Editors note: This is the second of a three-part series covering election 2014.
Candidates for the Dawson County District-1 commission seat agree consolidation of government is not the answer for attracting businesses.
The topic was one of four covered at a debate hosted April 15 by the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce.
The forum was moderated by Etowah Water and Sewer Authority Manager Brooke Anderson. Responses are printed in the order of response at the debate.
Andersons question to the panel was: Some citizens have argued that consolidation of our county and city government as well as Etowah Water and Sewer would make our community more competitive for attracting and retaining businesses. Do you view consolidation as a potential positive? If so or not, what specific ideas do you have to help make the county more attractive to new businesses and more competitive in areas of business retention and growth?
Candidate Corey Gutherie said he could see a benefit, but didnt feel consolidation was necessary. I think city and county governments can operate together, Gutherie said. What benefits the county will benefit the city and vice versa and the same with Etowah Water and Sewer Authority and the Dawsonville water department.
Gutherie did go on to say the city and county would benefit by working together. It is good for business to attract businesses if all are in unison. That is something I think can be improved on. But consolidation of government is not that way. It is by joining together and reaching out to our businesses and ensure that our chamber and development authority are properly funded, and we are able to give them as much resources as we can so they can lure these businesses to our community.
Candidate Kevin Ellison also doesnt think consolidation is the answer. Well, I doubt that is going to happen, Ellison said. Dekalb County went through the same thing with cities being formed and basically that all comes from poorer service level from county government. We dont see that here. Ellison went on to say the government is already consolidated as far as fire, law and emergency services are considered.
Ellison also said he feels citizens of Dawsonville probably appreciate the local control they have. I really dont see that happening or being a benefit to Dawson County at this point in time . . . I dont think (it) would be very positive for anybody because of the cost involved to create these different entities. At this point, I dont think it would be effective to consolidate.
If its not broken, dont fix it, is how Sharon Fausett sees government consolidation. As I see it right now, it seems to be working, Fausett said. If it aint broke, I wouldnt fix it. Wouldnt try to fix it. At some point in time, considering money, economics, that might come. But right now it seems to be working. I know sometimes theres conflicts and that can be worked out. But as far as I see it right now I see them as separate entities, and I think theyre doing fine.
Part three of the series focuses on development in Dawson County.
The forum can be watched in its entirety on the Dawson County Chamber of Commerces Facebook page.