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Ex-sheriff, 8-year incumbent squaring off for chairmans race
Mecum earned 46 percent while Oliver had 34 percent in primary
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Hall County Board of Commissioners Chairman

Dick Mecum
Age: 71
Occupation: Retired after 35 years in law enforcement
Political experience: Elected sheriff of Hall County three terms, 1980, 1984, 1988; appointed by President George W. Bush as U.S. marshal, confirmed by U.S. Senate, 2002.
Education: University of Georgia, Bachelor of Business Administration in management, accounting, 1977; Brenau University, Master of Public Administration in management, accounting, 1986
Family: Wife, Judy; eight children
District history: Gainesville Kiwanis, Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce-Leadership Hall County, Lakewood Baptist Church, deacon, Sunday school teacher

Tom Oliver
Age: 64
Occupation: Poultry and cattle farmer
Political experience: South Hall commissioner, vice chairman, 1991-94; Hall County Board of Commissioners chairman, 2005 to present
Education: Gainesville High School, 1965; Mercer University, 1969
Family: Wife, Sally; three children
District history: Lifelong resident of Chestnut Mountain. Poultry/cattle business since 1971. Member of Hall County Farm Bureau, charter member of South Hall Rotary Club, Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning Commission Board, Georgia Egg Commission, Angus Cattle Board, Chestnut Mountain Presbyterian Church. Vietnam veteran attached to 82nd Airborne Division.

A former Hall County sheriff is trying to return to public service and an eight-year incumbent is trying to preserve his job as chairman of the Hall County Board of Commissioners.

The future of the office will be decided in Tuesday’s runoff election.

Dick Mecum and Tom Oliver emerged from the July 31 Republican primary still vying for the job, which carries a four-year term and an approximate $33,000 in pay.

The chairman post is elected by the county at-large. His responsibility is to run commission meetings and work sessions; he is also a voting member of the board.

Mecum, who was sheriff from 1981-1992 and later served as a U.S. marshal, said he was inspired to run for office largely based on years of seeing Hall stalling out when it came to economic progress, especially as growth crept northward from metro Atlanta.

“Hall County has everything going for it, but it has not prepared itself to take advantage of the current situation, which I think is sad,” he said.

Mecum said he also is bothered by Hall government’s financial state.

“While it’s not terrible, it’s bad,” he said. “I think that has to be remedied. There has to be a much more conservative style of management. That’s why I got into (the race). Otherwise, I would have left it alone and gone on.”

Oliver said he is seeking a new term to finish work that’s in progress.

“We’ve been very fortunate that we’ve run a lot of infrastructure in the south end of the county, and I’m excited about the opportunity ... to run some infrastructure up the north end through Ga. 365,” he said.

Also, he said he would like to see the 850-acre Glades Reservoir project “to completion and to the permitting process.”

“I just think consistency will be the secret to getting that (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) permit, and I think I offer that consistency,” Oliver said.

He also believes his past business experience is a help in the job.

“The business community is what allows the rest of the community to develop, and that’s part of the reason I (sought another term) — my background in business and having lived here all my life,” Oliver said.
Mecum said, if elected, he would like to see Hall go to a county manager style of government from a

county administrator one.
“It changes the way things are done in the county, from the standpoint of it begins to remove the

county commissioners from the old style of government, of when the county commissioners are micromanaging the operations of the county,” he said.

In that new style, the commission would serve more as “overseers” in government, Mecum said.

“Government management, while it is similar to business, is also a lot different,” he added. “People say they want government run like a business, but really, when you study government management, it’s a lot different. Some of the things you do in business, you can’t get away with in government.”

Oliver said that, in addition to seeing through the Glades permitting, he would like to see “some industrial jobs created” in the Ga. 365 corridor of northeast Hall.

Also, “I would like to take the rest of the furloughs off and put total retirement back in” for county employees, he said.

Other goals include keeping the county’s tax rate the same and “working on giving the employees a raise,” Oliver said.

He went on to add: “I’ll be 65 years old this week and this would be my last term if I’m re-elected. I think we need some younger people involved (in government) — people with vision and the ability to move the county forward.”

In the July 31 primary, Mecum earned 46 percent of the vote, while Oliver had 34 percent. Former North Hall commissioner Steve Gailey earned enough votes to force the runoff.

Mecum said he “feels good” about the prospects for victory, given that margin and being just a few percentage points from winning outright July 31, “but you never know, you never can tell until election day, and then that kind of tells the story.”

In the meantime, “we’re doing everything that we possibly can do to get our voters out, to win the election and move forward.”

Oliver said he believed he was an underdog in the July 31 election because of the anti-incumbent, anti-tax sentiment among voters.

His belief is those who voted specifically against the transportation sales tax referendum, or T-SPLOST, may not return to the polls.

“In a runoff, people are going to vote for someone, not vote anti-anyone,” he said.

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