DAHLONEGA, Ga. – A standing-room-only crowd elbowed its way into the Lumpkin County Parks and Recreation Building Tuesday to hear 13 candidates make a case for why they should be elected to city council or mayor.
The event was hosted by the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Chamber of Commerce and Dahlonega Women’s Club. County Commission Chairman Chris Dockery served as the event’s moderator.
The mayoral candidates are Sam Norton, Michael Clemons and Rajpal Sagoo. Norton and Clements are city council members.
Sagoo is in the Army Reserves where he is trained in chemical and biological warfare. He told the audience he has introduced a six-point Economic Resurgence Plan for the city and he asked the audience to challenge his opponents to present their own plan.
Clemons pointed to his experience in government and business expertise as reasons he should be elected mayor. He has owned a local business for 25 years and served on city council for 15.
Norton, a business man who owns three local businesses, said, “I don’t want to change Dahlonega. You will hear from some of the other candidates about how we’re doing things all wrong but we win a lot of awards because we do a lot of things right.”
POST 1 CANDIDATES
The candidates for City Council Post 1 were Roman Gaddis and Johnny Ariemma, who described himself as a perennial candidate who has never won election.
Gaddis is the Executive Director of Technology for Dawson County School System and a lifelong resident of Dahlonega. He served three years on the Historic Preservation Commission and said he feels no one on city council represents people like him who have lived here their whole life. He wants to provide a voice for them.
Ariemma presented a long list of issues that prompted him to run, including rising taxes, parking on the square, and lifetime retirement for city council members, which he called “absolute nonsense.” He added that it is important to preserve the city’s history. “It’s why we live here and why we have so many tourists here.”
POST 2 CANDIDATES
Penelope Sharp and Helen Hardman are the candidates in Post 2.
Sharp said she will listen to citizens and take action on their concerns. She includes more accessible, accountable government, increased amenities for children and families and historic preservation as her priorities.
Hardman is experienced in tourism development, having served as the head of the convention and visitors’ bureaus in Helen, Augusta and Gainesville. She is also former chairman of the Southeast Tourism Society and president of Georgia Hospitality Association.
Posts 3 candidates are Wesley Baron, Dewey Moye and Mitchell Ridley
Moye is an educator who served 35 years in Lumpkin County School System, including 12 as superintendent. He wants to implement a business recruiting program to encourage high tech development and involve UNG, Lanier Tech, Lumpkin School System and the Chamber of Commerce to promote economic opportunities for the city.
Ridley said people who complain about water and sewer fees are wrong. He said research showed him it costs $10,625 to dig a well, install a septic system and pay the permit fee outside the city as opposed to $10,765 for water and sewer tap fees in the city.
BARON Is a veteran of the Army National Guard trained in human intelligence collection who chose to make Dahlonega his home. He said he has an economic platform and that paying down the city’s debt was a critical issue that he wants to address.
POST 5 CANDIDATES
The candidates in Post 5 are Alan Roach, Noah Steinberg and Jo Anne Taylor
Roach said he brings 23 years of public service as a sheriff’s deputy to the Post 5 race. He said that his law enforcement experience has helped him take the pulse of the city and that he understands what is important to its citizens.
Steinberg is a retired military officer who served in Iraq and Afghanistan as a medical officer. “I offer service and leadership,” he said. “My motivation is helping others and serving something greater than myself.” He called for transparency and accountability in city government and an end to lifetime retirement benefits for council members.
Taylor worked for IBM for 32 years where she served as Global Vice President of Telecommunications Industry. Her experience includes budgeting, contract negotiations, financial analysis and people management.