“Overall, we’ve done pretty good over the last four years, but we can and will do better in the future,” Mayor VanLandingham said while discussing his re-election plans Monday.
The mayor said one of his initiatives when he was first elected was to pull together the city council and administrative staff to develop a strategic plan for the city. The roadmap for the future has been followed well, according to VanLandingham.
“The economic issues have slowed us down and we lost our city manager in the middle of my first term, but the city council pulled together and has worked well together,” he said.
“We lost about a year and half, but having Chris Addleton back as city manager has made a huge impact on city government. I’ve also been pleased with the city staff. We’ve got some really good people on the staff. We’re not perfect, but Chris is raising expectations of what is expected and what we can do. In the long run this will really make a difference,” the mayor said.
During the last four years the mayor has put an emphasis on city leaders becoming more financially aware of city finances before casting votes.
“We’re working to make the financial reports more user friendly and to be a tool for councilmen to use in analyzing issues before making decisions. Over the last four years we’ve done a better job of making decisions based on the long term financial impact,” he said.
The mayor is pleased that during his first term the city invested with the county in expanding Milestone Industrial Park. He believes that Performance Food Group – Powell would not have relocated to Cairo if the park had not been expanded.
Mayor VanLandingham has also made nuisance abatement and beautification projects citywide a top priority.
“There is no question the city has become more active in condemning and cleaning up nuisances. We’ve dealt with a lot of issues, but there is a lot more work to do. The work we have done makes a very positive impression, and I’ve had people compliment the city for this work,” Mayor VanLandingham said.
If re-elected, VanLandingham says he will continue to push for the city to reduce its debt.
“It would be my hope that the council would do everything possible to reduce the debt. It will be a key issue over the next four years. We must continue to have a better understanding of the return for the city before we spend money,” he said.
The mayor says that projects like CNS-Cable would never have been invested in if city leaders had had the financial information available to officials today for analysis.
“CNS probably should have never been done, but it was, and we are working to do the best we can with it, and we will continue that in the future,” the mayor said.
Mayor VanLandingham is pleased the council decided to invest in the proposed expansion of nuclear Plant Vogtle. “The decision made many years ago by local officials to invest in the original construction is paying dividends to the city today and I believe our investment in future power generation will be beneficial to Cairo for many years to come.”
Another initiative in a second term, according to the mayor, would be a push to make the city more “customer friendly.”
“The city should treat all residents as you would a customer, because they all are customers of the city in one way or another. I’d like the city to be more conscious of people’s needs,” the mayor said.
Mayor VanLandingham says he will continue his open door policy in a second term and he encourages public comment. “I am always willing to listen to anyone who has an idea how we can improve this city,” he said.
While the mayor pledges to be a good listener, he says he will push the council to always consider projects with eyes focused on the long term.
“We deal with a lot of problems and issues and it is easy to only consider a short-term fix. We’ve got to do better at looking out long range before making decisions,” he said.
Although the job of mayor is much more time consuming than VanLandingham thought, he is eager to keep the job.
“It’s much more full time than I thought. You would not believe the meetings, functions and other obligations that come with the job. I go to as many meetings and events as I can, but there is no way I can be at them all,” the mayor said and then added, “I’ve enjoyed the job. This is my community and I have a lifetime invested here. I, like a lot of others, want to see the community get better, and that is why I would like to continue to serve.”
VanLandingham is not new to public service, having previously served for eight years as a city councilman, and is a past chamber of commerce president and chairman of the industrial development authority.
The mayor is following in the footsteps of his forebears. His grandfather, Robert Roscoe VanLandingham, served as mayor in the 1940s, as did his (Robert Roscoe’s) father, Robert Lee VanLandingham, who was mayor during the formation of Grady County. The incumbent mayor’s own father, R. L. VanLandingham, served 20 years on the city council in addition to 16 years on the board of education.
Mayor VanLandingham is the retired CEO of Monrovia Growers.
Qualifying for the upcoming municipal election opens on Monday, Aug. 31, at 8:30 a.m. and will conclude at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 4.
Elections for mayor, District 2 city council and District 4 city council will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 3.