Can­di­dates speak out at Q&A ses­sion

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - By Kevin Myrick Ed­i­tor

The Polk County Com­mis­sion has a choice to make: pick a can­di­date to­gether to join their ranks, or let the Grand Jury sat to hear crim­i­nal cases vote on who they think should take the District 1 seat.

Com­mis­sion­ers have a group of eight that are ready and will­ing to take over the spot on the board right now, and are just wait­ing for a vote to ap­prove one of them to join.

To help make that de­ci­sion, the can­di­dates gath­ered at the Aug. 30 spe­cial ses­sion of the County Com­mis­sion for an hour-long in­ter­view process be­fore the pub­lic to let their po­si­tions be known on a cer­tain num­ber of is­sues, and pro­vide in­for­ma­tion about them­selves and their lives.

The group in­cluded Bobby Brooks, De­wain Camp­bell, Cleve Hart­ley, Jose Igle­sias, Gary Martin, David McEl­wee, Har­land Moody and Car­son Tan­ner, and each had their own set of ideas and is­sues they ex­pected to face if se­lected to be the next com­mis­sioner.

Here’s some in­for­ma­tion about each can­di­date that they pro­vided to the com­mis­sion dur­ing the Aug. 30 in­ter­views, and their thoughts on cer­tain is­sues they felt im­por­tant to ad­dress:

Bobby Brooks

The former District At­tor­ney and ju­di­cial can­di­date, Brooks also once served on the Polk County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion as well.

“I was born here in Cedar­town and have spent my en­tire life in Polk County,” he said.

Brooks, who has prac­ticed law since 1996, is mar­ried and has t wo grown chil­dren.

He is also a mem­ber of Grace Pres­by­te­rian Church.

He seeks the District 1 seat in hopes of look­ing at sev­eral is­sues in Polk County, among them ad­just­ing to the com­ing growth.

“We’ve got to learn to ad­just and ac­co­mo­date that growth, which hope­fully will come with more job growth,” Brooks said.

“We’ve got to make use of what we have and get ready for growth, but at the same time we don’t need to be rais­ing taxes any fur­ther.”

De­wain Camp­bell

A lo­cal busi­ness­man, Camp­bell was one of two ad­di­tional en­trants into the group of peo­ple seek­ing con­sid­er­a­tion for the District 1 seat.

Camp­bell, a cousin of Glenn Camp­bell from Polk County’s Land­fill Ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee, said that though the land­fill is one of the many is­sues he’s wor­ried about, his big­gest pri­or­ity is get­ting in­dus­tries to in­vest lo­cally.

He pointed to a large num­ber of restau­rants com­ing into the area, bring­ing jobs but not those that come with liv­ing wages.

“We need jobs that are go­ing to pay $20 an hour, or $17 an hour,” he said.

Camp­bell said he was born and raised in Alabama, but has lived in Polk County for 55 years.

Along with his busi­ness, he also was in­volved in youth sports.

Though his wife passed sev­eral years ago, he is still sur­rounded by chil­dren, grand­chil­dren and great chil­dren who help keep him busy. He said he mainly wanted to do as much as he could to help Cedar­town and Polk County be pros­per­ous.

Cleve Hart­ley

A former Polk County Com­mis­sioner and pre­vi­ous candi-date, Hart­ley is seek­ing to serve on the board a sec­ond time via an in­terim spot on the board.

He’s cur­rently on the board of Coosa Val­ley Credit Union and was also on the Board of Di­rec­tors for the Cedar­town United Fund.

Hart­ley was chair, and also was chair of the Coun­cil of Elected Of­fi­cials for the North­west Ge­or­gia Re­gional Com­mis­sion, and worked for Gen­eral Elec­tric.

Hart­ley said that he be­lieved his past ex­pe­ri­ence on the com­mis­sion made him an ideal can­di­date since he al­ready was well versed in many of the is­sues al­ready on the board’s plate.

“I be­lieve I can make my county a bet­ter place to live, work, play and wor­ship,” he said.

He lives with his wife Betsy at Meadow Lakes.

Jose Igle­sias

Lo­cal owner of Taxes de Amer­ica, a mem­ber of the Cedar­town Plan­ning Com­mis­sion and also a par­tic­i­pant in the Lead Polk lead­er­ship class of 2017, Igle­sias seeks to bring some­one with both lead­er­ship ex­pe­ri­ence but also a di­verse look on Polk County’s fu­ture.

