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Posted on Oct 29, 2015

It’s Clayton vs. Clayton in George City Council race

In the race to determine who will fill the position 5 seat on the George City Council, one thing is for sure: It will be Clayton.
That’s because Clayton O’Brien is challenging longtime Councilman Clayton Richmond for his position on the city council.
O’Brien, 59, has lived in George since 2008. A U.S. Army combat veteran, he came to the area working construction but has since retired.
O’Brien is running on the agenda that there needs to be more transparency in George’s city government.
“I think there ought to be some changes in how the city council conducts business,” O’Brien said.
Specifically, O’Brien would like to see citizens given more time to express their opinions or ask questions at city council meetings. At this time, a public comment period takes place at the beginning of the monthly meetings. O’Brien would like to also see a question-and-answer period at the end of the meetings so residents are given the opportunity to speak about the meeting, he said.
“I really think that is a disservice to the citizens,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien also believes there needs to be more traffic control in the small town. People are speeding through neighborhoods, creating a safety issue, he said. If elected, he would engage the community, said O’Brien, who has offered to head up a snow removal team of young volunteers in the community.
And the challenger also wants the city to better research potential revenue sources. The city should be more inviting to businesses, he added.
“I would like to see us pursue avenues that have potential for growth,” O’Brien said. “(The council) seems to be all right with business as usual and status quo. That isn’t going to get us anywhere.”
For Richmond, this is the first time in 27 years someone has opposed him in his bid for re-election. Richmond, who goes by Clay, has been a city councilman since he moved to the city in 1988.
“I’m ready to go another term,” said Richmond.
Richmond, 57, is on the George Community Hall board. He also has served on the Grant County Health District board and is currently mayor pro tem of the city council. Richmond works for Wilbur -Ellis Basin West.
In his time on the council, Richmond is most proud of the water and sewer systems the city was able to build as well as improvements made to the roads. Infrastructure also was a key tool in getting the economic development at the Port of Quincy industrial property north of George started, he said.
The city is looking at increased revenues from property taxes next year because that industrial property is expected to be fully sold by year’s end. The council needs to regroup and look at how it can continue that growth, Richmond said. The council also will be dealing with upgrades to the city’s sewer system in the future, he added.
Richmond believes he is the better candidate for the four-year position because he has the experience.
While everyone wants instant growth and prosperity, smaller cities oftentimes cannot charge ahead because they don’t have the financial resources to back them up, he explained.
With his 27 years of experience, he understands how local government works and how to get something accomplished, Richmond said.
Richmond described himself as a “truthful” person with a passion for George.
About 80 percent of citizens in George would be described financially as “lower income,” he said. And he falls in that range; he identifies with the citizens of George, he added.
“I love this town and I hope the best for it always,” Richmond said. “And I try to show that in my voting.”


— By Jill FitzSimmons,