Two Dawsonville City Council seats are up for election this fall, with early voting beginning in just a few short weeks. As the election draws closer, it’s important to get to know the candidates you’re voting for to fill the council Post 2 and Post 4 seats. DCN sat down with all four candidates to ask them a couple questions about themselves and their goals if they should be elected.
McCracken is 45 years old and is a conservative. He holds an associates degree in air conditioning and mechanical systems from Gwinnett College and went to MTI from 2000 through 2003 to study mechanical systems.
He currently works as the general manager for Joe Powell and Associates. He has lived in the city limits for four years and is a 25-year resident of Dawson County and has been involved in many groups and organizations in the community, including serving as the vice president on the Gold Creek Homeowners Association board, leading small groups and Sunday school classes at local churches
He is an alumnus of Leadership Forsyth and has served on the Dawsonville DDA for about two years. He is currently running for Post 4 City Council seat against Mark Wade French.
Q: Why are you running for city council?
A: “My goal is to make this city a destination for its citizens or for the citizens of the county first and foremost, cause currently it is not. I’m running to try to help make the city a destination.”
Q: How does your line of work, political background and life experiences translate to you being a strong candidate for this seat?
A: “I’ve been in leadership for 15 years, I have overseen large budgets, I have negotiated multi-million dollar contracts and I know there’s a lot of negotiation that needs to happen in the city with developers, land owners, business owners, government entities, and I do that every day. Negotiating with government and businesses is my forte. Also conflict resolution and leading people is a daily occurrence for me.”
Q: What is your definition of leadership and what are some examples of leadership positions you have held?
A: “Leadership to me is developing people to their fullest potential. I think one of the qualities that I have learned in leadership is not having fear of people outperforming you. Surrounding yourself with people smarter than you is an awesome leadership quality, and not being afraid of making very difficult decisions.
Also providing good feedback to the people you lead — there’s leadership styles that go into hiding and they’re the guy behind the curtain, but I’m not the guy behind the curtain. I sit on the leadership board of Joe Powell and Associates, I’m an alumnus of Leadership Forsyth and I sit on the DDA here.”
Q: What are some of the biggest continuations or changes you plan on bringing to the city?
A: “Executing an updated master plan for the city — that’s number one. All this effort and resources went into developing this master plan but now it’s 12 years old and some of it was executed like Main Street Park, but I’d love to see the continuation of focusing on really developing a master plan and executing it.
And sort of connected to it is beautification of the city, landscaping it; we often judge people based upon their appearance and people do the same thing with the city. And also encouraging healthy and very well-planned residential growth; we are very behind with our downtown development. We are being out-paced by residential growth tremendously, so catching up to that.”
Q: What about Dawsonville makes you want to be a part of its government?
A: “It feels like one person’s investment will have returns. The government is pretty streamlined here; it’s not a huge bureaucracy, it’s a working, bare-knuckles government structure.”
Q: What are the top three issues you believe Dawsonville is currently facing and what are your plans to address each?
A: “Residential growth out-performing our retail is the one that’s the most obvious. It seems like there needs to be some negotiation in town with some landowners; negotiation with land stakeholders in the city to bring change. I think that we can negotiate a lot of those things that have been hold-ups in the past and overcome hold-ups that have been consistent through the years. I don’t want to turn this place into the Halcyon, but some good, smart, well-planned growth would be good for everyone.
And I’d say lastly is there’s not enough ongoing or one-time events to keep citizens interested in the city. We have some good things, but not enough to keep them going ‘I’m staying home this weekend’. Having more events that are perpetual — for example, I should mention that the food truck nights have been awesome and I think those should go from once a month to once a week.”
Q: What is the importance of supporting local small businesses in Dawsonville and do you have any plans to help further this initiative?
A: “The current businesses need to be spotlighted and let the citizens of the city and the county know what we have — I’ve been here for four years and I still don’t know all the businesses here.
Incentivizing businesses to move here and assisting current businesses in beautifying their own buildings and helping them find grants to do so. We have to have a very concise goal for our city so the business owners know where we’re going.
The DDA and the city council need to work closely together; right now the DDA seems strong to me so I think that’s a big goal is to have the DDA and council work together.”
Q: In what direction would you like to see Dawsonville head as a tourist attraction during your term?
A: “Step one for tourism is to first of all be a destination for our own people. Make the downtown city eye-catching and appealing to the eye.
Two, we have to smartly develop this racing thing because it is so relevant whether you like racing or not. I can travel anywhere in the world and I’ll say I’m from Dawsonville and I hear ‘oh, Awesome Bill from Dawsonville!’. It definitely has a flavor, and we have to expand on that to the nth degree.
We have to be able to magnify it and run with the heritage of the racing and the moonshine history. And I would add we have to embrace our past heritage but not be afraid of growing forward.”
Q: How much time are you willing or able to commit to being a council member?
A: “I don’t live on a time clock, so I’m not limited to 8-hour days and I have passion that if something needs to get done it’s not limited by the hours it takes. So as much time as it takes."
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the seat?
A: “My career, my integrity, and my investment that I already have in this city. I have four children and my wife and my chocolate doodle, so I’m invested in this place and I don’t wanna go anywhere else. No matter where I go, I always love coming home.”