Woodstock residents Kenneth Scott Gordon, Larry Singleton and Joseph Robert are competing in the May 20 primary for the seat being vacated by Commissioner Jason Nelms, who decided against seeking a second term in office.
For Singleton, a former Cherokee commissioner, District 4’s most significant challenge is residents don’t get a solid enough return on their investment in taxes to the county.
“Over the last decade, I have been disappointed by the lack of attention paid to south Cherokee in comparison to the rest of the county,” said Singleton, 55, who heads a real estate appraisal business. “I will be the strong voice that south Cherokee needs to stand up for fairness in comparison to the taxes paid and generated in District 4.”
Robert said the biggest problem is transportation, particularly because the vast majority of residents have to travel out of the county to work every day, costing them money and time with their families.
“I will work with our county residents, state delegation and DOT to find the best road improvements for long and short term use. What we can do now for fast, immediate results is cut the costs in time and red tape it takes to start and maintain a small business in this county, which will create more jobs and reduce the number of residents that must commute,” said Robert, a 52-year-old, who owns an automotive repair shop.
Gordon, a 47-year-old architect, said many of District 4’s issues are connected to the slow recovery in the economy after the Great Recession, which left behind decreased home values, failed businesses and foreclosures.
“As county commissioner, I will promote policies that will continue to keep the county’s tax burden low while maintaining the service we enjoy,” added Gordon, a member of the Woodstock Planning Commission. “This directly helps businesses, individuals and families in District 4 stretch every dollar and receive the essential services they need as the economy continues to recover.”
Encouraging economic development
When it comes to how to bring economic development to the district, while keeping quality of life in mind, the candidates also offered somewhat different takes.
Gordon said he’d work to eliminate policies impeding the growth of the county’s existing businesses, to encourage new businesses large and small.
“New jobs create new opportunities that help reduce the tax burden on individuals and families,” he said. “In District 4, our neighborhoods are award-winning and our schools’ SAT scores are among the highest in the state. We offer a wide variety of places to worship, and our recreational opportunities, especially as it relates to trails and greenways, are world-class.”
Robert said small business needs to be incentivized.
“Allowing more appropriate signage and zoning, reviewing all land use and other policies that are hampering small business growth would make Cherokee County a more favorable place to start a business, which increases the number of jobs available to our commuting residents,” he said, adding commuting can cause stress, potentially leading to medical costs.
Singleton said one thing Cherokee County needs to do is take its “awesome reasons to locate a business” here to the people who locate businesses in the first place.
“And these individuals belong to a networking group called Corenet Global,” he said, adding the group has thousands of members, including a high number of Fortune 100 companies. “Corenet Global is the world’s leading association for corporate real estate professionals, service providers and economic developers, and we are not a member.”
Adding up qualifications
The candidates were asked what made them the best contender for the job.
Robert pointed to his 18 years growing his small business — the mechanic shop — and seeing the problems and sacrifices families face, as well as the costs and burdens the county puts on small business.
“I will treat taxpayers’ money as real people’s money,” he added. “I am not one of the creators of the land use and zoning plans we all must live by. I will bring a new voice and a new perspective and a new outlook to the commission. I will always have the people’s best interests at heart. I have always been an active member of the community and will continue to do so.”
Singleton said when he was on the commission from 1999 to 2003, the county took care of the District 4 area, while still managing growth and rolling back the millage rate every year. He said he’s also known for being “responsive and accountable” to not only his district but the county at large.
“I am the strong representative that south Cherokee needs,” he said. “I seek input from all stakeholders before voting on important issues. I am accessible. I return calls. I listen. South Cherokee deserves a strong voice on the Board of Commissioners, and I am that voice.”
Gordon said he had the education, leadership skills and experience from his 24 years as an architect to use to the county’s benefit in terms “the planning and delivery of development practices, operations, facilities, roads, recreation, social and public safety services for our county.”
“I will draw from the professional experience I have gained from working with businesses, educational institutions, cities and counties throughout Georgia and the United States,” he said, adding: “My home, church, practice, favorite trails and the public schools my two young daughters attend are all in Cherokee County. My family and I have a deeply vested interest in what happens here.”