My name is Sharla Davis and I am campaigning for position of Tax Commissioner for Gilmer County.
I have lived in Georgia for 45 of my 48 years. Five of those years have been here in Gilmer County. My husband and I consider our move here to be one of the best decisions we’ve made….besides marrying each other, of course. (haha) The area is beautiful and the people are exactly what we were looking for when we moved here…..friendly, giving, courteous, welcoming, just all-around wonderful people and neighbors. We’ve made some great friends and look forward to many more years here and more friendships made.
I have 30 years experience of Accounting, Management and Customer Service in the Automotive Industry working for 4 of the top 10 Automotive Groups in the Nation. Receiving, processing, balancing and reporting millions of dollars. I also have experience working in the Tax Commissioner’s office when I was employed, here in Gilmer County, as the accountant for your current Tax Commissioner. I am confident that my experience will facilitate a smooth transition into the Public Service position as your next Tax Commissioner.
Please vote Sharla Davis for Gilmer County Tax Commissioner!!
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer County’s 2019 Election Results are rolling in tonight, November 5, 2019, as citizens elect a replacement Post 1 Commissioner for the vacancy left by Dallas Miller’s Resignation last month as well as a new Ellijay City Council.
This article will continued to be updated throughout the night until final results come in.
With 13 of the 13 voting precincts in Gilmer County reported and early votes counted, the results follow:
Post 1 Commissioner 2019 Election Results:
Jason Biggs: 227 votes
Al Cash: 249 votes
Hubert Parker: 1360 votes
Ed Stover: 206 votes
Jerry Tuso: 91 votes
Having received 63.70%, Probate Judge Scott Chastain has stated there will not be a runoff.
Hubert Parker offered a comment on the victory saying, “I’m elated at the confidence the voters expressed in me. I’ll do my best to serve all the citizens of Gilmer County.”
When asked if he was happy to not be going to a runoff. Parker said he was obviously happy to have it done now and to the county can move on with their business.
Ellijay City Council: 2019 Election Results
Charles Barclay: 71 votes
Jerry Baxter: 64 votes
Tom Crawford: 82 votes
Jerry Davis: 54 votes
Brent Defoor: 78 votes
Al Fuller (incumbent) : 110 votes
Katie Lancey (incumbent) : 81 votes
Sandy Ott: 126 votes
Kevin Pritchett: 109 votes
Brad Simmons: 74 votes
“It appeared to be a time when my background and experience would be a help to the county,” said Post 1 Commissioner Candidate Hubert Parker when asked why he decided to run in this year’s election.
Hubert Parker has lived in Gilmer County for 15 years since he last moved here, however, he also grew up in the county before moving away. “You keep coming back,” he said as he has continued to return to the county and family who have lived here. He has been married for 55 years and has two kids, a son and a daughter.
Parker has served as a certified public accountant for three years, 33 years in University of Georgia’s Business and Financial Administration,
Such a business background focused on banking relationships and treasury functions throughout his accounting experiences as Parker agree it is not his first time in budget processes and balancing finances. In fact, its not even the first time Parker has served in parts of Gilmer’s government. He has served on the Board of Tax Assessors and Building Authority before.
Parker said he mainly wanted to focus on roads and jobs, growing small business in the county and finding the right kind of businesses saying, “The quality of life is very important here, and we have to keep that in mind in the kind of businesses we recruit.”
Parker pointed to a lack of jobs for young people in the county as an example of this need. He said creating opportunities for people is only one step. Projects like the CORE (Collaboration On River’s Edge) Facility and its mentor programs is another step.
As we continue growing and recruiting businesses, Parker said we need to recognize and appreciate the tourism as well. Looking even further out, other projects and goals for Parker include a desire to continue expanding the water system and reduce the impact of the county’s debt.
In his part to accomplish these goals, Parker said, “I want to continually seek to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of county government.”
While realizing a Post Commissioner is not as involved in the day-to-day operations, Parker said he feels that being on the board, helping to identify these opportunities and guide the board while working with the other commissioners.
When asked what he sees as some of the challenges ahead if elected, Parker noted that working towards improving roads and continuing along the budget process could present challenges as he steps into the position mid-process. But he reasserted that continuing the intergovernmental relationships was another point he wanted to focus on with their projects.
Alternatively, Parker said he has never run for public office, but the aspect has energized him as he continues to get involved and speak to people in the county. He is continuing to learn “the whole picture of the county.”
Development of the county is important to Hubert Parker as he says he wants to keep the character of the county and not change the quality of life.
Looking specifically at recent issues the county has faced, Parker said he wants a full study on Carters Lake saying, “Let’s look at the total picture, lay everything on the table before we make a decision, and then from that, based on good information, make our decision.”
Studying financial feasibility and benefits versus costs, Parker said he wants to know what’s being offered while considering the money.
Similarly, when considering the pool, Parker said, “We need a pool, the young people need a pool, the teams need a pool. This is important. The problem as I understand it, I’ll find out more if I am elected, is where to put it.” In making these decisions, people want it to be convenient, but the county has to consider the project as a whole and locations based on financial practicality and location viability.
Some of these issues continue to focus on the natural resources the county has. In addition to the people, Parker said the rivers, the lake, the mountains, and the agricultural heart of the county are things the county holds dear. Parker said these are not resources to be exploited and taken advantage of, but they must be used and managed responsibly.
