When Mike Berg moved to Dawson County from Gwinnett years ago, he could have parked a lounge chair on a deck overlooking Lake Lanier and enjoyed retirement.
"I blame it all on [former county commissioner] Jim King," Berg said. "He wanted me to be on the planning commission, because he knew I had prior experience in Gwinnett.
"Once I got there and saw county government and the way it was being handled, I saw it really wasn't as good as it could be."
Now in his third term as chairman of Dawson's governing body, Berg said he has no regrets.
"I knew I could lend that to the county," he said. "I knew that I was going to stay here for however long I was on this earth and so I felt like it was important to me to give back. I had that expertise so I wanted to share it."
On Monday, Berg's ability to build consensus, negotiate when needed and communicate a vision for effective government were celebrated as he was sworn in as president of the state organization dedicated to serving counties.
Berg said serving as president of the Association County Commissioners of Georgia is an honor he shares with the county.
"I get to talk to big companies, developments and a lot of folks that I'll be able to tell, hey, look at Dawson County. It kind of brings it back home to us," he said. "I think the thing that folks need to realize as it comes back to Dawson is that this puts Dawson in a different light."
The association was formed in 1914 when county officials came together to help fund the state's first highway department. It works on behalf of officials and their communities by providing public policy and legislative advocacy, leadership development, civic and community engagement initiatives, as well as cost-saving measures.
To his knowledge, Berg is the association's first president from northeast Georgia and "most certainly from a smaller city north of metro Atlanta."
Ross King, ACCG executive director, hailed Berg's work in the private sector as a Georgia Power executive coupled with his political experience in urban and suburban county levels of local government.
"He is very dedicated to a team perspective on major project initiatives and works to rally a wide range of our organizations leaders to serve as ambassadors," King said.
Fellow Commissioner Julie Hughes Nix said Berg represents the dedication, tenacity and confidence needed to "successfully accomplish the multitude of intricate challenges and tasks" leaders face.
Among Berg's most satisfying accomplishments is Dawson's new government center, which opened in 2012 and will be paid off in two years using 1-cent sales tax revenue.
As association president, Berg said he will draw his priorities for the year on his professional experience to expand the group's marketing efforts, update its strategic plan and encourage better use of technology.
"I've got an aggressive plan, a vision for my year, which first involves our 100-year anniversary ... and we're going to be doing a lot of traveling around the state, which then of course means I get to talk about Dawson County," he said.