“It would be the honor of my life to serve the peo­ple, all the peo­ple,” he said. “I have a lo­cal proven track record, and I will work hard to ad­vance the in­ter­ests of Polk County.”

He added that it was im­por­tant for him too to bring busi­ness sen­si­bil­i­ties to county gov­ern­ment, mak­ing de­ci­sions based on what’s best for all.

He and his wife Gio­vanna and their two chil­dren live in Cedar­town, where his tax prepa­ra­tion busi­ness has been flour­ish­ing since 2007. Igle­sias also serve on the board of Pri­mary Health­care, Inc., and was a stake­holder for Cedar­town in the Com­pre­hen­sive Plan process.

“But most im­por­tantly I’m a tax­payer just like you,” Igle­sias said.

He had a num­ber of is­sues he want to work on if se­lected, but chief among them was eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. Among those he wanted to pro­mote as an attribute for the county is the Polk County Col­lege and Ca­reer Academy, which he said he be­lieves rep­re­sents the fu­ture of ed­u­ca­tion lo­cally and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment gen­er­ally as job train­ing be­comes just as big a fo­cus.

The chal­lenge he said Polk County faces in the near fu­ture is fac­ing up to de­ci­sions made “10 to 15 years ago” that have im­pacted lo­cals now.

“We need to im­prove com­mu­ni­ca­tion and co­op­er­a­tion along all branches of gov­ern­ment and with the peo­ple,” he said.

Gary Martin

A former Cedar­town City Com­mis­sioner and Board of Ed­u­ca­tion mem­ber, Martin said he’s ready to serve now and said his abil­ity to bring peo­ple to­gether.

“I’m not seek­ing this seat with an agenda or a vendetta,” Martin said. “I’m seek­ing this of­fice to make Polk County a bet­ter county and to bet­ter the con­di­tions.”

Known just as much for hair­cuts at Martin’s Styling Cen­ter on North Main Street as he is for his past ser­vice to lo­cal res­i­dents, Martin hopes if he is cho­sen by Com­mis­sion­ers to give an hon­est look at any is­sue that comes be­fore him.

And to him, Polk County still needs some work, with one of the big­gest com­plaints to be ad­dressed first: the land­fill.

“There’s a lot of chal­lenges in the county, in­dus­try be­ing one of those and the air­port be­ing an­other,” he said. “But I think our most sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenge is our new moun­tain, the land­fill... One of these days some­one is go­ing to have to pay the fid­dler, and we’re go­ing to have to get a han­dle on the land­fill.”

Martin has been in busi­ness in Cedar­town for 54 years. He has one son, Wade Martin, who is a golf pro­fes­sional and coach in The Vil­lages, Fla.

David McEl­wee

The former As­sis­tant County Man­ager and co-owner of Brother Joe’s Cof­fee in Cedar­town is hop­ing he might be the next choice for the county com­mis­sion based off his past ex­pe­ri­ence with the board.

McEl­wee, who left the county’s em­ploy in 2016 to run for the of­fice of Tax Com­mis­sioner against Kathy Cole, hopes that with his track record with the county he might be able to help with is­sues the com­mis­sion is fac­ing cur­rently and in the years ahead.

Chief among those is the Polk County Land­fill, which he said should come back un­der the county’s con­trol.

“I’m not go­ing to have any bones about it on where I stand, I ab­so­lutely think the county needs to take back over con­trol,” said McEl­wee. “But the big chal­lenge with that is be­ing able to fig­ure out where are we go­ing to get the money to pay for it. Are we go­ing to raise taxes? Be­cause I’ll tell you as a prop­erty owner, I don’t want to raise taxes.”

He added the other cri­sis the county faces is in the fu­ture iden­tity of the com­mu­nity, whether Polk County will serve as a bed­room com­mu­nity for At­lanta work­ers, or “do we want to be a thriv­ing in­dus­trial me­trop­o­lis. We’ve got to make some hard de­ci­sions.”

The hus­band and fa­ther and former busi­ness owner said he’s ready to join the board if called to serve. Chief among the ideas he had for get­ting Polk County ahead eco­nom­i­cally is fo­cus­ing on tourism op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“We should get peo­ple into Polk County, take their money at lo­cal busi­nesses, and send them home as soon as they are done here for the day,” McEl­wee said.

McEl­wee served for three years as as­sis­tant county man­ager, in which he said he was able to help in a va­ri­ety of ways, from the cre­ation of the Polk County Drug Task Force, among oth­ers.