Taking up a leadership position is nothing new to Parker, even if an elected position is. Debating and working towards solutions as part of the board is a labor of mutual respect. He said he feels strong stepping into the position, even coming amid the tail end of the county’s budget process.
“I view myself as a workhorse, not a showhorse,” Parker said as he explained an uneasiness with the public eye and media attention of his campaign. Working towards the county’s future and the goals set is what Parker says he wants to strive for.
Priorities. Post 1 Commissioner Candidate Jason Biggs says he realizes that certain things need prioritization over others. Balancing those priorities and being successful in the position requires details and research, two points that he says are a large part of his life and skills.
Though visiting family and the county for 20 years, Jason Biggs has lived in Gilmer County with his wife for the last five-and-a-half years. With two sons and one daughter, he says his family has been a family of farmers and ranchers. Today, he proudly states his grandson is a native of Gilmer County.
Currently working as a Regional Security Manager, Biggs oversees properties to maintain security and safety on a daily basis. Also retired law enforcement, he is no stranger to analysis, research, risk, and budgeting as he says he operates daily on a number of properties within his given budget. He notes that as he continues studying the changing landscape of his business to continue new initiatives that he must research and implement in his business.
However, he also states he is no stranger to staying busy and working hard in his life. When he was a full-time police officer, he also worked full-time at a store-front business for screen-printing and embroidery for over three years.
Living in Gilmer County now, it has been astonishing, Biggs said, at how easily and readily he has been accepted into the county. It is the community that has welcomed him and his family and made this place a home.
Now, as the position of Post 1 Commissioner has opened and his current job schedule has become more flexible, Biggs has become concerned with what he sees in the county that is his home. He said, “The thing that concerns me the most is that we have a debt in excess of $4,000,000 that we have to service annually for a courthouse. That was supposed to paid by sales tax… It’s very hard for me to look 20 years into the future and say, ‘Sales Tax will be able to pay for this.’ At some point, you have to realize that there is a risk of that debt coming back on the taxpayer. And I am afraid that that might happen again if we’re not careful.”
Biggs said he wants to support the recreational sides of the county, but he also knows that to enjoy these projects, people have to be able to get to the pool. he said specifically that he is for constructing a new pool, but he wants to dig deeper to find “real costs” in the project including maintenance and operations for the larger size and a second pool.
Similarly, he addressed concern over Carters Lake as the county moves into a reactionary stance to this need. Touching on the possibilities at the lake, he questioned how the county would respond if they did create a new department. What would the staff costs including benefits and salary? What would the legal fees be for contracts be? What would operations include?
Biggs said, “As a taxpayer, I want to know, it is going to cost ‘X’ amount of dollars, to the penny…If I am elected to this position, that is something I want to start doing.”
Also looking at the roads in the county, continuing the improvements and continuing to “grow intelligently” requires the priority on this infrastructure to continue its prioritization. Biggs said the infrastructure has to be top priority.
He went on to say, “Tax payer dollars should be treated as sacred. You are getting money from the sweat off of people’s backs. I think there is a lot to be said for those people paying their taxes. I think politicians need to be very, very careful how that is spent.”
As he went through these situations, he noted that he has concerns over these issues, but he felt running for the position was his way to do something. Though he is currently a concerned citizen, he didn’t want to be someone who complained about an issue but didn’t do anything about it. Finding issues is the first step, researching solutions is another.
Sometimes these issues require strange answers. Biggs recalled how he came in for tag renewal one day to find the tag office closed at lunch. He spoke about citizens who work daily and take their lunch hour to try and comply with something the government said they have to do. Whether its opening over different hours or opening Saturdays instead of another day, the compromise between the county and citizens is the key to operating the county in favor of the citizens who fund and own it.
Communication, honesty, and transparency, these three keys to any relationship are what Candidate Jason Biggs says he can bring to the Post 1 Commissioner position. When the open conversation stops, that is when the problems begins. It’s the point of involving the people of the county to include new ideas from every walk of life. This allows the board to prioritize and maximize their spending.
However, learning more about the county is more than just listening to citizens in the board room. He wants to go further in learning the ins and outs of the county. He pointed to opportunities such as possible ride-alongs with Sheriff’s Deputies to becoming more involved with Team Cartecay, the mountain biking team that his son rides with.
“Being able to look back and say, ‘Hey, I made a positive impact on something that I was involved with would be the reward, Biggs said as he spoke about the county that has welcomed him. Fostering the growth and cooperation continues through partnerships. He pointed to the work the Gilmer Chamber and their work with local business. Small business in the county is a key part of the county. Being pro-business also helps to alleviate some of the tax burden to the citizens.
Just like speaking with citizens, local business is a relationship to work alongside in pursuit of an agreed upon goal. But maintaining Gilmer’s identity, especially in areas like agricultural success, has to be protected in the growth that continues. Looking at the county as a whole has to be part of the commissioners’ jobs as they move forward with the different entities within the county, including the cities and the Chamber.
