The revitalization of downtown Dawsonville was the main point of discussion at a debate between five candidates for Dawsonville City Council.
Held Oct. 16 by the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce and moderated by Chamber President Christie Haynes, the debate was an hour-long question-and-answer period with the candidates: Frank Craft, Alan Metzel, Tom Schaide, Angie Smith and Mike Sosebee.
Both Sosebee and Craft have been city council members previously, with Craft having been a county commissioner, as well.
The candidates are battling for the two open positions on the Dawsonville City Council, posts vacated by Mayor James Grogan and former councilman Calvin Byrd in their bids for the position of mayor. The election to fill those empty seats will be held during the Nov. 6 general election.
Haynes asked the candidates about relations between the county and city, and how they felt the two governments could work together to benefit each other.
Weve got a lot of good things going on in the city and county, Sosebee said. I think the better the city and the county can work together will make it much easier for the city to progress in the things they need to do.
Craft said that, having been both a council member and on the board of commissioners, he has a different viewpoint of how the two governments can work together. The city needs maybe a bypass for the locals to get around Dawsonville, he said. It would be nice if the city and county could find a way to work together and get this done so it doesnt affect people in the outer areas.
I have worked with those commissioners, he continued, saying he could help bridge any communication gaps.
Schaide echoed Craft in saying that the traffic through the city needs to be corrected. We ought to find some way to handle traffic in this town, he said. This is a perfect project for the state, city and county to work together.
Ive lived in areas where they solved this problem with a bypass ring around the city, he said.
Metzel started off by saying that the city and the county work together to the extent that they can, but that these are two separate entities trying to function as one. He said that while he is unaware of exactly how the relations are between the two governments since he is not part of the in crowd, he doesnt believe the county is encouraging its citizens to truly support the city.
The people who live near (Ga.) 400 pretty much stay there, he said. That, I think, is a real issue. Were missing out on real opportunities and real revenue.
Smith pointed out that the county has a lot to gain with a positive relationship with the city.
We should be able to work together, Smith said. The county has spent massive amounts of money to build their government center and their jail, and theyre beautiful facilities. What I would think the county would be willing to do is say, Hey, City of Dawsonville, lets work together because we have these great new facilities. What can we do to bring the city along so that it reflects the same amount of polish, the same amount of architecture, the same amount of just plain, old looking good?
Haynes also asked the candidates about their position on the expanded use of the airport within the city, and the five mostly hedged the question in favor of listening to the voters.
I think its possibly a good idea, but Id want to hear from the voters, Smith said. Schaide and Metzel agreed.
Thats what we all need to do a lot of, listening, Schaide said. Metzel said he sees concerns with the airport. I see an ability for city citizens to have a say, he continued.
Sosebee and Craft were more definitive in their responses, each with a different viewpoint.
I voted no (on the airport), Craft said. I didnt feel we needed an airport. He believes an airport brings crime and pollution to the surrounding location, he said.
Sosebee sees an airport as a positive contribution to the community.
I think the Atlanta Motorsports Park and the airport, it goes hand-in-hand, he said, adding that the airport would be good for the addition of an industrial park within the city.
All five candidates discussed the need for a downtown area that people would want to visit. The word revitalization was used often throughout the evening.
Metzel in particular discussed the proposed raising of the water rates, a possibility that had been discussed at the most recent city council meeting. He decried the move, saying that there were other places to cut the city budget so as not to raise the rates for city water customers.
One thing all candidates agreed on was the importance of voting in this upcoming election.