He’s a vet­eran of the U.S. Army with 24 years of ex­pe­ri­ence, in­clud­ing com­bat in Afghanistan.

Har­land Moody

Of all the can­di­dates who were pre­sented with ques­tions on the night of Aug. 30, Moody kept his the short­est within the minute time frame he was given for all 8.

A former em­ployee of Bakeart Steel with 31 years on the job and a U.S. Army vet­eran, Moody said he’s a life­long res­i­dent of Polk County 52 years to “a won­der­ful lady.”

Moody said he wanted to fo­cus ef­forts since it re­mains close to larger metropoli­tan ar­eas on de­vel­op­ing in­dus­trial prospects for job growth, but that “we also need to take care of our county em­ploy­ees.”

The chal­lenge the county faces in Moody’s eyes are as oth­ers said the land­fill, but he said the need for job growth was just as im­por­tant.

“To me, no one is mak­ing the real ef­fort to bring in in­dus­tries in the com­mu­nity,” he said.

Car­son Tan­ner

A sales­man at Din­gler Mo­tor Com­pany, Tan­ner comes to the board as an ap­pli­cant with­out any po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence.

But he be­lieves that is a good po­si­tion to be in con­sid­er­ing re­cent tur­moil with the Board of Com­mis­sion­ers, is­sues he said he knows noth­ing about and doesn’t care to think much of if he’s se­lected to serve Polk County.

“I be­lieve our great­est at­tributes are what’s here at this meet­ing, our peo­ple,” Tan­ner said. “The peo­ple of Polk County have a grow­ing de­sire to be more hands on and proac­tive in the com­mu­nity, and I think that’s not only what’s go­ing to take us to heal our Board of Com­mis­sion­ers, but heal many sit­u­a­tions we face in life on a daily ba­sis. Once our peo­ple de­cide to get more hands on, not only here but all over the na­tion as well.”

Tan­ner said the chal­lenge he be­lieves the county faces the most in the near fu­ture is mo­ti­vat­ing peo­ple to fix lo­cal prob­lems.

“The econ­omy strug­gles, but if you drive by there’s a lot of help wanted signs on a lot of places too,” Tan­ner said. “So many peo­ple say ‘I’m not go­ing to do that work,’ but I’ll take a shovel in a minute if makes this county a bet­ter place. I wish we could all have that at­ti­tude.”

Tan­ner, hus­band to West­side Ele­men­tary speech pathol­o­gist Dana Tan­ner and fa­ther to three chil­dren, said that he’s a life­long res­i­dent of Polk County and has no de­sire to go any­where else.

“I look for­ward to stay­ing here and serv­ing you guys,” he said.

What’s next

With the res­ig­na­tion of former County Com­mis­sioner Ja­son Ward on July 31, the clock has been tick­ing for the Polk Coun-ty Com­mis­sion to de­ter­mine who will take over the re­main­ing time on the board for District 1.

A 60-day pe­riod is given for the com­mis­sion to choose their next District 1 board mem­ber, which comes to a close on Sept. 29. Com­mis­sion­ers can call meet­ings and vote as many time as nec­es­sary dur­ing the next weeks to make a choice, and it must be com­pleted by ma­jor­ity. Ini­tially it was a 4-1 vote, but with the res­ig­na­tion last week of Ste­fanie Drake Bur­ford from the District 3 com­mis­sion seat, it’s yet to be de­ter­mined how vot­ing would be com­pleted. Com­mis­sion Chair Marshelle Thax­ton said he was told they would have to vote unan­i­mously as a board to choose the next com­mis­sioner, but that hasn’t been con­firmed as of press time. If the com­mis­sion fails to vote and ap­prove a new District 1 board mem­ber to join their ranks, the de­ci­sion will go to the Grand Jury.

Ac­cord­ing to the rules set forth fol­low­ing the se­lec­tion of Com­mis­sioner Scotty Tillery, the po­si­tion will be ad­ver­tised for a month via the Polk County Board of Elec­tions, and then ap­pli­ca­tions for the District 1 seat will then be pre­sented to the Grand Jury for a fi­nal de­ci­sion. The same process will be en­acted for the Com­mis­sion’s District 3 seat pre­vi­ously held by Bur­ford. That tick­ing clock ends on Oct. 22, when 60 full days will have gone by.

De­wain Camp­bell

David McEl­wee

Har­land Moody

Bobby Brooks

Cleve Hart­ley

Jose Igle­sias

Gary Martin

Car­son Tan­ner

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