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Candidates debate issues
6 Candidates Forum pic
County commission candidates Jimmy Hamby, from left, Sharon Fausett and Corey Gutherie highlighted their qualifications and answered questions during a political forum held by the Dawson County Republican Party last week. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News

Citizens had their first chance to hear from candidates vying for the county's District 1 Commission seat last week during a political forum held by the Dawson County Republican Party.

Sharon Fausett and Corey Gutherie fielded a variety of prepared questions March 25, many focusing on views of issues currently affecting Dawson County.

Incumbent District 3 Commissioner Jimmy Hamby also participated in the forum. He is running unopposed.

The forum touched on topics such as the upcoming tax extension vote, future land use as it pertains to conserving the rural aspect and sustainable growth along Ga. 400, as well as the county's relationship with city leaders and the notion of term limits for elected officials.

Detailing their qualifications to the audience of nearly 50 attendees, Fausett, 63, touted her lifelong Dawson County residency while Gutherie, 36, focused on bringing a younger perspective to the board.

"If I hadn't loved it here, I would have left. I have been here all my life. It has served me so well," said Fausett, a former teacher who later served as director for the Dawson County Department of Family and Children Services for nearly a decade.

She currently runs an agritourism destination on the county's west side, a notion she considers an asset for the commission.

"We were twice Farm Family of the Year, because of our conservation practices. I have been so fortunate and so blessed to spend so many years [here]," she said.

Gutherie, a Dawson resident since 2010, previously served as an engineer for the county government before resigning in 2013 in anticipation of running for public office.

"As the county engineer, I got to know what makes Dawson County tick. I also got to know what ticks off Dawson County. I think that's an important thing to understand," he said. "I can add to our commission. I can bring new, fresh thoughts and new ideas, but still maintain those same values that make Dawson County so special."

The seat is currently held by Gary Pichon, who is not seeking re-election.

Kevin Ellison, 49, who is also running for the post, elected to skip the forum after a disagreement with local party leaders.

"The citizens of Dawson County are the most important issue in this campaign. I do not want to take away from that top priority," he said Monday. "I have a serious issue with the leadership of the Dawson County Republican Party. An issue that is fundamentally wrong but is accepted by the majority does not make it right.

"I'm seeking office as a Republican, but I will not participate in party activities."

Ellison said he will participate in the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce's April 15 forum at Dawson County Middle School.

A meet and greet session with candidates starts at 6 p.m. followed by the forum at 6:30 p.m.

In all likelihood, the race will be decided at the conclusion of the May 20 General Primary, as no Democrats qualified, though a second qualifying period for independent candidates will be held June 23-27 at the local board of elections and registration office on Academy Avenue.