Editor's Note: Voters of municipal elections on March 12 will decide several positions in Crestview and Laurel Hill governments.

To help readers make informed decisions at the polls, the News Bulletin has published profiles of each candidate running for these offices. This installment concludes the series.

Each candidate was asked to answer the same questions and received the same amount of space to respond. Candidates appear alphabetically.


Editor's Note: Voters of municipal elections on March 12 will decide several positions in Crestview and Laurel Hill governments.



To help readers make informed decisions at the polls, the News Bulletin has published profiles of each candidate running for these offices. This installment concludes the series.



Each candidate was asked to answer the same questions and received the same amount of space to respond. Candidates appear alphabetically.



LARRY HENDREN



Personal:Married to Karen for 34 years; four children and five grandchildren.



Very active in Relay for Life for many years, acting two years as a committee member.



Volunteer as a driver for the American Cancer Societyís Road to Recovery, taking patients to treatment and back home again, and work as a volunteer for Crestviewís Sharing and Caring food bank.



Relevant experience:



I have served four years as a Laurel Hill City Council member. With the exception of my first meeting, I have served the entire four years as chairman.



I currently write all ordinances, resolutions and contracts for the city. I am very familiar with all of Laurel Hillís ordinances, resolutions and the city charter, Robertís Rules of Order, Florida Sunshine Law, Florida statutes.



I also conduct a monthly internal audit of all city banking transactions.



Other education/experience: I have a Bachelor of Science degree from Troy University and an associate degree from the Community College of the Air Force. Having served 39 years in the U.S. Civil Service and 38 years in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, I have dedicated my entire adult life to public service.



Reason you seek this position: Iím running because itís imperative that the city continues to have oversight of the financial management program, and my experience can ensure this happens.



Voters deserve wise decisions for the use of their tax money. During my last three years as council chairman, our financial situation has gone from almost broke to having enough savings to start overlay of some streets in the near future.



A second reason for continuing my position on the city council is I do my research before voting on council issues. In-depth research will help eliminate mistakes and the associated cost to our citizens.



Biggest issue this position faces and how you plan to address it: The top issue affecting Laurel Hill in 2013 will be to decide if Laurel Hill should remain a city or be dissolved into Okaloosa County.



There are many factors to consider; however, the most noticeable issue is the condition of city streets. Our tax base is not sufficient to maintain streets in the condition our citizens deserve. I have drafted a fact sheet that will provide the pros and cons concerning dissolution.



Once completed and coordinated with Okaloosa County leadership, our citizens should have adequate information on which to base their decision.



JOHNNY JAMES



Personal: Married to Earnestine James; sons are Jonathan and Morion; three grandchildren; member of Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Laurel Hill. Volunteer coach and organizer for T-ball and other youth athletic programs.



Relevant experience:I was your city councilman for four years and am experienced in working in city government for the people of Laurel Hill. I worked to direct county and state funds to our city to make improvements, including fixing up our kids' recreation facilities in Gene Clary Park.



Other education/experience:Graduate of Florala, Ala., High School. Two years study at Lurleen B. Wallace Community College, Andalusia, Ala.



Reason you seek this position:There is more work to be done to help the people of Laurel Hill.



We need to fix the streets and attract more business to the town. We need to increase opportunities for our kids.



I am a listener and a worker and I get along with my fellow council members. I will listen to you and work hard for you.



Biggest issue this position faces and how you plan to address it: The biggest issue is fixing our streets and infrastructure and attracting more business and opportunities for our people.



But our resources are limited.



I will work with county and state officials to find grants that will help Laurel Hill grow and attract new families to start fresh on the Hill.



JOAN SMITH



Personal: Lived in Laurel Hill since 1975; widowed three years ago from husband, Harvel. Has four children who graduated from Laurel Hill School. Attend South Ebenezer Baptist Church.



Relevant experience:Former city council president, current mayor, vice president of North Okaloosa League of Cities, on the board of the Northwest Florida League of Cities. Lobbied in Tallahassee with League of Cities.



Other education/experience:Attended First Amendment Foundation seminars on Government in Sunshine, Ethics, and related good-government topics.



Reason you seek this position:I want to serve the people of Laurel Hill on the legislative side of government as opposed to the administrative side. I donít need credit; I'm not a credit-taking person. I just want to do my job and serve my neighbors.



Biggest issue this position faces and how you plan to address it: Acquiring grants to improve our city roads and infrastructure. We've made mistakes in the past and we need to correct them.



Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or brianh@crestviewbulletin.com. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.