He noted the recent budget sessions the county has gone through. Watching the videos on those sessions gave some insight into the county’s needs and what each department wants. It returns to the same process as the Sheriff asks for support in their retirement plans or Public Safety in their capital requests. He said, “When you start looking at the safety and security of taxpayers, that should be paramount.” But he fell back to the details of these requests and looking at the “to the penny” costs and how they fit into the limited funds of the county.
Hearing the opinions of the people, and balancing the costs of the county, Jason Biggs said this is the job he wants to take on. Running for Post 1 Commissioner is his way to step up and face the concerns he has seen. But, he said, “If you’re looking for somebody to go along to get along, I’m not the guy. I am going to do what I feel is the best for the taxpayer’s dollars and I am going to be the voice of the people of this county because I don’t think everyone has an equal voice, and I feel like they should.”
Stability and unification, these are tenets that Al Cash said he wants to see moving forward in Gilmer County. Though he did not plan to run in the Post 1 Commissioner Race, Cash says he was approached by others who urged him to run due to his “life experiences and the integrity I have based my entire life on.”
Like many of the candidates, Cash said one of the concerns he sees and hears from citizens is the unstoppable growth the county has seen over recent years. Cash said that the growth is there, it is the job of the Board of Commissioners to control that growth and mold the county into what the citizens want for their future.
President of the Firefighters Auxiliary and volunteer for the EMA staff, Cash is also the webmaster for the Fire Department. Under the Auxiliary, he seeks additionally funding outside of the county budget for the department, manages many of the events like Kids Christmas. They seek fundraising opportunities for additional training and equipment as well.
Cash has also worked 30 years for State Farm where he worked as an adjuster and in third party litigation for 15 years and IT work for 15 years. He has lived in Gilmer County with his wife since 2012. He has one son and four daughters.
Originally having bought a house here in 2006, his family planned to retire here. He says it was definitely the people that drew him here, saying “I hear this all the time, and it’s absolutely true. It’s the people. The people are so incredibly nice… It was strange. It’s a whole different culture, and we fell in love with it.”
Standing up to run for the position of Post 1 Commissioner, Cash said it is the intangibles that set him apart for the position. From his life experiences to knowledge and organization, these are part of the skill set that he brings to a county with the unique setting and trials that Gilmer County faces.
“I see a lot of flux,” says Cash as he explained that he sees some citizens wanting to revert to the small town that has been here in the past and some wanting to embrace and grow into a larger town or city. Calling himself a traditionalist, Cash has seen both large cities and tiny towns. Balancing the growth and tradition is key in Gilmer as it moves forward. But Cash says the balance cannot be a general blanket answer. It’s a department level issue as he says each area requires its own answers and its own type of that balance.
“That’s just a lot of math and analysis, trying to figure out what is the best way to spend the money that are available. How to balance that between other departments and what’s happening in the community, it always has to be what’s best for the community as a whole,” says Cash.
With two major issues in the recent months of the county, many citizens are looking for views on the pool and Carter’s Lake.
Cash asserted that he understood that a new pool is necessary and desired by a large portion of the county. But he wants to learn more about the other questions as he asked what is the real cost? He said he wants to learn more about the details, including operations, maintenance, costs, and the viability for the community. He said, “I’m a research king. I need all the facts.”
Some of those details include the deep end addition with diving boards. Cash said he has concerns for the insurance and liability side of it as well as the additional costs.
Again with the Carter’s Lake issue as Cash said he feels many of the citizens are still unaware of the details more than just the three options available.
Details on these subjects, however, are not just for himself as Cash says the county needs stability and unification moving forward. He points out that it doesn’t mean everyone agreeing on everything, but about bringing the government and citizens closer together with more information and communication. Cash said he has even considered things like starting a blog if he becomes Post 1 Commissioner. The core of the idea is increasing connection and interaction.
On top of improving the relationship with citizens, Cash also wants to see the relations continue improving within the county. Noting the comprehensive plan as the first step in this. Cash said these entities in the county, as a whole, benefit from each other in a “scratch each other’s back” situation. Cash noted that though the cities are their own entities, the Board of Education is its own entity, and the Board of Commissioners is its own entity, it is still all inside of Gilmer County. He said, “I would like to establish as much of a working relationship with them as we can… I’d like to be part of that getting better.”
Cash also noted new ventures such as CORE joining these entities throughout the county through projects like their mentor program. The Joint Development Authority is another branch of this connection.
Continuing along the campaign trail, Cash urges citizens to get out and vote in the election. As he looks to the Post 1 Commissioner position, Cash said he is excited to be a part of the county’s forward momentum. “I would love to get in there and be a part of where we are now and moving forward. I’ve always been that way. I’ve loved getting in on the ground floor… I love building it, and making it happen. Making positive things happen.”
Committing to the position is all about “Service above Self” according to candidate Al Cash. Committing to the county in this position is, as he says, all about the Facts, Finances, and Future.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – With the final day past, the Gilmer County Probate Office has announced the five candidates who have officially qualified for the November election for Post 1 Commissioner.
Qualifying ran from Monday through noon Wednesday this week and even came with surprises for those who had previously announced their campaign but didn’t qualify by signing up with elections.
At this time, the elections office, a part of Gilmer County’s Probate Court, has confirmed these candidates: Jason Biggs, Al Cash, Hubert Parker, Ed Stover, and Jerry Tuso.
