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Architect will run for county commission chair
I-Peter Hill announces candidacy mug

A local architect who has served many years on the county's development authority recently announced he wants to be Dawson County's next commission chairman.

"Running for office is something I've been thinking about for a number of years," said 51-year-old Peter Hill.

The announcements that current Chairman Mike Berg would not seek a fourth term and District 2 Commission James Swafford would not seek a third propelled him to go ahead and step up.

"I felt we were very well represented on the commission, so I found my place on the development authority," he said. "When I heard that both James and Mike were not going to run again, I just feel like there's going to be a big hole left, because I feel like those are two of our strongest leaders on the commission."

Hill believes his service on the development authority, which is charged with bringing quality business to the county, along with his involvement with organizations like the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce, where he was responsible for the group's leadership program for nearly a decade and also served as chairman of the board, qualifies him to lead the county as commission chair.

"I understand the moving parts of a thriving community. I fear without this leadership on the commission, that we could actually take several steps back and become much less business oriented and less business friendly," he said. "I think that the business community should be represented in our local government and it's the elected officials that have the burden of doing that."

Hill admits he's pro-development, though he stresses the importance of preserving the county's natural resources, while also maintaining a tax base that takes the burden away from homeowners.

He references the two new retail developments going in at Ga. 400 and Dawson Forest Road.

"They are finally going to be developed. I feel like there are a lot of opportunities coming our way. That's going to spur a lot more development," he said. "I think that economic development is the vital engine of any thriving community because without strong economic development, our tax base either goes flat or becomes widely unbalanced with far more residential than commercial.

"The more we can balance our tax base with business income, the less of a burden it puts on the people who live here, our homeowners."

A graduate of Southern Tech with a bachelor's degree in architecture, Hill owns Hill Designs Associates Architects, Inc. in Dawsonville.

"I've had my own business for 18 years. We've weathered two recessions. I understand that sometimes you have to make hard decisions," he said. "They're good times and then there are challenging times, and you've really got to be prepared for the challenging times."

The father of two adult children, Hill said he wants Dawson County to be a place where young adults want to live and work when they are ready to start their lives as adults.

"My kids, they both still live here. I think it's important that we provide opportunity for our kids when they're graduating from high school or Lanier Tech or Georgia Tech, I want them to have a place to come back to and say they want to start their business here or they want to work here in Dawson County," he said.

Billy Thurmond, who recently retired as director of Dawson County Emergency Services, has also qualified to run for the chairman's seat on the commission.

The election will likely be decided in the May 24 primary as no Democrats are seeking the office. There is still time for independent candidates to file a notice to run.