Candidates vying for two open seats on the Dawsonville City Council fielded questions on several issues during a debate Oct. 16 at the local Republican Party headquarters on the town square.
Organized by the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce, the forum touched on topics ranging from a regional airport and downtown revitalization to plans for moving the city forward.
Council hopefuls Frank Craft, Alan Metzel, Tom Schaide, Angie Smith and Mike Sosebee also detailed their qualifications for office to the audience, which was made up primarily of their families and friends.
Held in conjunction with the Nov. 6 General Election, the special election is citywide and the seats will go to the top two vote-getters.
Craft, who has previously served on the city council and the Dawson County commission, and Sosebee, also a former councilman, touted their experience.
Craft said his work as a commissioner and his ability to "get along" with county officials would also be a benefit to "city and the county residents."
Sosebee said he was proud of the city's accomplishments during his nearly three decades on the council.
Metzel and Schaide, political newcomers, highlighted their careers in the private sector as experience that could help guide Dawsonville.
Metzel, a local business owner, read through a list of more than a dozen downtown eateries that have closed in the last few years, saying something must be done to keep businesses alive.
He also outlined a budget plan that he said would eliminate the city's need to raise water and sewer rates, an option the council discussed earlier this month.
Schaide said he would use his experience in real estate to help the city clean up downtown subdivisions that have fallen due to the economic turndown.
"The subdivisions, they are a disgrace. It can be done and it can be done relatively quickly," he said.
The lone candidate currently on the council, Smith focused on her love for Dawsonville.
"I care about the city. I want to see the city grow," she said. "This is my home and I want to see a city where people are proud to drive through. And that, more than anything, is the love of this city that I have."
Smith and Caleb Phillips were appointed to temporarily fill the two posts vacated when former councilmen Calvin Byrd and James Grogan resigned earlier this year to run for mayor following the death of Joe Lane Cox.
Grogan won the July 31 contest. Phillips chose not to seek a seat this fall.
Advance voting for the election is under way.
The city ballot is separate from the General Election ballot, which includes the presidential race between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, congressional races and a referendum on charter schools in Georgia.
Advance voting for both elections runs from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday through Nov. 2 at the Dawson County Board of Elections and Registration office on Academy Avenue.
Voters can also cast their ballots from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at the same office.
This year, Saturday voting takes place during the 45th Annual Mountain Moonshine Festival.
Several roads in the downtown area will be closed for the festival. Those wanting to vote Saturday are encouraged to use Maple Street to access Academy.