Stay with FYN as we reach out to the candidates for interviews to introduce them within their campaigns.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Probate Office of Gilmer County is adding one more item to November’s ballot in the form of a Post 1 Commissioner Election. This Special Election comes after the recent resignation of Dallas Miller.
The new election process will be abbreviated from the normal process as qualifying will go for three days next week, Monday, September 23, 2019, until noon on Wednesday, September 25, 2019. After that, the election will be held on November 5, 2019. Despite the quick turn around, this means that the two remaining commissioners will be going the the county’s budget process without a third.
The full release from Probate Judge and Election Superintendent Scott Chastain follows:
CALL FOR SPECIAL ELECTIONTo be published in a newspaper of appropriate circulation- O.C.G.A. §21-2-2(3)Notice is hereby given that, in accordance with O.C.G.A. § 21-2-540, a special election shall be held in Gilmer County to fill the vacancy in the office of County Commissioner Post 1, caused by resignation of the Honorable Dallas Miller. The special election will be held on November 5, 2019.Qualifying for the special election shall be held at the office of the Probate Judge of Gilmer County, beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, September 23, 2019 and ending at 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 25, 2019. The qualifying fee shall be $213.76.All persons who are not registered to vote and who desire to register to vote in the special election may register to vote through the close of business on Tuesday, October 7, 2019 Early voting will begin on Tuesday October 15, 2019 and end on November 1, 2019. Polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. on Election Day.Should a runoff election be required, such runoff will be held onTuesday, December 3, 2019This 13th Day of September, 2019. Scott C. ChastainElection Superintendent
2018 Georgia Election Run-Off Results
Tonight marks the run-offs for election races in Georgia, these results are unofficial until approved by the Secretary of State.
Secretary of State
Brad Raffensperger (R) – 756,016 votes 51.97%
John Barrow (D) – 698,770 votes 48.03%
Public Service Commission, District 3
Chuck Eaton (R) – 749,805 votes 51.83%
Lindy Miller (D) – 696,957 votes 48.17%
Check for local results by county here:
Secretary of State
Brad Raffensperger (R) – 4,337 votes 83.13%
John Barrow (D) – 880 votes 16.87%
Public Service Commission, District 3
Chuck Eaton (R) – 4,250 votes 81.79%
Lindy Miller (D) – 946 votes 18.21%
Secretary of State
Brad Raffensperger (R) – 4,408 votes 84.01%
John Barrow (D) – 839 votes 15.99%
Public Service Commission, District 3
Chuck Eaton (R) – 4,325 votes 82.70%
Lindy Miller (D) – 905 17.30%
Secretary of State
Brad Raffensperger (R) – 3,522 votes 81.89%
John Barrow (D) – 779 votes 18.11%
Public Service Commission, District 3
Chuck Eaton (R) – 3,454 votes 80.57%
Lindy Miller (D) – 833 votes 19.43%
Secretary of State
Brad Raffensperger (R) – 3,985 votes 85.83%
John Barrow (D) – 658 votes 14.17%
Public Service Commission, District 3
Chuck Eaton (R) – 3,939 votes 85.02%
Lindy Miller (D) – 694 votes 14.98%
Secretary of State
Brad Raffensperger (R) – 4,063 votes 82.78%
John Barrow (D) – 845 votes 17.22%
Public Service Commission, District 3
Chuck Eaton (R) – 3,960 votes 80.82%
Lindy Miller (D) – 940 votes 19.18%
Secretary of State
Brad Raffensperger (R) – 4,246 votes 80.92%
John Barrow (D) – 1,001 votes 19.08%
Public Service Commission, District 3
Chuck Eaton (R) – 4,108 votes 78.65%
Lindy Miller (D) – 1,115 votes 21.35%
Secretary of State
Brad Raffensperger (R) – 2,161 votes 79.95%
John Barrow (D) – 542 votes 20.05%
Public Service Commission, District 3
Chuck Eaton (R) – 2,105 votes 78.22%
Lindy Miller (D) – 586 votes 21.78%
Secretary of State
Brad Raffensperger (R) – 2,699 votes 88.99%
John Barrow (D) – 334 votes 11.01%
Public Service Commission, District 3
Chuck Eaton (R) – 2,691 votes 88.84%
Lindy Miller (D) – 338 votes 11.16%
Secretary of State
Brad Raffensperger (R) – 3,378 votes 78.47%
John Barrow (D) – 927 votes 21.53%
Public Service Commission, District 3
Chuck Eaton (R) – 3,337 votes 77.89%
Lindy Miller (D) – 947 votes 22.11%
*These election results are unofficial until being certified by the Secretary of State’s office.
2018 Gilmer County Primary Election Results
Gilmer County Post 2 Commissioner
Karleen Ferguson (R) – Totals – 1,677 votes at 61.27%
Woody Janssen (R) – Totals – 359 votes at 13.12%
Jerry Tuso (R) – Totals – 701 votes at 25.61%
Danny Hall officially withdrew from the election race. An official comment from the elections representatives in Gilmer stated that while they did post notices as to his withdrawal at polling sites, his name did appear on the ballot. As such, Hall received votes during the election. However, the representatives did confirm that they had spoken with officials at the state level and were instructed not to count his votes as part of the process. This count stands with the three candidates at their current percentage of the votes counted. FYN has requested the total votes cast for Hall, but have not received them at this time.
