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Commission chair will not seek 4th term
A-Berg mug

When you blow the candles out on your 70th birthday, there also comes a certain degree of privilege.

Dawson County Commission Chairman Mike Berg took that liberty during last week's board meeting and surprised even his closest friends by announcing he would not seek a fourth term.

"Up until 4 o'clock, I still hadn't made a decision," he said afterwards.

Just weeks into the last year of his third term, Berg said he's finally ready to retire.

"I was thinking last night about my time in community service and I counted it up and it kind of surprised me," he said. "Of my 70 years, I've been involved in some kind of public service, whether it was as a commissioner here or in Gwinnett, a planning commissioner, starting soccer and basketball programs and all the rest of that, it's just been years and years of work."

A retired utilities executive with Georgia Power, Berg took his seat as chairman of the board on Jan. 1, 2005.

Among his most satisfying accomplishments is Dawson County's new government center, which opened in 2012 and was paid off in two years using 1-cent sales tax revenue.

He also served as chairman of the planning commission and as a county commissioner in Gwinnett when the area was experiencing substantial growth.

"I'm giving my wife [Jane] and I a present," he said. "I reserve the right to change my mind, but right now, we're going to do some other things."

His fellow commissioners were taken aback by the unexpected announcement, though those close to him knew he was considering the option.

"He told me he'd let me know his decision by mid-February," said District 4 Commissioner Julie Hughes Nix. "I'm so surprised, but I'm also so happy for him and for Jane."

Berg's departure from the race leaves only one candidate seeking the office at this point.

Billy Thurmond, recently retired director of Dawson County Emergency Services, announced late last year that he planned to pursue the chairman's seat on the board.

Qualifying for the May 24 primary election will be held March 7-11.