MEET THE CANDIDATES: Lowndes, Valdosta candidates in their own words (2022)

VALDOSTA – The Valdosta Daily Times sent emailed questions to candidates in the contested races for Lowndes County Commission District 4 and Valdosta City Council District 3.

India Bell, a candidate for City Council District 3, did not answer questions by the deadline for candidates to return responses or even past deadline last week.

John Burton III, a candidate for County Commission District 4, did not provide a photo.

A few edits were made to some responses.

Here is a list of qualified candidates via the Lowndes County Board of Elections:

Valdosta City

Council District 3

Thomas B. Mclntyre

India Searra Bell

Dr. Mattie L. Blake, Ph.D.

Lowndes County Commissioner District 4

John Burton III, Republican

Demarcus Marshall, incumbent, Democrat

Voters can also cast ballots for statewide races such as governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, etc., in the November general election.

Early voting runs Oct. 17 to Nov. 4 and will run 7 a.m.- 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and includes 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays, and noon- 5 p.m. Sundays. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.

The Lowndes County Board of Elections is located at 2808 N. Oak St.

Valdosta City

Council District 3

Thomas B. McIntyre

(Video) Meet the Candidates of Lowndes County, Ga 2012

Occupation: Engineer, Air Force and Army veteran

Age: 55

What makes you qualified for public office?

McIntyre: “I have a long history of service to my country, state and community. I began that service in 1988 by enlisting in the U.S. Air Force, completing that term in 1993. I continued to serve the state of Georgia by enlisting in the Georgia Army National Guard’s 121st Infantry division in the year 2000 completing that term in 2004. In addition, I’ve been active in the community for approximately seven years, working with neighbors and citizens in District 3 and across the city. I’ve also built strong relationships with the city managers, department heads, city employees and most of the City Council and mayor. I’ve served and continue to serve on several city and federal boards in addition to two nonprofit organizations.”

What are some of your accomplishments in work and life?

McIntyre: “I’ve been a single parent for the last 10 years. I recently attended the high school graduation for my youngest son, Thomas Jr. Doing this away from home was an additional challenge as I had no support system such as a grandmother, aunts and uncles to lean on for assistance. I raised my children while working 12-hour shifts on the weekends at Lowe’s distribution center while attending Wiregrass and VSU during the week for five years. At the end of the five years, I graduated with three degrees. Two from Wiregrass and one from VSU. I also earned an associate of science degree from VSU in 2009 for a total of four degrees. My highest degree is a BAS in human capital performance, which is essentially a degree in management with the use of technology. I’ve exploited my ability to learn new skills quickly and therefore, I have learned avionics, and worked on tanks and heavy-wheeled vehicles. I’ve worked in the field of industrial construction, millwright work, metal fabrication, hanging iron and pipe fitting. I built yachts for eight years and held the position of manager. While yacht building, I submitted many engineering and specification changes (more than 80) compelling the employer to create a new tracking system called the CAR system. CAR stands for corrective action request. I currently have eight years of experience in the field of information technology with an additional skill track in cyber security.”

If elected, what do you hope to accomplish in office?

McIntyre: “I’d like to see the approved park that (me) and my neighbors requested through the Neighborhood Action Association completed next year after mid-year’s budget approvals by the council. I’d also like to see more homeowners and an increase in high-wage jobs and a population increase. In addition, I’d like to see the blighted properties problem addressed, which will foster property value increases.”

What do you see as the three biggest challenges facing the city?

McIntyre: “Firstly, Valdosta is one of the poorest cities in the U.S. Poverty is responsible for higher crime rates and 30% of the working class is at or below the poverty rate. This is the biggest threat to the city. Next is the real estate condition and the lack of knowledge concerning real estate, living wills, trusts and life insurance.”

Where would you like to see the city in 10 years?

McIntyre: “I’d like to see infrastructure expansion, medium to large businesses here, the median wage increased to the national average, more home ownership and crime rates cut in half. The city also needs to be in an ‘intercept’ position when it comes to interstate traffic for tourism.”

If elected, what would you do to ensure transparency in office and access to the public?

McIntyre: “I would encourage citizens to attend City Council meetings which are already recorded and posted on the city’s Facebook page. I’d like to see a revamping of the city website to include managers and employee salaries, job descriptions, and a 10 to 15 history on employee attrition rates and COLA or lack thereof. Also listed should be businesses’ attempts to come to Valdosta if they’re coming and why or why not. In addition, whenever a mid- to upper-level management position is opened, it should be posted on the website and advertised along with position requirements. And, as potential managers apply, their names and credentials should be posted so the public can follow along to see who’s in leadership positions and why they’re qualified to be there vs. another candidate.”

