Robbie Ward has lived in Richmond Hill, Georgia since 1974 when his parents, Bob and Suzanne Ward, brought him home from the hospital. He graduated from Richmond Hill High School before attending Savannah Technical College, Armstrong Atlantic State University, and Georgia Southern University. Robbie and his wife, Lisa, have three children, Hailie, Emilie and Zane.
Robbie began his automotive collision repair business in Richmond Hill in 2000. Ward’s Auto Painting & Bodyworks grew to include 200 employees in eight stores in southeast Georgia and north Florida. He sold the company in 2016. Robbie supported several local non-profits including Richmond Hill United Methodist Church, the Richmond Hill Rotary Club, the Richmond Hill/Bryan County Chamber of Commerce, the YMCA, the Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival, the Bryan County Dog Park, the Buddy Walk, The 200 Club, The Shriners Hospital for Children, and various organizations supporting the US Armed Forces at Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, just to name a few.
#1 Name something specific in the last 12 months that you have personally done to make Richmond Hill a better place to live, work, and play?
To live, work, and play in your community is often not something all people accomplish. Some have to work outside of their community and come home only to live and play. In addition to paying plenty of property tax, in the last 12 months, and far beyond, I’ve made the conscious effort to shop, dine, and play locally. I will continue to do this and promote this kind of behavior across the City. I’ve also supported many non-profits. #localfirst
#2 If money was no object and the decision was solely up to you, what’s the first thing you would do if elected?
This would be a dream— I know it no easy task to fund a city’s needs and desires! But if elected and figuring out how to pay for wants, needs and dreams was not an obstacle, I would diversify, expand upon, and enhance existing infrastructure and public safety, and then create as many self sustaining community assets as possible. I would ensure our city was debt free, had the best roads, safety vehicles, sidewalks, recreation opportunities (like the aquatic center), and of course state-of-the-art schools, programming, and everything else that makes our citizens feel taken care of.
#3 What visions do you have for Richmond Hill and how soon do you think those could become a reality?
Vision— the key to success. My vision includes implementing programs to expand the commercial base in Richmond Hill. We cannot sustain our community on rooftops alone. Commercial expansion will create more revenue from property tax and sales tax. The more items available for purchase locally will increase our SPLOST programs, thus giving our City more available funds for items our citizens not only want, but also need!
#4 What can be done within city council to influence or create more family-friendly amenities?
It is a City’s job to create the environment for business to succeed, not to create success for the business. If a business can make money in our community, it will come to our community— making a profit is the ultimate goal of being in business. Cities can create incentives to lure businesses to their community, and can also make it easy for them to open their doors once here, and then the people of the community ultimately decide the fate of their success. I will not only work to create programs that offers guidance to a potential business owner, a road map for success in Richmond Hill, but also a program that promotes supporting local business first!
#5 What are your thoughts on growth? Do you have any related plans or goals?
Growth is coming whether we want it or not. I will work with my fellow council men and women to create a plan that outlines what we will do with growth. Like any good plan, it will need modification along the way. Understanding what actions will be needed before they are needed is part of my personal success. I will use my experiences to help guide our City with smart growth. I don’t have any personal plans that will incur literal growth.
#6 Do you feel the schools are overcrowded? How do you plan on working with the Board of Education to manage this?
I have not had a chance to personally dig into the school population issues. What I do know is that our schools have always been the number one reason people desire to live in Richmond Hill. I will work with the board of education to ensure they know what decisions are on the table for the City and to understand how those decisions could impact our schools. I will do everything in my power to protect the integrity and excellence our schools currently have, and to have open lines of communication with the board of education leadership.
#7 Do you feel that Richmond Hill should offer their own ambulance service? If no, why not? If yes, what can be done to help make this happen?
Does the City need its own ambulatory service? At a minimum, improvements to what we have currently in place need to be made. If it makes financial sense to create our own service, that option may prove applicable. It’s imperative that emergency services be top notch, and as noted in my campaign bio, safety is a very important topic to me (this includes emergency services). If elected, I will be exploring this situation as soon as possible.
#8 What are your thoughts on the fact that most of the schools in Bryan County don’t have a dedicated resource officer?
From my understanding, the board of education makes the decisions on resource officer staffing and locations. The safety of our children is extremely important. I will work with the board of education to ensure the standards are being met or exceeded! All of our schools should have a resource officer, and some may even need more than one!
#9 What is your opinion on the Bryan County Commissioners recent LVAP funding decision?
Decisions are never easy to make on behalf of an entire community. I do not have an opinion on this specific topic as I have not been privy to both sides of the story.
#10 If the public has questions during this campaign, what’s the best way to contact you?
Call me any time, (912) 657-1046.