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Businessman, retired poultry exec face off in Clermont race
Candidates speak out on alcohol sales, development

One of Clermont’s most prickly issues — whether to allow alcohol sales — is seemingly a non-issue as the Town Council in August basically rejected the idea of a nonbinding public vote.

But if it does rear its head again, Clermont’s candidates in the Nov. 3 election to fill an at-large seat on the council know where they stand.

“I don’t see anything wrong with it on the business corridor,” self-employed businessman Jimmy McDonald said. “I think it would draw more restaurants and stuff in our area.

“As far as me voting for it (personally), I don’t know if I would, but I would put it to a vote for the people to vote on it.”

Town Councilman John Brady tried that in August, seeking for council to consider holding a nonbinding vote on beer and wine package sales along U.S. 129/Cleveland Highway running through town.

The motion promptly died for the lack of a second by another council member.

“It’s going to keep coming up (as an issue),” McDonald said. “All the businesses down (there) feel like they’re getting short-changed because people (outside the city) can sell it.”

Joe McGoogan, a retired poultry company manager, sees alcohol sales as an issue that’s not getting any political or popular traction in town — and that’s fine by him.

“It’s come up two different times and been soundly voted down both times by the council,” he said. “A majority of the people who have been (at those meetings) have been opposed to it.”

As for himself, McGoogan said, “I spoke in opposition to it when it was before the council, and that’s still my position.”

An issue that arose from the council’s discussion on alcohol was the town’s identity — how it should view itself as the rest of Hall County continues to grow.

The North Hall town, filling a rural gap between Gainesville and Cleveland, lies amid pastures, sprawling lawns and quaint homes and has a sparse amount of businesses, with many of those off U.S. 129.

McGoogan sees Clermont as a haven for both longtime residents and commuters who see the town’s slow pace as a break from the rat race elsewhere.

“They like the sidewalks and the people jogging, families just visiting or talking,” said McGoogan, whose work took him to several Southeastern states to live. “This is more like a family setting.”

McDonald said he would like to see more businesses in Clermont and, as a result, more jobs.

“Now, as far as a lot of big subdivisions, I don’t really want to see all of that come here,” he said. “Small ones — no problem.”

McDonald said he also has no problem with commercial development on U.S. 129.

Seth Weaver is unopposed as the other at-large candidate, as the town goes to a ward system, where council members still would be elected at large but four of the five council members would have to live in specific voting wards.


Early voting

Where: Hall County Board of Elections and Registrars, lower level, Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville

When: Starting Monday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday

Also: Voters may cast ballots 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 24 at at the North Hall Community Center, 4175 Nopone Road, or Spout Springs Library, 6488 Spout Springs Road, Flowery Branch.

Contact: 770-531-6945


Election Day voting

Where: Concord Baptist Church, 640 Main St.

When: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 3


Joe McGoogan

Age: 71

Family: He and wife Carolyn have three children and three grandchildren.

Occupation: Retired. Worked many years as plant operations manager and division manager for Con Agra, Perdue and other poultry processors.

Education: Southern State College and LSU, as well as classes at other schools while moving with job.


What makes you qualified to serve on the Town Council?

“l have lot of experience in working with people to solve problems, along with understanding budgets and staying within the confines of set plans that are laid out prior to the beginning of each year. I have put together and operated within budgets as large as $200 million for a given year and have also had responsibility for operations with very small budgets. That being said, I am running … because I care about where we live.”


What are your goals if elected?

“Do what is morally right and represent the views and wishes of the majority of the people that would have voted for me. Also, continue for Clermont to be a place where people can visit on sidewalks, walk as a family, jog to work off a few pounds or practice a longer run for a fundraiser.”



Jimmy McDonald

Age: 53

Family: Mother is Lenora Woody.

Occupation: Self-employed

Education: Highest grade completed was 11th grade


What makes you qualified to serve on the Town Council?

“I have lived in Clermont for 41 years and downtown since 1990.”


What are your goals if elected?

“Still keep Clermont as a small town and not let Hall County take over with their rules.”