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Candidates open up during public safety forum

Police pension and retirement fund hot topic

Photo by Elaine Rackley
Henry County Fraternal Order of Police held a candidate forum Thursday at the Ted Strickland building in Stockbridge. Thirteen candidates responded to three questions from the Henry Police FOP.

Photo by Elaine Rackley Henry County Fraternal Order of Police held a candidate forum Thursday at the Ted Strickland building in Stockbridge. Thirteen candidates responded to three questions from the Henry Police FOP.

An estimated crowd of nearly 60 people listened as 13 candidates vying for Henry County political seats answered questions and made campaign promises.

The candidates took part in the Henry County Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Public Safety Forum. The forum was held Thursday, at the Ted Strickland building in Stockbridge.

Henry County Police Sgt. Wayne Bender, and FOP President said the purpose of the public safety forum was to identify those candidates who would support a pay plan. 

“This would help public safety personnel identify what their pay would be during the course of their career,” said Bender. “Since Henry County has gone from being in the middle of the metropolitan area in public service pay to the bottom, we have become nothing more than a training academy for other departments who continue to take our personnel. This creates an unsafe environment for public safety personnel and those we are paid to protect.”     

One of the three questions asked during the public safety forum was, what measure would the candidates take to ensure police personnel’s retirement funds would be in place and intact at the time the police employee need the funds.

“We don’t mess with your money,” said Bill Toney. “This is your money, I would vote no.” Toney, a Republican, is running for the Henry County District III commission seat.

Jacqueline “Jackie” Anderson-Woods, a Democrat, said she would research to determine how to protect the Henry Police retirement fund.

“I would never vote for anything that would affect your pension to cover our budget,” said Anderson-Woods, who is seeking the Henry County District II commissioner seat.

“I could never, ever find a reason to defeat the purpose of the retirement program,” said Tommy Smith. “I could never imagine taking money from any retirement fund.” Smith, a Republican, is running for Chairman of the Henry County Board of Commissioners.

Henry County Commissioner Chairman Elizabeth “B.J.” Mathis is a Republican, running for a second term. She said the Henry County pension fund is firm.

“The pension fund for Henry County is strong and has been audited every year,” said Mathis. “Our credit rating is stronger than the federal government, we are financially stable.”

William J. “Bo” Moss is seeking the Henry County District I commission seat.

“I understand they pay six percent into their pension plan,” said Moss. “I strongly believe that money should be untouchable.”

“I would not support the removal of excess funds from the pension fund,” said Carlotta Harrell. Harrell, a Democrat, running for Henry County Commission Chairman.

“I will not support taking pension funds,” said Gary Barham. “I would not vote to do this.” Barham, a Republican, is a candidate for the Henry County District III commission seat.

Other candidates voicing their responses to the Henry FOP’s questions were Henry County District I Commissioner, Warren Holder, a Republican who is seeking re-election; Jane Askew Rutledge, a Republican who is running for Henry County Chairman of the Board of Commissioners; James Mays, a Democrat who is running for the Henry County District I commission seat; Brian Preston is a Republican who is running for the Henry County District II commission seat; and Vincent Lotti, a Republican, who is running for the Henry County District II seat.