The outcome of many of Tuesday’s elections in Northwest Georgia, not unlike what swept America, was that voters wanted change in local leadership.
Catoosa and Dade counties were good examples.
Newcomer Keith Greene will become Catoosa County Commission chairman and in Dade County, Ted Rumley, a former commissioner, will step into the county executive’s shoes.
Both the me are Republicans who defeated primary competition before going on to top Democratic opponents in the general election.
Both men said they already are preparing for the challenges they face, from keeping up roads and bridges to recruiting jobs from Europe.
Mr. Rumley, who served as the county manager in 2004, is working with outgoing County Executive Ben Brandon on the budget, which must be adopted by Jan. 1, according to state law.
Mr. Greene is at work identifying the resources in the county that will help with job recruitment and economic development, which are among his top priorities.
Economic development also is a concern for Mr. Rumley. He said Dade County’s general operating budget has increased by $2 million over the past two years, but the cost of operating the county has grown even more.
The revenue stream is about to take another hit when the county’s largest employer, Trenton Spinning Mills, idles 440 workers by Thanksgiving. The challenge will be to plan growth that benefits the county without changing what is unique about it, he said.
“This is a special place and we need to keep it that way,” Mr. Rumley said. “I’m for growth but not the wrong kind of growth. People move here (from all over the country), and they move here for a reason. We can’t start changing just to change.”
Catoosa County faces similar problems with the closing of a Mohawk Industries plant, which will lay off nearly 200 employees in Fort Oglethorpe at the end of this month.
“We have to offset the decline in revenues,” Mr. Greene, 44, said.
Mr. Greene, a military service veteran who is an engineer at Roper Corp. in LaFayette, said a priority should be recruiting new industry to Catoosa County, which is starved by a residential tax base.
“The county is not in the position right now to purchase property nor does it have land readily available for recruiting industries and businesses,” he said. “We need to work with local developers to see what types of privately owned land is available, with sewers, properly zoned so we can have some options to go out and say, ‘This is what the private sector has, and we’d like you to relocate to Catoosa County,’” he said.
Swearing-in ceremonies for Mr. Greene and Mr. Rumley will be held in January.