Lawton, who is campaigning for mayor of Statesboro, identifies a wide range of goals and ideas


Ernest Larry Lawton has been busy campaigning for mayor of Statesboro and promoting an agenda broader than the two issues he spoke about at the start of his campaign.

Lawton, 70, business owner, truck driver and minister who has lived in Statesboro for 25 years now, grew up in Register but lived in other states before returning to Bulloch County. He is running for mayor as a challenger to outgoing President Jonathan McCollar, first elected in 2017. Early voting is now underway for the municipal elections which will end with the Election Day vote on Tuesday, November 2.

In an interview right after qualifying as a candidate in August, Lawton identified public safety and business development as his top areas of concern for the city. These are still high on his agenda, but in an interview this week he expanded the list to seven broad goals and also provided a written statement on his vision for Statesboro.

“The person who runs Statesboro for the next four years must love people more than they love themselves,” Lawton said in the statement. “This love he has will bind him to the people and cause the people of Statesboro to bond with him. When that happens, the town chief and the citizens of Statesboro become one, and they all talk about the same objectives. “

“When that happens,” he said, “nothing can stop them from reaching their potential. “

This statement was a “How will this be done?” ”Summarized under a list of seven statements entitled“ unlimited possibilities ”.

“Statesboro is a city of limitless possibilities,” begins this list. “1. Statesboro has the potential to create a loving relationship between public safety and its citizens 2. Statesboro has the potential to be not only known as a city that loves sports, but also known for the academic excellence of students who attend its schools.… ”

Youth and security

These statements correspond to its first two objectives, public safety and youth development. He also provided an overview of the seven goal areas with ideas for each. The other five areas are senior care, business development, veterans support, homeless assistance and home ownership.

In the area of ​​public safety, Lawton hopes to create better cooperation between the Statesboro Police Department and the community and encourage more minorities to seek policing careers. He also wants to make the Statesboro Police pay scale competitive with surrounding cities, he said.

For youth development, he would make education a priority over sport, he said. To do this, he wants to set up tutoring and learning centers in certain districts of the city.

“Since there is COVID now, people have gone virtual. … But a lot of parents can’t stay home with their kids, so we’ve been working to have volunteers sort of run these stations to help watch the kids, ”Lawton said over the phone.

He also wants to set up “youth motivation workshops”, aimed at keeping young people away from gangs.

For elderly care, it offers an Elderly Care Telephone Network and Elderly Visiting Programs to help “create an atmosphere of respect and love for the elderly”.

Business expansion

Toward the goal of business expansion, Lawton said he wanted the city government to find ways to motivate new businesses to locate in Statesboro and encourage banks to fund businesses for people in the area. community who have “an A-1 business plan”.

He also wants to encourage companies to give a second chance to people with a criminal record by hiring them. In this regard, Lawton is trying to lead by example with his own company, Hallelujah Transportation, a trucking company that moves shipping containers in and out of warehouses around the Port of Savannah.

“I’m trying to have a plan where I can hire people coming out of jail, but I’m trying to get in touch with the Parole Board so that can be incorporated into their parole requirements. “, did he declare. “They work with me for a year, and after the year they will have saved enough money to either have their own truck or continue working with me, but during that time we are going to train them. on managing money, buying a house and budgeting.

One-third of the salary of program participants would be withheld at the end of the program, Lawton said.

For “veterans support,” he wants to expand his efforts to help provide information to military veterans to get all the help they need and provide transportation to their medical appointments.

Help for the homeless

Lawton’s ideas for helping the homeless include providing temporary shelter, food and clothing, medical care, and finding ways to “help the homeless stop being homeless.” And to provide jobs for those who want to work.

Lawton knows there is already a homeless shelter, Open Hearts Community Mission, in Statesboro. But on the phone and in his outline, he said he wanted to offer shelter to “vagrants” and others not currently served.

To promote homeownership, he wants the city to support efforts to build affordable housing, provide information on organizations that offer financial assistance for buying a home, and provide advice on liability. owning a home, he said in the goal overview.

Public awareness

Beyond these goals, he said he would encourage city council members to meet with residents in their neighborhoods at least once a month and bring those ideas back to council meetings.

“So me as myself, I want to go out and talk to people,” Lawton said. “I want to have an open door policy for at least two to three days a week where you can just come without calling, so we can talk. The main idea is that we have to earn the trust of the people – and I’m not saying they don’t have it now – but they have to trust the government; they have to trust the leaders.

Then, if the city “has to raise taxes to get more pay scale” for the police, for example, “it would have that support,” he said.

A 1969 graduate from William James High School, Lawton worked in the automotive industry and later for the U.S. Postal Service before continuing his education and earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from Georgia Southern University in 2005.

He and his wife, the Reverend Deborah K. Lawton, are the founders of the non-profit organization Tri-County Ministries of Jesus Christ, of the Spirit Filled Baptist Church on Packinghouse Road where he holds the title of apostle and she is the current pastor, and of Hallelujah Transportation LLC.

Another story will report what both candidates had to say on a few issues, including the liquor store referendum which also appears on the ballot.


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