As veteran Rome city commissioners Bill Collins, Sundai Stevenson and Randy Quick head into the new year they shared their own top priorities for 2020.
♦ Collins, the owner of Collins Auto Clean-Up for more than 30 years and a commissioner since 1996, said Friday he would love to continue serving as mayor in the city he loves.
He was elected the city’s first black mayor this time last year in a five-to-four split in the commission against former Mayor Jamie Doss.
“Serving as mayor has made a great difference in a positive way,” said the grandfather of three who is a member of the National Black Caucus of Elected Officials. “It’s been a privilege to serve this city. I look forward to working to make Rome a better place to work and raise families.”
Collins said one of his main goals is to “use every tool in our tool box” to recruit new industries to the city and Floyd County in order to provide more higher-paying jobs.
“I’ve pledged to work really hard with the new Rome-Floyd Economic Development Authority,” he said. “I also want to keep the momentum going to make sure to take every measure we can to keep our drinking water safe and hold the people upstream accountable so our citizens won’t keep paying more for clean drinking water.”
He said finding a way to extend the city’s transit system into the rural areas also is important to him.
He added he’s looking forward to working with newly-elected commissioners Jim Bojo, Mark Cochran and Bonny Askew.
“I want to note the new ideas from the commissioners,” he said. “We need fresh ideas and we need a lot of those fresh ideas to work to the betterment of our community.”
♦ For Sundai Stevenson — a former social worker who serves as the chair of the Rome and Floyd County Martin Luther King Jr. Commission — providing affordable housing for Rome’s middle-income residents is of utmost importance.
“I work in housing every day in private property management and I see more and more people coming in trying to find a place to live and they’re getting very frustrated,” the couple’s class leader at Thankful Baptist Church said Friday. “This is important not only for people, but for businesses and industry if they want to attract and keep workers.”
Stevenson said she met a nursing student who had graduated and couldn’t find an affordable home in Rome. She’s seen the same issue with teachers who are forced to either commute into Rome or work for another district.
She said she’d also like to see the city focus more on making it easier for a sound stage to be built in Rome to enable those in the film industry to create more movies locally. This would not only help boost the local economy, but provide jobs for those graduating from local colleges in animation courses and the like.
“If we could get that here, that would really give us some leverage when negotiating contracts,” she said. “Rome has so much to offer with our topography and diversity and as a smaller town we could help keep production costs down.”
Continuing to work on eliminating blight from the outer edges of town in order to protect the integrity of neighborhoods also is a top goal for Stevenson.
“We have to do that through public and private partnerships,” she said, adding she plans on remaining a good listener for all of Rome’s citizens. “I want to help people solve their problems. That’s what I do.”
♦ For Randy Quick, a partner and general manager of Rome Radio Partners, the new year is an exciting opportunity to show those throughout Georgia and beyond why Rome is the place to be.
“With the opening of the new indoor tennis courts at the Rome Tennis Center, we look forward to hosting the ACC Tournament this year and all of the many opportunities this new addition will bring,” said Quick, a lifelong resident who served as chair of the Rome-Floyd Economic Development Authority. “With the new economic development model now in place, we will be focused on a spirit of cooperation that will grow our community and create quality jobs that will both retain our students and invite new families to pursue Rome as their home to live, work and play.”
The longtime Rotarian also is pleased with local efforts to revive the fight against homelessness.
“With the new collaborations now in place, we can strongly work together to better serve our homeless population,” he said.
Quick said he looks forward to welcoming the new commissioners when they are sworn in Monday.
“I’m grateful for their willingness to share their time and talents in service to the citizens of our great community,” he said.