Gilmer County Commission Chairman
Charlie Paris (R) – Totals – 2995 votes at 100.0%
Gilmer County Board of Education Post 4 Seat
Michael Bramlett – 3,424 votes at 99.22%
27 Write-in votes
Gilmer County Board of Education Post 5 Seat
Ronald Watkins – 3,429 votes at 99.22%
27 Write-in Votes
Georgia House of Representative District 7
David Ralston (R) – 2,757 votes at 72.23%
Margaret Williamson (R) – Totals – 1,060 votes at 27.77%
Rick Day (D) – Totals – 458 votes at 100.0%
2018 Georgia Primary Election Results
Casey Cagle (R) – 1,471 votes at 38.46%
Hunter Hill (R) – 708 votes at 18.51%
Brian Kemp (R) – 1,065 votes at 27.84%
Clay Tippins (R) – 383 votes at 10.01%
Michael Williams (R) – 198 votes at 5.18%
Stacey Abrams (D) – 296 votes at 53.05%
Stacey Evans (D) – 262 votes at 46.95%
LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR CANDIDATES:
Geoff Duncan (R) – 838 votes at 24.72%
Rick Jeffares (R) – 940 votes at 27.73%
David Shafer (R) – 1,612 votes at 47.55%
Sarah Riggs Amico (D) – 402 votes at 76.57%
Triana Arnold James (D) – 123 votes at 23.43%
SECRETARY OF STATE CANDIDATES:
David Belle Isle (R) – 965 votes at 28.98%
Buzz Brockway (R) – 465 votes at 13.96%
Josh McKoon (R) – 574 votes at 17.24%
Brad Raffensperger (R) – 1,326 votes at 39.82%
John Barrow (D) – 293 votes at 56.13%
Dee Dawkins-Haigler (D) – 159 votes at 30.46%
R.J. Hadley (D) – 70 votes at 13.41%
INSURANCE COMMISSIONER CANDIDATES:
Jim Beck (R) – 2,062 votes at 61.59%
Jay Florence (R) – 699 votes at 20.88%
Tracy Jordan (R) – 587 votes at 17.53%
PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSIONER CANDIDATES:
District 3 –
Chuck Eaton (R) – 2951 votes at 100.0%
Lindy Miller (D) – 342 votes at 68.13%
John Noel (D) – 119 votes at 23.71%
Johnny White (D) – 41 votes at 8.17%
District 5 –
John Hitchins III (R) – 1,557 votes at 47.54%
Tricia Pridemore (R) – 1,718 votes at 52.46%
Dawn Randolph (D) – 347 votes at 71.40%
Doug Stoner (D) – 139 votes at 28.60%
ELLIJAY, Ga. – FetchYourNews (FYN) has confirmed with the Gilmer County Probate Court that Danny Hall has removed his name from the Post 2 Commissioner ballot.
Tammy Watkins from the Gilmer County Probate Court confirmed with FYN that the official paperwork has been filed to remove him from the race. However, the name will still appear on the ballots in the election. According to Watkins, there will be notes in the election booths about his retirement from the race.
It is the current understanding that the official reason for Hall backing out of the race is due to work scheduling conflicts that he said would detriment his service to the county. Hall stated that the conflicts would not allow him to make a full commitment to the position.
With only the official statement available, stay with FYN as we seek more details from Hall in the coming days. Hall’s withdrawal from the election leaves three other candidates in the race: Karleen Ferguson, Jerry Tuso, and Woody Janssen.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Creator of Ellijay’s outdoor social club, Stay Active Ellijay, Karleen Ferguson qualified in March to run for the position of Post 2 Commissioner in Gilmer County.
Originally attending the University of Georgia for a degree in early childhood education and graduating from Kean University in New Jersey with the degree, Ferguson actually spent much of her time with her family’s Catering and Events business in Atlanta. While she admits it was not her dream, she said she learned a lot from planning the events alongside her family.
First moving to Ellijay in 2000, she admitted that her and Robert Ferguson, her husband, used to be one of those people who would come to their home in Ellijay but avoid the crowds. Karleen Ferguson returned to Atlanta in 2005 to take care of her family while maintaining a second home in Ellijay. Growing more in the community and becoming more socially active, she said she began to notice more of the “depressed conditions” she found in areas of the community.
In 2010, Ferguson said, she and her husband Robert sold their main home to live in Ellijay full-time. After helping create the concert series Ellijay Under the Stars, she met Paige Green at one of the events. Building on her achievements and events planning, she began working for the Gilmer Chamber as the Tourism and Special Events coordinator.
Along with her husband, Robert, Karleen Ferguson has raised four children, three boys and one girl, while performing duties as a health coach for over 18 years spanning before and after her time with the Chamber. Even after leaving the Chamber to continue her health coach work, she volunteered in the Chamber’s Ambassador program where she served five years. During that time, she grew out of health coaching to create Stay Active Ellijay (SAE) in order to fill what she calls a gap between encouraging people to experience the region and actual programs to facilitate the experience.
Described as an “award-winning outdoor social club” by Ferguson, SAE currently serves over 200 members through activities like hiking, kayaking, cycling, horseback riding, and more.
