A small political forum Wednesday evening gave voters a final opportunity to hear from candidates vying for the county's District 1 commission seat.
Held at Peach Brandy Cottage near downtown Dawsonville, the forum featured questions prepared by voters in attendance at the event.
Candidates Kevin Ellison, Sharon Fausett and Corey Gutherie fielded questions ranging from ways to improve public safety response time and employee retention, to restoring public comment during commission meetings and their views on protecting the county's natural resources.
The District 1 post is currently held by Gary Pichon, who did not seek reelection.
He did, however, offer attendees at the forum tips for choosing his successor.
"A lot of time, people pick people that they like. And that's not a very good system. Liking is not enough. You're really trying to match up attributes and skills with the job you have at hand," he said. "You should look at their past...if you've got a messed up private life, you're probably going to have a messed up public life.
Occupation: Narcotics officer
With a nearly 30-year career in county government, Ellison said his primary focus is on public safety.
"My No. 1 goal is public safety. I believe public safety is in a bad situation her in Dawson County. They're hurting. They're hurting bad," he said.
Grants for equipment and additional personal, he said, are available.
Ellison also noted a $10,000 pay discrepancy for local EMTs compared to those in neighboring Forsyth County.
"We've got to work on...keeping the employees we have here," he said.
A graduate of Georgia Tech, Gutherie most recently served as an engineer for the county government.
Gutherie said his education and experience are skillsets needed to be "a great commissioner."
"I learned to be a professional problem solver. [As county engineer] I stretched out a budget as far as is could possible stretch out. I understand the value of a dollar and I understand the value of the taxpayer dollar," he said.
He currently owns and operates a private engineering business in the county.
Occupation: Agri-tourism entrepreneur
A political newcomer, Fausett is a county native with a focus on preserving the community's rural aspect.
She said she wants to share what makes Dawson County so special with tourist that could help generate local revenue.
"I want to preserve and protect what we have," she said.
She said she looks at the commission seat as a position of service to her community.
"When you think of me, I want you to think about how committed I am," she said.
Advanced voting continues through Friday for the May 20 primary election.
Polls at the county's three precincts will be open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. on Election Day.
A candidate must secure 50 percent plus one vote to claim victory. If that doesn't happen, the top two vote-getters head to a July 22 runoff election.