WOODSTOCK — Woodstock funeral home manager Brian Poole said he initially thought about running for county coroner but settled on the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners.
Poole is relatively new to the county but he has already dived into local politics by winning the election to the commission through the Republican primary. After he and his family settled in Cherokee 15 months ago, he said talking to neighbors, co-workers and others convinced him to run for the open District 3 seat.
“They suggested that I run for county commissioner,” said Poole, 38. “I originally thought about running for coroner but backed out of that because I hadn’t lived here long enough to meet the requirements.”
On July 31, Poole defeated Chris Hampton, a member of the Cherokee Recreation and Parks Advisory Board, during the primary election to win the post now held by Commissioner Karen Bosch, who decided not to seek re-election. He faces no opponent in November.
In January, jobs will be high on his radar when he is sworn in to the five-member commission, said Poole. Cherokee’s jobless rate currently stands at 7.5 percent.
“Right now we’re struggling and still in a bad recession,” he said. “I want to work with the economic development team and current commissioners now to see what we can do about bringing some new jobs to Cherokee County.”
Getting people back to work will also help reduce the amount of foreclosures, he said. Foreclosures in the county have increased by 22 percent, according to the latest data. There are 345 properties advertised for next month’s auction.
“Just getting people here back to work starts the cycle of money in every direction — sales tax and property tax — everything starts with jobs,” Poole said. “That’s something we don’t have right now and something we need in Cherokee County. I think all of the commissioners would agree with that as well.”
Healing the commission’s relationship with the general public is also needed, in light of the Bobo affair involving recycling owner Jimmy Bobo’s failure to repay a multi-million dollar loan guaranteed by the county, said Poole. Poole described it as a “bad deal” and said he agrees with a grand jury’s recommendation for a complete forensic audit.
“I think there’s a lot of hostility toward each other right now,” Poole said. “I’d like to see us all work together and get this county moving back in the right direction.”
With TSPLOST — a proposed 1-cent sales tax to fund transportation projects off the table — Poole said local leaders will need to work closely with the county’s delegation in the General Assembly to see “what kind of help we can get from the state of Georgia on transportation.”
The Little River Bridge and Highway 140 need to be addressed as soon as possible, he said. Nevertheless, Poole said he would be against the idea of raising taxes to fund projects.
Poole grew up in Dothan, Ala., located in the southeastern part of the state, which he said makes him an Auburn University football fan.
However, he said he attended kindergarten at the old Woodstock Elementary School and mortuary school in Decatur. He is employed as a manager at Woodstock Funeral Home.
As a funeral home manager, Poole said his work has prepared him to listen to people’s needs and help them make the right decisions. During the campaign, he promised to conduct regular town hall meetings to keep his constituents updated on issues.
“Some politicians tend to forget about the people who put them there,” he said.
“I’ve been in the funeral business for 20 years and I deal with people every day — probably not during the best times of their lives but I got out and knocked on doors when I was campaigning, met a lot of good people, and just felt like I had a lot of good connections with people I met.”
Poole and his wife of 11 years, Amy, have two daughters, 5-year-old Olivia and 2-year-old Ava. They are members of the First Baptist Church of Woodstock.
Despite rumors during the campaign of the likelihood of his company — which is owned by a larger network of funeral homes — transferring him, Poole said he is here to stay for a very long time in Cherokee.
“We don’t plan on moving anywhere,” he said. “Woodstock is going to be our home now.”