Ferguson said she draws from all of this in her efforts toward the commissioner’s seat. She drew experience in growth and tourism from her time at the Chamber and financial and logistical experience from planning events with her family. She drew experience in the county’s departments when she helped alongside the Parks and Recreation with Gold Kist and merchant supporters to grow a soccer program in Gilmer. She noted even running Stay Active Ellijay provides her a basis for the community saying, “I feel like I am the best voice and I understand the heartbeat of the community the best.”
If she is elected to the position, Ferguson said, she is a quick learner because “I love to get in and get my hands dirty … I love to fix things.”
Ferguson tells FYN she had not even considered running, but having rolled off of her services in the Chamber volunteer and Ambassador work, she began to look for her next project and service. It was not until she had heard from current Post 2 Commissioner Travis Crouch that he would not be running again that she thought of running herself.
Furthering the conversation, Ferguson said she sat down with Couch to discuss the position and the possibility of running. Then she went on to sit down individually with both Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris and Post 1 Commissioner Dallas Miller. After meeting with all three and feeling confident that she could hold the position, she prayed over the move and, feeling it was God’s direction for her, qualified for election.
Maintaining volunteer work and her business with SAE, Ferguson told FYN she will have no problem juggling her responsibilities as she is used to having a lot on her plate in her life. She went on to say, “I don’t commit to anything unless I can give fully of myself.”
Her main goals in the Post 2 Commissioner revolve around protecting the green-space and continuing along the work that she has seen in the last four years. With building, construction, and real estate on the rise, Ferguson said she wants to be a part of the growth, but maintain a view of the thought that Kent Sanford brought up in an earlier meeting saying, “We need to grow in a qualitative way rather than quantitative.”
Mentioning a few ideas to better utilize the county’s resources, Ferguson said she was excited to have the repairs for the walking path and tennis courts while she wants to see better utilization of natural resources like the rivers.
Summing up her feelings on the position in a final thought, she stated, “Trust me to make what I feel is the best decisions for the entire community … I really want to just be a voice for my entire Gilmer County family.”
Karleen Ferguson is one of four candidates running for the Post 2 Commissioner position in Gilmer County. Check out FYN’s other candidate interviews as they become available for Woody Janssen, Jerry Tuso, and Danny Hall.
Having lived in Gilmer County for nearly 40 years I consider it home. My husband John and I raised our 4 children here and now enjoy our reward – having 11 of our 15 grandchildren who live in the county.
I am a naturalized citizen who has embraced everything America – the Constitution, our natural God-given Rights, the Rule of Law, and our Flag.
I have had a full life; I studied Engineering, worked as a Health Care professional, studied Marketing & Business Administration, took time off to raise our children, and owned my own business.
We are retired now giving us time to volunteer in our community, do some traveling, and do our best to help safeguard the future of our State and Country.
First Baptist Church Ellijay has been our church home for 37 years. I am a member of the Gilmer Chamber of Commerce, Optimist Club, Gilmer County Republicans, Gilmer County Republican Women, and Georgia Federation of Republican Women.
I’m also a Master Gardener Volunteer putting in many hours at the Ellijay Farmers Market, because how best to use the freedom than to make things beautiful.
My Pro Life position is not one of political expedience like many politicians.
I helped found a crisis pregnancy center in Ellijay which has served young women for over 25 years, was on the board, supported it financially, and was a counselor. On Sanctity of Life Sunday I was on the sidewalk praying and waving signs.
It’s simple for me; you can’t have liberty without life.
My first involvement in politics goes back to 1994 as a volunteer in a congressional race and since that time I have worked on several campaigns. Most recent was as county campaign manager for Donald Trump.
As a regular visitor to the Georgia Capitol I keep informed on current legislation especially those that affect the taxpayers of our State House District 7.
It has been distressing to see bills passed that fail to meet our needs but only help big business or special interest groups, bills that increase our taxes, and bills that burden us with unfunded mandates, regulations, and growing number of fees that hurt our economy.
In retirement I have the luxury of being involved but the average North Georgian is busy with both spouses working, raising a family, taking care of elderly parents, or just trying to make time to spend time with their kids. – All with less money in their pocket.
We should be able to trust that our Representative is watching out for us, and that is something that we are currently lacking. I will be your watchman.
Under our current leadership, over the last 10 years, our annual state budget has grown from $15B to $26B.
In 2015 the largest tax increase in the history of Georgia was passed under HB 170. That’s $1 billion more dollars that is taken out of the private sector every year.
52% of our 2017-18 budget goes to Education – that’s $13B and yet we rank #34 in the nation in education. College tuition has gone up over 75% while state contributions have decreased.
Tuition for Technical Colleges has gone up 100%. Teacher pension plan (TRS) is severely in jeopardy with over $2B in unfunded liabilities and now a change in the pension plan is discouraging prospective teachers from entering into education – the result is less teachers and larger classroom size. How is this good for teachers and the kids??
Leadership tells us that Georgia is the #1 place to do business but professional assessments give Georgia a ranking of #17 in Economic Performance and #19 in Economic Outlook.
Key factors contributing to this ranking; a State Income Tax that we should abolish, Property Tax Burden, and the recent legislative Tax changes – excise tax hike on fuel, and increased burden on counties that did not vote for T-SPLOST.
