McWilliams, Johnson face off again in primary

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 15, 2004

There are two candidates seeking the District 2 seat on the Butler County Commission.

They are Jesse McWilliams, the incumbent and former Commissioner Leroy Johnson Sr.

Each candidate received the same questions. What follows are their answers verbatim as they reported them.

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GA: Why do you want to be a Butler County Commissioner?

Johnson: I want to see the County move forward and help the people of the County.

McWilliams: To continue to work on economic development and good paying jobs creation, providing quality education for all children, managing and utilizing county funds wisely.

To continue to support initiatives that keep the citizens of Butler County and their property safer. Continue the positive and mutually respective working and supportive relationship that I have developed with the Sheriff and the Jail Administrator. Provide additional financial support to the Sheriff’s Department as county funds allow.

To remain steadfast in actively lobbying the legislature for a continuation of the Bridge Bond Issue money (Amendment II), and use this money to fix deficient bridges, repair paved roads and pave dirt roads.

GA: What do you see as being the top three problems the county will face in the next four years?

Johnson: In my opinion, repairing roads, education, and building a jail are the top three problems that face the county.

McWilliams: Adequate funding for road repair and paving dirt roads is critical.

Having capable and willing commissioners who understand t he critical need to move beyond being a road commissioner, to one who provocatively monitors the legislative process in Montgomery and lobby appropriately in the best interest of the citizens of Butler County. Work aggressively in support of economic development, and be conscious about pursuing available grant monies.

Provide a new county facility for the Sheriff’s Department as funds become available.

GA: What do you plan to do about those three problems if you are elected?

Johnson: I feel that the educational and road problems are national problems. No one agency can solve these problems alone. I plan to work together with agencies and people on the local, state, and federal level as well as the citizens of Butler County to see how we can come together as a team to solve these problems in order to enhance the lives of the people and children of Butler County.


I plan to lobby the legislature to create a new revenue stream for the resurfacing of county roads and to pave dirt roads.

I plan to continue to do the best that I can to remain a capable and willing team player on the commission. I speak with Representative Newton and Senator Mitchell on a regular basis regarding the initiatives before the legislature, or about the possibility of adding new initiatives that are in the best interest of the citizens of Butler County. Such as Amendment II. I attend county days at the legislature through the County Commission Association. In addition, I attend school board meetings and support the needs and initiatives set forth by the school board, to the extent possible. For example, I voted to appropriate emergency funds to replace a light pole that had fallen on the Georgiana campus.

We are well on our way to being financially visible enough to build a new, much needed, county facility for the Sheriff’s department. WE have deposited oil lease money and court costs fees in the escrow to finance the new facility.

GA: What type of working relationship do you believe you should have with other elected county officials?

Johnson: I feel that I will have a positive and productive relationship with my fellow co-workers. Since, we would be working for the good of Butler County and its citizens.


IT is imperative that as a Commissioner I actively cultivate and maintain a mutually respectful and supportive relationship with the other elected officials both locally, at the state and nationally.

Over the last four years, I have developed such a supportive relationship with the elected officials across the spectrum. This is evident in the working relationship I have developed with the Sheriff’s Department, Probate Office, Tax Collector, Tax Assessor, Circuit Clerk and District Attorney. In addition, as I stated before, I work very closely with Representative Newton and Senator Mitchell.

GA: Explain why you believe you can remain objective and always put the county’s best interests before you own.

Johnson: The County’s interest is my interest. If the county moves forward all the citizens of the County benefit including myself


During my tenure on the commission, I have proven repeatedly that I can be objective, flexible,

compromise when needed and still maintain a cheerful temperament. I do this because I truly believe that it is in the best interest of the people I serve, to work as a team for the betterment of all and not just for my personal interest.

GA: What would you like to be seen done to insure there are an adequate number of deputies in the county and that their pay and jailers’ pay is enough to keep them on the job?

Johnson: I would like to see the deputies and jailers receive better benefits and be paid according to their experience and training. They need to be on a system of tenure or merit much like the teachers and other state employees. They also need to have retirement benefits and become vested after ten years.


To the extent the county can afford it, I support a review of the staffing needs and salaries in the Sheriff’s Department.

GA: What do you do better than you opponents?Johnson: What I do is tell the people the true. I don’t say one thing and do another. I stand firm and get the job done..

McWilliams: I can only speak about myself and not my opponents.

I work collaboratively with people.

I work well with the other commissioners. I believe in being a team player.

I make it a point to travel the county listening to the needs, concerns and aspirations of people.

I take the time to visit people in their homes, community functions and churches. By keeping my hand on the pulse of the needs of the people of this county, showing them that I care through my actions I am a better and a more conscientious public servant.

I read and study to make sure that I understand intricate and in-depth matters.

I believe in the goodness and fairness of the people of Butler County.

GA: Why do you or don’t you support the idea of greater home rule for the county commission?

Johnson: I don’t support this because it could get out of control. That’s what we have a legislative body for to keep everything consistent throughout the state. The legislature keeps counties from going off the deep end.


I support home rule because we the citizens of Butler County know far better what is good for our county, than someone who does not live here.

GA: What is your philosophy as it relates to growth and the existing land use plan?

Johnson: Having served on the planning board, I feel that the existing land use plan is a good plan because it puts industry where it needs to be and housing where it should be. It is a solid plan that allows for new growth and a sound inner structure for sewage and business zoning. It allows the county to move forward.

McWilliams: My philosophy is one of shared interest between the citizens and its developers.

For more of the Q&A see the printed edition