Getting to Know Commission Chair Candidates

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By watching the Commission Chair meet and greet, hosted by the Republican Party of Gilmer County, one got the sense of an at-home feel, where all attendees had a chance to get to know each candidate on a more approachable level. The one trait that every candidate wanted to drive home was their business credentials in properly managing Gilmer County. J.C. Sanford

Incumbent J.C. Sanford was the first to introduce himself, pressing the importance of looking forward when it comes to Gilmer’s future. When asked what his number one agenda in office would be, he talked about the importance of jobs being brought to Gilmer, along with the necessity in having residents stay and work within the County. And even though he championed himself an

“ultra conservative,”

he wanted to let the audience know that he is willing to make investments where it counts, in order to get a good return from such things as county projects and job creation.

Danny Hall

Danny Hall started his introduction by making a case for less government and not having the County running business affairs. He believed Gilmer has some of the

“greatest employees in this county that I’ve ever seen anywhere,”

highlighting their role in bringing the budget down and keeping operations running. He also talked about organization and communication as playing a vital role in governance affairs. When asked about some top investments he would make, he talked about the need to leave the golf course in private hands, while having that person effectively promote and manage the course. He also pegged Gilmer schools as a vital part of the community that requires sound investment.

Mark Simmons

Mark Simmons introduced himself next, talking about a

“new vision in the politics,”

and the need of a youth and fresh perspective to Gilmer management. He also talked about starting the budget with a

“zero base”

to chart a new course, and he believed in meeting department heads on a monthly basis instead of a yearly basis. When he was asked if there was money to hire a full-time Economic Development Director, he said the money was there, but Ellijay and East Ellijay should also pay for the Economic Development idea, since the attraction of business would benefit the entire area.

Charlie Paris

Charlie Paris was last on the roster, believing that Gilmer County

“cannot continue on the path that we’re on right now.”

He did not want to catch any surprises in yearly audits, and he wanted better management when it comes to the debt and SPLOST funds. He is in full support of an Economic Development Director, and he mentioned the idea of business incubators, the notion of mentoring small businesses help survive thrive and grow. An IT question came up in regards to upgrades for the County. Gilmer has not upgraded their IT systems for years due to the economic circumstances. Paris responded by saying it would cost the County hundreds of thousands of dollars to implement the necessary upgrades, but the project was something that did not need to take place all at once.

We’ll see who made the most effective case to the crowd when voting takes place on May 20. Watch the full video below.

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