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Gillsville City Council Post 1 preview: Phil Ferguson vs. Kody Rylee
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Kody Rylee is running for Gillsville City Council Post 1.

Kody Rylee wants to see better parks in Gillsville, and Phil Ferguson’s focus is on keeping the small town the way it is today.

Rylee’s family has lived in Gillsville for at least six generations, he said, working on their family farm in the city. If elected to the Post 1 seat, he wants to “manage growth but still have a small town feel,” he said. 

“It’s inevitable that it comes; it’s just how we manage it,” Rylee said. 

More traffic could come to the city soon, he said, and the city needs to keep an eye toward the future, mitigating traffic congestion before it gets too bad with Interstate 85 and Highway 365 both near the west Hall County city. 

Kody Rylee

Political experience: none

Occupation: farmer and real estate agent

Top issues: improve parks, maintain small town 

Neighboring cities have better parks than Gillsville has now, he said, and he’d like to give residents better public gathering places and recreation opportunities. He suggested that SPLOST money could be used for such projects. SPLOST is a special option one-penny sales tax cities can use for capital improvements. 

“I’d like to see the city maybe progress into something like that where we have something that people can go to and still have a small town,” he said. 

Currently, too much money goes unused, he said. 

“I never see anything positive for the city done,” Rylee said. “I feel like there’s a lot of money left laying on the table, and I don’t think that the city should be a savings account for citizens with money that doesn’t get used.”

Phil Ferguson said most people in Gillsville know him and know where he stands on issues after living in the city for almost all his life. 

Phil Ferguson

Political experience: none

Occupation: former chicken farmer, electrician

Top issues: stay a small town, improve downtown

“I decided it was time to get involved a little bit more with what was going on around here,” Ferguson said. “There’s a lot of silly things going on in the community, and I thought I could help bring some of it to a close.”

He intended to run against Larry Poole, who currently holds the Post 1 seat. But, during the qualifying period, Poole switched to Post 2 after Rylee and Ferguson qualified for Post 1. In Gillsville, there are no residency restrictions to determine which council seat candidates may run for. 

“Had I known Kody (Rylee) was going to run, I probably wouldn’t even have ran,” Ferguson said. “But I didn’t know that, and I was going to run against Larry Poole.”

He wants to see improvements made to downtown and to ensure that Gillsville remains a small town with things largely staying as they are. He called one area downtown a “boondoggle” where sidewalks are not accessible to people with physical disabilities. 

Ferguson himself doesn’t move as well these days, he said, after several knee surgeries, though he used to work as a chicken farmer and an electrician.

He does not want new, big subdivisions coming to Gillsville any time soon, he said. 

“It’s just a little small town deal and I’d like to be able to keep Gillsville an independent community,” Ferguson said. 

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