After each serving eight years on the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners, Hubbard and District 3 Commissioner Karen Bosch will attend their last commission meeting Tuesday.
The commissioners sat down with the Cherokee Tribune to reflect on what they’ve done during their time in office and what they see for the county’s future.
Hubbard has lived in Cherokee County for 47 years after moving to Canton as a teenager from Decatur.
“I visited the little Methodist church on the corner, two years later I married one of the girls there, and the next year we bought a house in Hickory Flat,” he said.
Hubbard cited the construction of the county administration building in The Bluffs as one of the board’s best accomplishments over the last eight years.
The building is silver LEED certified for green building practices and energy efficiency.
“We started that before we moved the first shovel of dirt,” Hubbard said. “It’s a very efficient building.”
Other highlights Hubbard pointed out include the expansion of the county’s airport, the development of The Bluffs, improvements to the county’s parks and the construction of a county aquatic center, set to open in May.
“In spite of criticism, (the aquatic center) is going to be a landmark. It’s going to draw people in, and it will be very, very useful to the local swim teams,” he said, adding that fees from leisure pool usage are expected to pay for year-round operations.
During his time on the commission, Hubbard said he enjoyed helping constituents navigate the process of working with the county for things like building permits or road repairs.
“A lot of people felt free to call me, and I was able to get them to the right person,” Hubbard said.
Hubbard said the county staff has been “excellent” during his time as a commissioner.
“(County manager) Mr. (Jerry) Cooper has been wonderful. I’ve never known anybody that can handle money like him,” Hubbard said.
The county’s biggest challenges evolved as the county changed during his eight-year tenure, Hubbard said.
“The first four years, it was growth. There were attempts at totally unbridled, uncontrolled growth, which is really why I ran for office,” he said. Hubbard has been a proponent of slow growth for the county.
“You would have a 100-acre farm where someone wanted to put five or six homes per acre, and then the county was stuck building the support for that,” he said.
After the economy turned downward, Hubbard said the new challenge was to maintain services while cutting expenditures.
“People stand up and say ‘Cut 5 percent.’ That would take deputies off the street. That would take firefighters off the street,” he said.
Almost three-fourths of the county’s operating budget is spent on public safety.
“That other 25 percent would have to be cut by 80 percent. We’ve got to be able to do things like provide inspections in a reasonable time,” he said.
Another major issue facing the county is fallout from the failed Ball Ground Recycling deal, according to Hubbard.
“It seemed like a good idea. We were getting expert advice about how secure this was,” he said.
Hubbard lost his bid for a third term this summer, when he was defeated by Ray Gunnin in a runoff after the July primary. Hubbard said many of his supporters were “happy enough” and didn’t turn up to vote in the runoff. The commission post was the only race that went to runoff.
Hubbard said he isn’t sure whether he’ll run for office again in the future.
“I would not hesitate to run, but this campaign was stressful for me and my family. There’s also health to think about,” he said.
Hubbard hopes to spend some time reviving his telecommunications business, which he said has fallen off during his time in office.
“The emotional time has taken even more of a toll on that, especially with all the criticism that goes on. You can’t take that and then turn around and make sales calls,” he said.
He plans to also continue community service through Canton-Cherokee Triad and Seniors and Law Enforcement Together, and through other volunteer organizations. He is also a volunteer firefighter.
“There have been a lot of good times as a commissioner. I enjoy helping the people, recognizing kids, going to ribbon-cuttings,” he said.