SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - After Republican National Convention leaders toured Savannah on Monday, Mayor Van Johnson explained the visit was preliminary in nature. He says it is something he plans to discuss further with Governor Brian Kemp.
The Republican National Convention is known to bring in high profile names, large crowds and a big economic boost, but Mayor Johnson says if it comes to Savannah he’s more worried about what else comes with it.
“I am and remain strongly concerned about the impact that a convention of this magnitude would have on our health, safety and welfare of our city, our citizens and of course our city budget,” explained Mayor Johnson during a press conference Tuesday morning.
Mayor Johnson says there are still several questions he needs answered. He says that’s something he told Governor Kemp Monday when he and others visited the area. The mayor says the first question is in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic and how it affects the convention, another issue is how to fund the safety elements needed for the large scale event. The mayor admits if the RNC comes to Savannah it would be a major economic boost, especially when we could use one, but says there’s more to consider than just the payout.
“I’m not willing to do anything that puts this community at risk no matter how much money we make from it,” said Johnson. “I think if we do that, we put our community at longer term risk and I just don’t think in that case it’s worth it. But if the safety concerns are addressed and if the funding concerns are addressed, I’m all ears.”
Mayor Van Johnson says he does not have a final say in the decision as the convention center is owned by the State of Georgia, but is hopeful to be a part of the conversations moving forward.