Candidates for Grantville Council Post 1 disagree on city governance

Incumbent councilman and former mayor Jim Sells faces challenger Dee Berry, owner of Bonney Castle, for Grantville City Council Seat 1.

By Laura Kemper / [email protected]

Incumbent councilman and former mayor Jim Sells faces challenger Dee Berry, owner of Bonney Castle, for Grantville City Council Seat 1.

Sells, 72, has been involved in Grantville municipal politics for the past eight years, first as mayor and now as a city councilman. Berry, 81, a former member of the Grantville Historic Preservation Commission, is also well-versed in municipal politics, having served as city clerk in Seaside, Calif., when she lived there. The two differ in the philosophy of how a city should be run.

Sells ran for the seat he now holds because he thought there should be a businessman on the city council.

“Grantville is a multi-million dollar business,” he said. “If you don’t run it like a business, you lose a lot of dollars that belong to the people.”

That’s why the city has a city manager who can study spending, present priorities and maintain the city’s budget, Sells said.

Sells is a businessman who has invested in numerous properties in the city, which he now manages.

“I built this business from the ground up,” Sells said, adding he believes it is the largest employer in Grantville.

He uses that business acumen in the Council chambers when making decisions, Sells said.

But Berry disagrees. The purpose of business is to make money, while the purpose of government is to provide services, she said.

“Utilities are the only part of Grantville that should be run like a business,” Berry said. “(Tax dollars) need to go back to the people.”

Berry, the owner of Bonnie Castle, has lived in Grantville since 2006. She hosts Tea with Dee at her home on Sundays to get a feel for what Grantville residents want, Berry said.

“I relate to people and the problems they have and some of the things they think could be better,” she said.

Taxes, utility bills and things for the kids to do are high on their priority lists, she said. Council members should review the city’s utilities to see if there can be any relief for the residents it serves, she said. The city also needs a youth center and recreation director, Berry said.

Sells also believes the city needs a recreation director, he said. The position was created when he was mayor, and he would like to see it again, Sells said.

Both Berry and Sells would also like to attract business to the city. Sells said high-speed Internet is key to attracting new business to Grantville, and it’s something the city has been working to provide for years.

“We’re always working on high-speed Internet to attract businesses, to provide services to residents,” Sells said. “Those are the two most important things. Businesses pay the bills and residents get the services.”

In addition, Berry noted that the city needs a new image.

“We want to be known for more than The Walking Dead,” she said.

She and her husband, James Berry, an award-winning veteran, founded the now-defunct Grantville Chili and Blues Festival several years ago, and she is currently a member of Kiwanis of Grantville, which also works to bring positive events to the city.

Early voting begins Monday, October 17 for the November 8 election.

Please put in the applicant’s mug box next to their information:

Dee Berry

Age: 81

Address: Posta Street 2

Occupation: US Department of Commerce field representative for the Census Bureau

Education: BA in General Science and Christian Principles from Brewton Parker College, Associate in Business Administration from Monterey Peninsula College and Elementary Education from Central State University

Political experience: City clerk in Seaside, California, former member of the Grantville Historic Preservation Commission

Spouse: James O. Berry

Jim Sells (I)

Age: 72

Address: 5966 Highway 29

Occupation: Real estate investor with Hope Property Investments, former Delta Airlines pilot

Education: Graduated from Kimball High School in Dallas, Texas

Political experience: Mayor of Grantville for four years, Councilor of Grantville for four years

Leave a Comment