In a non-unanimous vote on Monday night, the Dawsonville City Council appointed a new member to fill the recently vacated seat of Council Member Steve Tolson.
Council members voted 2-1, with Post 4 Council Member Mark French opposed, to appoint Dawsonville man William Illg to the Post 2 seat.
Illg, an investment advisor, told the Dawson County News that he hadn’t planned on being in local politics until recently when Tolson, a friend, encouraged him to apply for the vacant council seat.
“I said I wanted to talk it over with my wife, talk to other council members about what they like and what they don’t like, and get more information,” Illg said. “And after talking to the other council members they said ‘Will, I think you should seriously consider it’. So I was praying about it and it became very easy to make the decision.”
Following Tolson’s resignation, Dawsonville Mayor Mike Eason told the Dawson County News that because the vacated seat will be up for reelection in November, the city’s charter allows council members to appoint a replacement without holding a special election.
Explaining his no vote, French said that even though he believes Illg is a good choice to fill the vacant spot, he believed the council's selection should have been made more readily available to the public.
“I think it does the candidate here a little bit of a disservice because people will say, ‘we didn’t even know this was available, we didn’t know he was going to be presented, we would have liked to have been there to say, ‘yes this guy is great you’re gonna love him he’s gonna be awesome for the city’” French said. “So I think that does the candidate a disservice as well as the people that we’re here to serve.”
However, French agreed that how Illg was selected is fact legal under the city’s charter, stating that in his opinion it would be a good idea to discuss potentially adjusting the charter to improve the guidelines for appointments.
“At a bare minimum I would have liked to have seen this gentleman’s name reflected in our agenda packet that would be available for everyone to see,” French said. “From a public perspective it looks, I don’t wanna say underhanded, but it seems unusual … I think we can all agree there’s always room for improvement.”
City Attorney Kevin Tallant addressed French’s concerns, explaining that to change the city’s charter would involve going through the General Assembly.
“I’ve worked with the city of Dawsonville through at least four different appointments, one of a mayor and three of council members, and the process that was followed here has been consistent with the process that’s always been followed,” Tallant said. “The charter was followed — I‘m incredibly confident with that — Mr. Illg is incredibly qualified under the terms of the charter to fill the seat.”
After council members voted to appoint Illg to the seat, the new council member came forward, along with his wife Cassie and his five-year-old son Beckett to be sworn into office.
Following his official swearing-in, Illg immediately took up his new office for the remainder of the council meeting.