NEWBERRY – Signs have begun to pop up across Newberry as the election draws nearer.
The City of Newberry General Election, which will be held on April 10, will have seven people running for three commission seats. The candidates are placed into three separate groups for the election. Citizens can vote from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Newberry Fire Station at 310 NW 250th Street.
A candidate forum will take place at Newberry City Hall at 25440 W. Newberry Road on April 5 at 7 p.m.
In Group One, incumbent Joe Hoffman will run against Tim Marden and Linda H. Woodcock. Incumbent Lois Forte will run against Barbara Hendrix in Group Two. In Group Three, incumbent Alena King Lawson will run against Monty Farnsworth.
Joe Hoffman has lived in Newberry for 14 years and has served as a city commissioner since 2002.
He is the owner of Hoffman Construction, Inc., and said his focus is on economic development, and he has been named “Leader of the Year” by the Newberry Jonesville Chamber of Commerce. He also wants to keep the small town atmosphere of the city while the city expands economically.
Currently, Hoffman said he is working to possibly bring a hotel complex and sports arena to Newberry and will supervise construction of Martin Luther King Park at no cost to the citizens.
Tim Marden, who has lived in Newberry for six years, believes his business background can help Newberry through this time of growth while still maintaining a small-town atmosphere.
He is the owner of Space Walk of Gainesville, and he has over 15 years in the hospitality industry and over 12 years in the insurance industry. Marden has been working for major corporations for over 20 years.
Marden said he would also like to branch out to grow restaurants and hotels to get the city through times when sports tournaments may not garner much money.
Marden said he wants to ensure the city government is a proponent of business, not a hurdle.
Linda H. Woodcock
Having graduated from Newberry High School in 1960, Linda H. Woodock has lived in Newberry over 20 years.
She said she would like to continue growth in sports development, but would also like to work with developers for a senior citizen center.
Woodcock notes the challenge of balancing economic growth with keeping the small town atmosphere, but said she thinks sports, seniors and farming will play a large role in the future of Newberry.
Woodcock has over 25 years of experience in education. Though she is retired now, she spends her time serving the Newberry community through her positions on the Planning and Zoning Board and the Cemetery Committee.
When hairstylist Lois Forte moved to Newberry from Gainesville in 1977, she said she was “hooked” on the small town atmosphere.
Forte said she has served on the Newberry City Commission for about 20 years and has been working for the Newberry Senior Citizen Program since 1997. She said her mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease has motivated her to work for senior citizen causes and will continue working for seniors.
Forte also said she will continue to work for improvement in community parks. As commissioner, Forte has played an instrumental role in building Triangle Park and hopes to have gazebos up in the park soon.
Barbara Hendrix’s role as executive director of the Newberry Main Street Program has kept her informed about the citizens of Newberry.
Hendrix said she has lived in the Newberry since 1991 and held a homestead in the city since 2008.
She says she works together with city staff to get grants. She and the Newberry Main Street Program helped the city get a $15,000 tourism grant and an $18,000 sports tourism grant.
If elected, Hendrix said she would like to create a Community Redevelopment Agency to give Newberry the funding and leverage to improve sidewalks, streetlights and other infrastructure improvements.
Alena King Lawson
Alena King Lawson was born and raised in Newberry. After retiring as the first and only black female lieutenant at the Gainesville Police Department, she became an investigator for the Public Defender’s Office.
She supported the management and operations of Diamond Sports Park by the City of Newberry and the Nations Baseball Project.
Lawson has been serving on the commission for about 10 years. Lawson said as commissioner she is working with the commission to revise the noise ordinance, grow sports tourism in Newberry and building a community center.
Lawson was recently recognized by Santa Fe College as one of the 2012 Women of Distinction.
Monty Farnsworth said he’s a third-generation Newberry citizen, living his whole life of 56 years in the city.
Farnsworth has been a nurse for 32 years, and his family also owns a business in Newberry. He has served on the commission previously, and was instrumental in bringing the Easton Archery Center and Nations Park to Newberry.
He said he wants to be a “watchdog” and stop wasteful spending. Farnsworth wants to spread recreation and entertainment to the senior citizens of Newberry and manage business growth so that new businesses won’t take advantage of the city.
An inside look at Newberry commission candidates
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