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Tanner ready for challenge
Lawmaker-elect will take office Monday
3 Tanner mug

A new chapter will begin for Dawson County native Kevin Tanner on Monday.

With family and close friends by his side at the state Capitol in Atlanta, Tanner will be sworn in to represent the new 9th District in the Georgia House of Representatives.

"My mom and dad and brother, and Stacie and the girls will all be there and some other folks they'll be there to see me sworn in and my wife will hold the Bible," he said.

"It will be a special time in our family's history and I'm excited and appreciate their support and honesty."

The seat was previously held by Amos Amerson of Dahlonega, who served for 12 years before his retirement in December.

Tanner, 40, said he considers fellow Republican Amerson a mentor and plans to draw on the veteran statesman's experience and knowledge.

"Amos served in the House with distinction, and I'm thankful to have him as an ally," he said. "I'm thankful to have Amos as someone I can call on for counsel and advice. He's offered that and I plan to take advantage of that and already have in many cases. I think it's going to be very important for me moving forward."

Tanner said the relationships he has forged in his more than two-decade local government career likely will serve him and Dawson County well at the state level.

Prior to serving as Dawson County's manager and chief operating officer, a post he has held since 2008, Tanner spent nearly 20 years in law enforcement, climbing the ranks to chief deputy with the Dawson County Sheriff's Office.

With close ties to House Speaker David Ralston, whose district includes part of western Dawson, as well as Gov. Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and State Sen. Steve Gooch, Tanner said the region is poised to accomplish "great things."

"There's a great opportunity for north Georgia over the next few years with the type of leadership we have in Atlanta and I'm excited to be a part of that," he said. "In order to get things done, you've got to have cooperation from a lot of people and you've got to build consensus."

Among Tanner's goal in his new role is continuing to open the lines of communication with the public.

"I feel like I've done a good job of that in law enforcement and in the county, communicating with the constituents and finding new ways to communicate, and I'm going to continue to do that," he said.

Tanner plans to maintain Amerson's practice of monthly breakfast meetings during the session in both Dawson and Lumpkin counties. His first is set for 9 a.m. Jan. 19 at Ryan's in Dawsonville.

"Sometimes it's easy to think we know what everybody thinks," he said. "But it's important to go out in the community, go out in the churches, into civic clubs, out to the farmers and talk to the people that are really living their lives every day ... and facing the struggles that we all face as people living in this area to find out what they are hearing and what they think."

One of Tanner's first orders of business after being sworn in Monday will be to introduce legislation designed to help the state sex offender board better classify offenders.

Under Georgia law, the sex offender board doesn't have access to the parole board files, which outline the offenders' medical records and psychological reports, among others.

"The legislation I'm going to introduce would allow the sex offender board access to that very important information, which is in an effort to continue to protect our children in this state," Tanner said.

"They will have access to the information, but it will still be sealed from the public view. But it's important that the public knows what level of classification this sex offender is and that they are being supervised properly."

Tanner's last day with the county government is Friday. The county commission has planned a ceremony in his honor to follow its 4 p.m. meeting Thursday at the government center. The community is invited to attend.