Dr. Mattie L. Blake, Ph.D.

Occupation: Director of Nursing

Age: 66

What makes you qualified for public office?

Blake: “My life’s experiences in Valdosta, my entrepreneurship successes and my community involvement does qualify me for public office. Additionally, as a resident of Valdosta for over 40 years serving in a variety of positions that speak to the needs of the citizens while not being an elected official has provided me with the insight needed to meet the needs of District 3 and Valdosta.

“I’m honest to a fault. I believe that every elected official should diligently (try) to embrace honesty in all their decisions and actions.

“Experienced: I believe that being elected as a representative for District 3 will require me to be an objective representative. Therefore, I must meet the needs of District 3 and Valdosta as a whole. As a business owner, nurse and property owner, I understand the necessity to delegate my time in a manner conducive to achieving the goals that I aspire to obtain. That said, in my business I have always seriously planned for required meetings, read extensive amounts of materials in preparation for meetings and I have been accessible to district neighbors. I am qualified because I understand the process and the efforts required to achieve the goals necessary to move our communities forward.

(Video) Meet the Candidates 10/1/2013

“Self Motivated. As an elected official for District 3 and the City of Valdosta I stand ready to serve the primary interests of the people. I would consider myself as a conduit for the community to pass on their desires for their community.”

What are some of your accomplishments in work and life?

Blake: “As the 10th child of 15, I was the first to graduate college with a BSN (VSU), master’s degree in nursing MSN/Ed. (UOP), and doctoral degree in nursing (UOP). I am a member of the National and International Nursing Honor Society, The National Society of Leadership and Success, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Spring ’76, started the first parent support group in Valdosta, a member of Project Change, received humanitarian award from Dr. Milton Foundation in Tifton, Ga., etc.

“Most rewarding accomplishment is raising my four heart beats, two sons (Nakia and George) and two daughters (Angelia and Alicia).”

If elected, what do you hope to accomplish in office?

Blake: “If elected, my ultimate goal is to create an environment in which citizens are committed to maintaining a safe and prosperous community. That in and of itself will require great communication skills and sincerity in my efforts.”

What do you see as the three biggest challenges facing the city?

Blake: “In my opinion the three biggest challenges facing Valdosta are a. housing, b. crime, c. poverty/homelessness.”

Where would you like to see the city in 10 years?

Blake: “In 10 years I would like to see Valdosta as a melting pot that embraces every district to promote and plan in unison for the entire success of Valdosta’s without territorial lines being casted.”

If elected, what would you do to ensure transparency in office and access to the public?

Blake: “In an effort to ensure transparency, I would continue to embrace accountability that promotes transparency. Therefore, community meetings would be scheduled quarterly. A community newsletter would be posted on the internet to keep citizens aware of resources, laws and decisions made by me along with all of the other members of council.”

Lowndes County Commission

District 4

Demarcus Marshall, incumbent

Occupation: Commissioner, Army and Marine veteran

Age: 49

What makes you qualified for public office?

Marshall: “I am the facilities manager for the City of Valdosta; to which, I have been instrumental in re-purposing and renovating office space in City Hall, City Hall Annex, Customer Service Building, Georgia Department of Labor Building, Mathis Auditorium, Woman’s Building, pre- and post-COVID facilities management response and oversight of the new Unity Park Amphitheater. Prior to my role as the facilities manager for the City of Valdosta, I served as the public works superintendent and traffic signal technician.

“In addition, I teach for Valdosta State University’s master of public administration program. I’ve taught organization theory & behavior, information management, quality management in public administration, public administration & community-based organizations, and innovation & creative problem solving in the public sector.


“I have degrees in the following: BA in philosophy, master of public administration, Ph.D. in public policy and administration.

“Currently, I am the county commissioner for District 4. As the county commissioner for District 4, I represent the Moody Air Force Base area, Bemiss corridor, majority of the City of Valdosta, the airport area and Naylor community.

“I am responsible for approving budgets for general government functions and other county elected officials, board appointments, zoning requests, repairing roads, bridges, the infrastructure, and resolving issues throughout District 4 in Lowndes County.

“I strive to treat everyone fair, never be a stranger and value all my constituent opinions and feedback. I am married to Regina Marshall and we have three children (Drew, Merideth and Ashlyn). We attend Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church.”

What are some of your accomplishments in work and life?

