John R. Rust, 69, will be sworn into office Thursday night, along with Sandy McGrew and Bill Grant, to replace three retiring councilmen.
Rust, who beat out Farris Yawn in a runoff Dec. 3 to replace Councilman John Beresford, said he decided to go for the seat partly to improve the city by helping end the heated disagreements he’s sometimes watched over the last few years.
“Sitting in the audience was painful,” said Rust, 69. “When it became pretty clear that we had a shot at really changing the council to make it more civil and functional and get things done, then it became far more interesting to me to be a part of it.”
With McGrew, Grant and the other sitting members on the city council, Rust said he sees better days ahead.
“I don’t think — I know — it will be a lot better,” he said. “These are people that I like, and my friendship and love for these people really transcends the council. I don’t think we can agree on everything, that’s healthy. At the end of the day, we’re going to get things done.”
Rust, a native of Eau Claire, Wis., moved to Canton with his wife, Linda, about nine years ago to be closer to their two sons, who had moved near Atlanta.
Since then, he has served on committees to update the city’s charter and unified code, along with being chosen as chairman of the Commission on Canton’s Future.
Rust said his roles with the other boards also spurred him on to run for the city council, as any real changes or improvements to Canton must go through the council.
“At the end of the day, you have to present your work to the council to accept or reject,” Rust said. “If you want to really get something done, you’ve got to be (on the council).”
Now that he will soon be in that position, Rust said he plans to take up tasks like infrastructure and making sure the taxpayers get the most bang for their buck.
“Taxpayer wasted money is really, really terrible,” he said. “I don’t like taxes. I don’t think anybody should like taxes, but it’s a part of our city. You have to make sure you take the absolute minimum and use it to the absolute maximum. Any inefficiency in that process is not acceptable.”
Rust said another point of consideration for the council should be the fire department, which some have suggested merging with that of Cherokee County.
“I’m not finding fault with (Canton’s public safety workers) at all. They’re great people, they’ve done a great job,” Rust said. “That being said, the fire department needs one to two new fire stations.”
How exactly Canton should accomplish building those stations, Rust said he didn’t yet know, but he wants to look at the options.
“People labeled me with wanting to merge the city and the county. I don’t know if that’s the best option,” he said. “When I see all the facts, then I’ll make the decision. The thing we have to do as a council is address the issue and not have it drag out for two more years.”