LAWRENCE COUNTY - ( March 27, 2022) - The Lawrence County Council candidates was asked four questions submitted by Lawernce County Zephyr subscribers.
Justin Grant is seeking Lawrence County Council District 4 Seat.
Here is Justin Grant's responses to those questions.
1. Some candidates use the term conservative in their campaign press release, however
the Lawrence County Budget is over $28 Million the highest on record. Explain to mean
how you will look at the future budget process?
Being conservative is being true to the belief that the government serves the people;
that government should be small, and taxes lower, and that debt and deficits put our
community in peril. While we are currently facing unprecedented inflation in this nation,
and our community is struggling, as many are. This inflation means that the products
and services the County utilizes will continue to increase and put enormous pressures
on the budget. Some of the County departments budgeted fuel costs for 2022 based on
2021 pricing, and with the major increase in the price of gas, the County budgets are
potentially no longer sufficient to cover the costs. The core mission of every council
member should be to ensure that we hold a line on a lean budget, that all person’s
associated with the county budget be asked to sharpen their pencils and find ways to
cut expenses; when new requests crop up during the year, to maintain the agreed upon
bottom line, we need to seriously evaluate the need and costs and make the tough
decisions to keep the budget balanced. We should hold the line, year in and year out,
and ask ourselves, will this expense to the County provide meaningful return for the cost
we pay. We need to find ways to improve efficiency and lower costs to the citizens.
2. The recent justice study calls for a $46 million new jail to be constructed at another
location, new justice center, and a fourth courtroom. As a county council member how
would you pay for this proposal, and what taxes would be utilized to pay for this?
While we are still waiting for the rest of the numbers on the proposed new justice
center, I have concerns about the massive expenditure that comes with it. Proceeding
down this path without fully understanding why the current facility cannot be leveraged
and or seeking alternative viewpoints on other potential solutions is not good
stewardship of our county funds. Such a large expenditure must be off set by savings
over the current facilities, be it in staffing, utilities, maintenance, etc. We cannot afford
a $46 million dollar project that will not cut costs for the community to help off-set the
cost for building. If there is no return on our investment, we should look at other
I am opposed to raising taxes on our community just for the sake of having a new justice
center. As I stated earlier, the core mission of every member should be to hold the line
on a lean budget. We need to explore all options available to us, and to ask the difficult
questions and bring these answers back to the citizens for a completely transparent
As a lawyer, I know the strain the Courts are experiencing, and the strain on the jail for
overcrowding. Building a larger housing facility for more inmates is not the only answer
to the issue, there are efficiencies that should first be explored. The Justice system is a
continuum of processes, each step in the process can and should be evaluated for
efficiencies and optimization, and once all avenues are explored and all suggestions
implemented, only then should the County consider spending money we don’t have to
solve the problem. The discussions will be hard, the process improvement difficult, but
the alternatives are too costly for our citizens, and the government has the
responsibility to ensure all possible solutions are reviewed before spending the citizens
hard earned money.
3. Why do you want to be a county council member?
I believe in this Country and our Community. I am invested in this community, I live in
District 4, and I own and operate a small law office downtown, and I see first hand what
hardships our citizens face each day. I see taxes raising, I see new expensive proposals,
and I see departmental budgets swelling into the million-dollar range. This concerns me
as a member of this community. I want to be part of the solution, I want to help build a
stronger Lawrence County, I want to help advocate for the citizens in District 4, and
make sure their voices are represented when it comes time to making tough decisions. I
want to be a voice for the community, but to do that effectively, I will make myself
available to the public and seek their input. To many have become disenchanted with
the political system, they see it as broken, and they have no voice. Well, I want to
change that. I want to be the conduit from the people to the Council and I want to know
what they believe. This is what our system was designed to do, and I want to help get it
back to where it belongs, back into the hands of the great people of Lawrence County.
4. How would you make sure county office holders keep within their established budget?
Primarily, most of these office holders are elected officials. The great people of
Lawrence County hold the office holders accountable for their actions by voting. If we
have an office holder that is spending more than budgeted, the public has an
opportunity to vote them out of office. However, there is little the Council can do once a
budget is published for a department. Only if the department heads come back for more
money can the Council act and help hold the line. If new expenditures come up that are
not budgeted, the first step is to see what line item in their budget will they trade for
the new need, or will this new request save the county money, and if so, what is that
return period. Let us have a full and candid conversation on the need, but a lean budget
that is balanced is the core value we should all attain for. This is not our money, it
belongs to the hard working people of Lawrence County, and they deserve responsible
management from the government.
At this time you can add additional information or communicate to the voter other things not addressed in these questions.
We have a great community, we have positive growth, and the housing market is brisk, and we are seeing signs of new development in and around the County. We need a solid group of elected officials that all share the same desire, to be the most efficient and lean government for Lawrence County, and to use what tools we have at our disposal for the betterment of our citizens. I want to be part of that process for the great citizens of District 4