It was an intimate atmosphere at last Tuesday night’s Post Two Commissioner meet and greet, where all attendees had a chance to meet and interact with the candidates.All four contenders were in attendance: Joe Waldrop, Travis Crouch, Mitchell Morgan, and Leon Watkins. Each of them echoed their core platforms from the debate hosted by the Tea Party of Gilmer County. Morgan was the first to introduce himself to the crowd. He mentioned the efficiency of taking the time to do a sound budget, but he also touched on the subject of an Economic Development Director being housed within the Economic Development Authority. He believed the position should be within the Authority, since it was created by the County, and there was sufficient funding to support the position. He also stressed the need to have more representation within the Authority, such as the Board of Education and Water Authority.
In regards to an economic development plan, Travis Crouch talked about the need to pool representation from several departments (Water Authority, Economic Development Authority, Downtown Development Authority, etc.) to set up an Economic Development Council for the hiring of an Economic Development Director. This Economic Council would also be the primary body the Director would answer to. Crouch believed the Director seat would be best suited in the Chamber, because the office is already there, it would save the County tens of thousands of dollars, and there would be the necessary support staff. The issue of an Economic Development Director was discussed at the debate, but Crouch threw out an extra tidbit by saying he would prefer to have a person in Gilmer who has large networks, but he was also diplomatic by settling for someone outside of the county who fits the same criteria.
The candidates had different ways of solving problems, but the overall theme of the meeting was attracting business to Gilmer. Watkins believed the future of Gilmer County is in a water system stretching from Fannin County to the end of Pickens County. But before his time limit ran out, Watkins also mentioned the need for the County to have an industrial park that would attract more investment in the community. When Waldrop was asked what he would do the moment he got in office, he replied by saying he would get an assessment of the County’s coffers, in order to get a better fiscal sense of Gilmer’s future. Waldrop was one to drive home the need for accountability and sound budgeting. This was a forum where the candidates were challenged and asked to elaborate on their positions, and those who had any lingering questions from watching the debate got some clearer answers from the candidates. Watch the meeting below.