Marshall: “As a county commissioner, I have been appointed on the board of trustees for the Group Self-Insurance Workers’ Compensation Fund board for the Association County Commissioners of Georgia. I have served on the National Association of Counties Community, Economic and Workforce Development Committee, Veterans and Military Services Committee, and Rural Action Caucus. I represented the state of Georgia in attending the National Association of Counties’ High Performance Leadership Academy developed by the late Gen. Colin Powell.

“We have paved and resurfaced over 25 miles of road in District 4 since my tenure. We have secured several manufacturing jobs with high-paying wages in Lowndes County. We have provided additional full-time fire service and trucks in District 4 of Lowndes County which includes the Bemiss location.

“We have provided funding to assist the youth and adults in diversion programs to reduce incarceration and recidivism. We adopted a policy to address private dirt roads and dedicating roads. As well, we have conducted salary studies for county employees.”

If elected, what do you hope to accomplish in office?

Marshall: “I hope to assist in transitioning Lowndes County into a post-COVID normalcy. I want to continue helping stimulate our local economy by providing an employee- and business-friendly community. I hope to help provide additional venues for our youth and young professional age population.

“I plan on assisting in addressing the crime within the cities located in Lowndes County and to ensure the safety of all our citizens. As well, I hope to work with other local, state and federal elected officials in providing additional resources for our county.”

What do you see as the three biggest challenges facing the county?

Marshall: “Currently, our county is doing well when compared to other counties and communities. Our finances are in order. We recently provided more fire protection for our citizens. Another manufacturing company is moving to Lowndes County and our property taxes are among the lowest in our region.

“Albeit, we can use some improvements in addressing some of our blight areas, water infrastructure and internet service in Lowndes County.”

Where would you like to see the county in 10 years?

Marshall: “I would like to see Lowndes County as continuing to be the economic engine hub for our region and possibly a state contender in one of the best places to live in Georgia.”

If elected, what would you do to ensure transparency in office and access to the public?

Marshall: “We have a duty and a responsibility as commissioners to keep our work public record. We at the county work with our county manager to ensure all requests are fulfilled in a timely manner. I aim to be open and honest with constituents because there’s nothing to hide. I make myself available to answer any questions at anytime.”

John Burton III

Occupation: Fleet Superintendent

Age: 52

(Video) Erin Price - Lowndes School Board District 3 @ Chamber Candidates - 2018-05-01

What makes you qualified for public office?

Burton: “I have lived and worked in Lowndes County, Georgia, for the past 30 years. I believe I have the knowledge and experience of living in the area to possess the insight needed to represent my district successfully.”

What are some of your accomplishments in work and life?

Burton: “I served honorably a four-year enlistment in the United States Air Force as an F-16 crew chief. I decided to stay in the area and moved from working on fighter planes to working on automotive, construction and farm vehicles. Upon my 10th year in the area, I accepted an opportunity to work for the City of Valdosta as a heavy equipment mechanic. After eight years of working as a heavy equipment mechanic, I became the fleet superintendent for the City of Valdosta, a position I currently hold today making this the 20th year working for the City of Valdosta.

I say work but I feel more like the duties I perform are in the service of the community.”

If elected, what do you hope to accomplish in office?

Burton: “If elected, I hope to work with fellow commissioners to form policy that will bring opportunity to the area that will markedly elevate the standard of living for the citizens of Lowndes County.”

What do you see as the three biggest challenges facing the county?

Burton: “Educating our youth, providing opportunity for our citizens and future proofing our local economy.”

Where would you like to see the county in 10 years?

Burton: “Honestly, in 10 years, I would like to see zero unkempt vacant lots and zero abandoned businesses.”

If elected, what would you do to ensure transparency in office and access to the public?

Burton: “If elected, I will create a County Commissioner District 4 Facebook page that will display all agendas and how all commissioners voted.

“An easy way for all to see the complete recorded minutes of every meeting during my term. It’s a natural tendency for all to perform at a higher standard when they know their behavior is easily observed.”

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1. Valdosta Mayor John Gayle - Candidate for Valdosta Mayor @ LCDP - 2015-09-14
2. Brian Browning - Lowndes School Board - District 3 @ Chamber Candidates - 2018-05-01
(Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange)
3. Welcome by Missy Sherwood and Pledge @ Chamber Candidates - 2018-05-01
(Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange)
4. 01407
(Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange)
5. Kevin Bussey - Valdosta Mayoral Candidate @ LCDP 2019-02-04
6. Any candidates? --Tom Gooding @ VLCoC
(Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange)

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