Newberry commission candidates differ on growth policies


Published: Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 8:20 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 8:20 p.m.

Tim Marden is making his second run for the Newberry City Commission after losing last year’s race, this time competing against incumbent Robert Fillyaw for voters’ support in the April 9 election.

Facts

Candidate profile

Tim Marden
Age: 40

Occupation: Insurance, Event promotion

Family: Wife: Danielle; Children: Tyler, Nicole

Elected posts: None

Robert Fillyaw
Age: 32

Occupation: Mortgage lending

Family: Wife: Lacy; Children: Reagan, Liberty

Elected posts: Current city commissioner

Marden was a first-time candidate last year and said he ran a pretty basic, and ultimately unsuccessful, campaign. This year, he said he feels he is running his first full-fledged campaign and has spent the past month knocking on doors.

He said that although the voters he has met are excited by the city’s efforts to develop sports tourism in the area, they also have questions about how to carry that vision through.

A big concern for them is the debt the city has accrued in recent years, he said.

Marden said he believes the current City Commission has been “trying to maintain the lifestyle instead of being more fiscally responsible” and tightening its belt.

“Well, we’re kind of working a little bit too much on the wants list and not necessarily so much on the needs list,” he said.

Fillyaw, who is in his first term as a city commissioner, said he isn’t concerned about the debt because it was accrued in order to finance positive projects for the city.

Fillyaw said he has focused on bringing growth to Newberry by attracting businesses and creating jobs, and he said the city has been pretty successful in that endeavor. If re-elected, he said, he plans to continue to emphasize growth for his hometown.

Fillyaw, a 32-year-old mortgage lender, has spent his entire life in Newberry. He said he hopes to continue leading it in a positive direction that encourages economic development.

“Newberry is the city I love. It’s the city I’ve grown up in. … I want to guide it and direct it in the right path to make sure it grows,” he said.

His efforts have centered on helping the city become a destination for sports tourism. If re-elected, he said, he will aim to bring in more restaurants and other activities for visitors to enjoy outside of sports when they visit.

Those additions are supplements to the sports programs that will draw in visitors, helping broaden the impact of Newberry’s economic development, he said. If you don’t bring in restaurants and other non-sports businesses, he said, “you’re missing the bus on the reason to have them (sports complexes) in your city limits.”

Although Marden said he would focus more on funding primary governmental responsibilities and basic needs such as infrastructure rather than sports tourism, he said he also considers it a key goal for the city.

He said his extensive background in the event promotion and hospitality industries will make him a solid addition to the City Commission as Newberry continues its development as a hub for sports tourism.

Marden, 40, has lived in Newberry for seven years and first came to the Gainesville area in 1990. He previously worked at the University of Florida, running three restaurants on campus and managing a workforce of about 100 people.

Now, he works for Infinity Insurance, an auto insurance company. He also helps his wife, Danielle, who runs Space Walk of Gainesville. The company handles events that range from children’s parties to corporate functions.

He said he feels undecided voters will see the value in electing someone with the business, hospitality and customer service background he possesses.

“I think those are the kind of big-ticket items that our city needs,” he said.

Contact Morgan Watkins at 338-3104 or morgan.watkins@gvillesun.com.

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