In the 7th District almost 35% of our residents live at or below the poverty level, our annual household income is around $40,000, and our per capita salary in $11,000. All well below state and national averages.
High property taxes, increasing school taxes, fees, penalties, regulations, fuel taxes, and the increase in sales tax on used cars that was just passed – all reduce spendable income.
We need new leadership who isn’t out of touch with the everyday working men and women of Georgia, and really, who aren’t out of touch with reality.
It seems that big government only sees us as a way to get more money so they can give handouts to their buddies. We pay more taxes for gas while politicians wan tto exempt Delta from paying sales tax on jet fuel! Who do you think needs the tax break?
I’ve had enough of the good old boy system. We are already taxed and regulated more than enough.
We live in one of the most beautiful parts of the US. Outdoor recreation attracts mountain bikers, hikers, boaters, fishing enthusiasts, and more. Other attractions include all the new locally owned wineries in their beautiful settings in all three counties in the District, cabin rentals, and most recentlyfabulous wedding venues.
Local Chambers of Commerce work hard to bring in businesses with higher paying jobs and to attract tourists, as this industry is now the biggest contributor to our economy.
We can all work together to make our counties attractive to tourists, business, and families – without compromising our Conservative North GA values.
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, limited government principles and a culture of hard work and what made the American economy great. Let’s just go back to that instead of subsidies and big government.
Significant tax cuts, getting rid of penalties imposed by recent legislation, lowering the corporate income tax rate, and reducing the cost that each wage earner pays for benefits received by illegal immigrants, an annual cost to the state of $2.4B for education, health care, justice and law enforcement, public assistance, and government services.
I also support a restructuring of the welfare system. Stronger requirements have worked in other States, why not here in Georgia.
I will work with the many like-minded members of the House and Senate to make changes that reflect our principles of Conservatism.
For years we have been promised “Conservative leadership”, “protection for our North Georgia values”, “Constitutional freedoms”, “protection for our Religious Freedom”, “support for our public schools and teachers”, “gun rights”, “good paying jobs”, a “crack down on illegal immigration”, a “stronger economy”, “fiscally conservative policies – less spending – lower taxes”, and the “end of state government benefits for those here illegally”.
These are all promises taken right off the campaign mailers sent out by my big government opponent. What has he delivered on?
Campaign promises are soon forgotten, our Constitution trampled on and despite overwhelming Republican control we still haven’t passed Constitutional Carry, meaningful tax reform, and the fight for Religious Freedom for all continues.
Billions of dollars are paid in benefits to illegals, and government keeps growing despite the promise to “downsize government”.
Out of control spending does not reflect “fiscally conservative principles” and the promise to “keep taxes low” turned into the biggest tax increase in the history of Georgia.
As I visit around the district I am struck by all the needs and concerns expressed to me – teen suicides and deaths from opioid overdose, the injustice of finding criminals have more rights than the victim, a shortage of affordable nursing homes, and the frustration of dealing with mental illness.
I have said from the very beginning of my campaign that I am not running AGAINST the establishment – I am running FOR the People of District 7, Fannin, Gilmer, and Dawson County.
I will work diligently to meet their needs and not those of a minority of special interest groups.
With our bloated budget and increased revenue thanks to a windfall as a result of President Trump’s federal tax cuts –surely we can do more to help the people of North Georgia instead of subsidizing Atlanta and their agenda.
The Primary election is May 22nd, and you can start early voting April 30th. I ask you for your vote so that, together, we can restore principled Conservative leadership to Georgia.
Margaret Williamson VoteWilliamson2018.com
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Having put in his qualification to run for the position of Gilmer County Post 2 Commissioner, G.R. “Jerry” Tuso resigned from his position as chairman of the Gilmer County Republican Party.
He tells FetchYourNews (FYN) he left the chairman position to run for the Post 2 position to be more hands on with the county in his service.
Previous to his time in Gilmer County, Tuso has spent a total 25 years as an air traffic controller. He had four years with the position in the United States Air Force and 21 years in the position with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). He noted these positions when speaking to FYN about his choice to run for the Board of Commissioners. He said he is running because he wants to continue serving the community.
Tuso also said he brings business experience to the position without currently having a business to divide his time between. His experience comes from attending Tarrent County Business School in Hurst, Texas, three years spent on the planning and zoning commission in Hurst, and 19 years in national contract negotiation for contractors dealing with the FAA.
Tuso did note one change he wanted to bring to the Board of Commissioners being a change to the “part-time” status of the post commissioners. “In the last ten years, Gilmer County has almost doubled, and we’ve still got the old hat of part-time post commissioners,” said Tuso.
He went on to note that the current commissioners spend upward of 30 hours a week on their positions through all they do. He also pointed out how large their binders are when the commissioners sit down to their monthly meetings. Tuso also noted the exemplary work that the current chairman and post commissioners have accomplished on the county, both financially and physically as the county is building on to itself.
Tuso told FYN that is what he wants to focus his service on, sustainable growth in the county. He noted the wineries as part of the agricultural growth the county has seen but with people continuing to want to live in Gilmer to commute elsewhere for work. His ideas of sustainable growth are what he wants to delve into at the position, if elected.
