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Smith only qualifier for Lula's special election

POSTED: April 14, 2014 12:02 a.m.

Just one person qualified last week for a special election next month to replace Norman Harrop on the Lula City Council.

James Garnett Smith, 69, is the ostensible winner in the nonpartisan race. His plans to knock on doors, meet with community organizations and turn out the vote seem to be for naught.

“I guess I won,” he said.

Outside of a write-in candidate upset, it appears Smith will take over as the city’s Post 4 representative. Harrop retired in March and plans to move to Rhode Island in June to be closer to family. His four-year term was set to end Dec. 31, 2015.

When asked why he chose to run for the open council seat, Smith’s reply was simple.

“I guess just to see if I could help,” he said.

Though he may lack the bona fides of a typical political operative, Smith said his appeal lies in his lifelong residency in the Lula area.

Smith spent 40 years working in the food catering business in Gainesville. Now retired, he resides with his wife of 48 years in a home they’ve owned just as long.

Smith said he regularly attends council meetings and is friendly with many city officials.

He will have his hands full with several issues as Lula, like so many other cities in Hall County, tries to balance growth and development with the quality of life afforded in a small town.

The city is currently looking at redevelopment in its downtown.

Lula officials also face some tough choices, including how to spend its share of special purpose local option sales tax dollars, as well as its role in providing support for sewer infrastructure in key growth corridors.

“Whether people like it or not, growth is coming,” Smith said.


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