a much needed focus and has already provided great success in helping us accomplish this vision.  Please do an internet search for Georgia Trend Four for the Future if you would like to see an example of this.

3. How would you bring economic development, jobs, and growth to McDuffie County? (150 word limit)

There are many factors that industries take into consideration when looking for a new location.  Available sites, tax rates, utility availability and cost, location incentives, and transportation availability are among the list of things looked for, that we have done a pretty good job of making attractive.  There is something major that we do not have.  Broadband infrastructure is a must in today’s world.  What I will do to make sure we can compete with the larger communities is our area is to make sure broadband comes to our community now.  Broadband is a huge part of the sales tax vote we will have on the November ballot.  By supporting it you will give us the ability to not only provide broadband service to our industrial parks but also to build the fiber framework that will serve the entire community.  This is our #1 economic development issue.

 4. What are your goals for improving the community and quality of life in McDuffie County and how would you achieve those goals? (150 word limit)

Quality of life activities are those things we do when we are not at work.  Recreation, culture, dining and shopping are a few on that list.  On the recreation front there are plans to increase gym floor space, available tennis courts, improve Big Hart and Raysville campgrounds, and continue development of the Little River water trail.  Much of this is also part of the upcoming sales tax.  On the cultural side, our tourism group will continue to support events to numerous to name from agri-tourism to the Blind Willie Blues Festival.  Restaurants, grocery stores, and retail are all population driven.  We are using cellular telephone technology to show them that while we only have 22,000 residents, we are a major shopping and dining destination for the citizens in the counties surrounding us.  We have seen increased interest from several restaurants and hotels due to having this data.

5. As an elected official, how can you increase citizen engagement and transparency in government? (100 word limit)

Getting people to be more involved in setting the direction for McDuffie County has been difficult in past years.  People as a general rule will not come to a meeting unless they have a grievance to express.  Archway has had tremendous success in changing that for us.  Participation has been outstanding in our issue workgroup meetings.  We will continue to use their model and encourage citizens to give input.  All of our meetings and correspondence follow the Open Records Act ensuring the public has full access.  I am available to answer questions anytime at McDuffie Feed and Seed.

 6.  Why would you be the best person to fill this position? (100 word limit)

Dearing, Thomson, and McDuffie County have an excellent working relationship.  This is evident in all of the services we provide as a group rather than individually.  Each time we combine a service we either save money, get better service for the same amount of money, or in some cases both.  Our most recent success was the fire service.  I will continue to foster the atmosphere of cooperation between all governments so we can provide better service for less money.  Past experience from when my opponent was a commissioner tells me that he will not.

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