FYN asked Tuso to sum up his feelings on running for the Post 2 Commissioner. He replied saying, “I just want the chance to serve.”
Jerry Tuso is one of four candidates running for the Post 2 Commissioner position in Gilmer County. Check out FYN’s other candidate interviews as they become available for Woody Janssen, Karleen Ferguson, and Danny Hall.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Local citizen, and owner/operator of the Cartecay River Experience, Woody Janssen has qualified for Post 2 Commissioner in Gilmer County.
Running for the position, Janssen says he hopes to utilize his business and logistics background to move Gilmer forward in its economic process.
Janssen graduated in 1996 from Ole Miss (University of Mississippi) and moved through logistics management for several years before moving to Texas. Returning to Gilmer County, he has operated the Cartecay River Experience since 2009. Janssen tells FetchYourNews he has seen Gilmer County after the recession slowly progressing on its path to recovery and economic stability.
Noting the current commissioners’ progress in expanding the activities of Gilmer, Janssen pointed to an abundance of natural resources in the county to facilitate growth for “family activities” to attract a larger variety of people to the county. However, he tempered his statement on growth saying Gilmer needs to stay rural. He went on to say, “It feels like The Andy Griffith Show in a way, everybody waves still. You go down to Atlanta and you wave at somebody, it’s not like that … It brings that down-home feeling. That’s how I grew up in Utah when I was a kid. It was a small area, we were all farmers. I was on a farm since I was five years old.”
Janssen pointed to other local communities prospering in the rural parts of the state like Blue Ridge in Fannin County and Helen in White County. The common thing Janssen noted that he wants to see in Gilmer is the variety of activities to see and do.
Accomplishing this is not something one man does alone. Janssen noted the community’s work and great people working alongside other entities. He praised the current commissioner’s work on the Golf Course specifically saying it is the greatest he has ever seen it: “The way Mike Brumby has done this, what he has done with the golf course, it is going to slowly progress.” With definitive and continued progress, it becomes a matter of continuing the hard work to get Gilmer financially into the black.
Janssen continued, “There is a lot of work to be done, but with what Charlie has done, and Dallas and Travis have helped, they are bringing it more into the black.” Janssen said continuing the work of bringing in more commerce would be his focus in taking the position of Post 2 Commissioner.
In a final word towards voters, Janssen took a moment to say, “The progression is awesome with what’s going on. Do I think we can do a little bit better as a community? Yeah, everybody can. You can always progress. You can always get better. Something my coach always said, ‘You have to get better every day. If you don’t, then your competition is.’ There are little things we can always progress on. We can create more.”
Woody Janssen is one of four candidates running for the Post 2 Commissioner position in Gilmer County. Check out FYN’s other Candidate Interviews as they become available for Jerry Tuso, Karleen Ferguson, and Danny Hall.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris has officially told FYN he is going to run in the coming election for Chairman.
Sitting down with FYN, Paris confirmed this noting his satisfaction with the progress the county has made in recent years, but feeling like his job “isn’t finished.” He went on to say he likes the current Board of Commissioners and feels they have accomplished much together, specifically noting improvements to Gilmer County’s road department and improving the financial status of the county. He noted recent audits as evidence of the financial standing as well as vast improvements to county equipment.
In a possible second term, Paris stated he wanted to do more of what the county has been doing. Moving in the right direction and continuing that way is his goal as he said, “I have made accessibility, accountability, and responsiveness a priority, and will continue to do so, going forward.”
Paris went on to note that the county’s growth has not just been in general finances and the road department, but also the golf course and its 2018 expectation to break even on expenses, the parks and recreation department and its 2018 project for River Park to add/upgrade tennis courts, pickleball courts, and playgrounds, and the upgrading of county equipment while avoiding additional debt.
However, Paris told FYN the county’s accomplishments were the result of having excellent people in its departments and positions, and his job is made much easier by these people and their hard work. “It’s all about having good people, and we’ve got some of the best,” said Paris. When asked if he saw his job as a facilitator, he replied, “Any person who manages and does not tell you that their job is primarily as a facilitator is someone who is making their job a whole lot harder than it needs to be, and probably not getting the results they need to get.”
Over his three years in his current term, the chairman says he has found the toughest part of his job being to provide all the services people want and need with the resources the county currently has while simultaneously growing those resources. Indeed, he says he feels like his three years have been continually fixing things. Running again provides a chance at a term to chase his ambitions for the county, such as possibly adding a recreation center instead of just a pool. While he noted ideas encompassing a walking path, a covered pool, indoor courts for games, and adjustable spaces for multiple uses, the chairman said he felt the county has a lot of work to get to that point.
Along that note, Paris said he felt the current board has been a strength to the county through their discussions and inclusion of the public in all items on their agenda. Facilitating public comments throughout the meetings has allowed him the discussion at the pertinent times instead of at the end of the meeting in a specified time.
Speaking to the county’s citizens, Chairman Paris stated, “For the past three years, it has been my honor to represent Gilmer County as commission chairman. I am so very appreciative of the encouragement you’ve shown as I’ve worked toward improving county operations and facilities, the patience you’ve shown when road blocks were encountered, and the support you have given me when the decisions were especially tough. No matter how the upcoming election ends, I will remember your support and kindness for the rest of my life, and I thank you.”