Morris, 65, is running in the special election to fill the unexpired term of former Ward 4 Marietta City Councilman Van Pearlberg. He faces opposition from Pearlberg’s wife, Patti, in the special election for the term ending on Dec. 31, 2013.
Following in the footsteps of his grandfather and father, Morris served on the council from 2002-05, defeating Pearlberg by just six votes for the Ward 4 seat in a runoff in November 2001. The Marietta High School alumnus said he decided not to run for re-election at the time for personal reasons.
“I had some personal problems in my occupation, that I just didn’t think it was right for me to run for re-election at the time,” said Morris, who works as a semi-retired independent housing inspector.
Returning to the political area, Morris said he has the necessary experience to best represent Ward 4 residents. As a councilman, he said he chaired the public safety committee and was involved in redevelopment. He also said he is well-acquainted with Mayor Steve Tumlin, with whom he attended grade school.
“I feel like I can step in from day one and not miss a beat, continuing to help Marietta be a better community,” Morris said.
“I have the experience in working with the budget, (Marietta Board of Lights and Water) and handling their projects,” he said. “I was involved in the selling of FiberNet when I was on the council. I was also involved in the Conference Center and redeveloping that contract and bringing the Hilton into that.”
Morris said of the biggest difference between Patti and himself is his unwavering support of WellStar Health System, which he believes is unmatched in terms of its economic impact on the city.
“They’re the biggest employer in the city of Marietta,” he said. “I am a strong supporter of WellStar developing their hospital, delivering high quality physicians and health care services for our community.”
In 2003, Morris was on the council when it formed the tax-exempt organization known as Marietta Redevelopment Corporation. In 2007, the MRC embarked on ambitious plans to redevelop 98 acres of the Hedges-Gramling neighborhood, which have stalled since the recession hit, leading some to question the existence of the organization.
Morris said he is uncertain about whether he would continue spending money on the MRC and its executive director.
“Personally, with the way the economy is right now, it’s hard to see the program expenses of it being held up on right now,” he said. “I think that we have to tighten our belt and look at ways to save money for the future.”
The Marietta Museum of History in Marietta Square has also had to fend off critics who question the wisdom of the city to continually invest funds into the museum, which has struggled financially. But Morris is a strong museum supporter.
“I think it’s an important part of our city,” he said. “I think that we need to look at it and get the downtown development authority involved in it also to help out, because they do bring people to the Square.”
Overall, Morris said he is simply the better candidate to tackle the city’s challenges, which he said include recruiting new businesses, redevelopment, ensuring residents a good quality of life with an affordable budget, and continuing to enhance downtown Marietta.