After backing out of the race for chairman of Hall County’s Board of Commissioners and endorsing Richard “Dick” Mecum, former North Hall Commissioner Steve Gailey is back in.
Gailey, who was seen campaigning at a South Hall Republican Club meeting earlier this week, said he was convinced to continue his bid for the post currently held by Tom Oliver.
Oliver is seeking re-election to a third term as Hall commission chairman. Mecum, a former U.S. marshal and Hall County sheriff, has been actively campaigning for the seat since November.
Qualifying for all local, statewide and congressional races up for election this year is next week.
Gailey, who announced his original intentions in September 2011, was contacted by The Times in April for a story on campaign fundraising.
At the time, he said he’d changed his mind about the campaign and was considering a move to Florida.
Gailey also expressed support for Mecum.
This week, Gailey said he’d changed his mind.
“I’m not seeing anybody out there saying anything that I like what I’m hearing,” Gailey said.
Gailey said he had no hard feelings toward Mecum but that he was persuaded to continue campaigning.
“There were just a lot of people that called me and said ‘you know, you need to run,’” Gailey said over the phone Wednesday.
And though he said he would like to move to Florida some day, Gailey said he has no plans to make the move in the near future.
Gailey expressed concerns about the county’s budget, and said he was skeptical that the county could sustainably eliminate employee furloughs and return money to employee retirement accounts without raising property tax rates.
“Most of the stuff that’s been going on at the (candidate) forums ... everything has been based around employee furlough days, morale of county employees and that kind of stuff,” Gailey said. “Right now, from what I can see, is how is that going to be paid for? There’s not but one way you’ve got to pay for it.”
Gailey said he is against an increase in the millage rates, which Oliver supported in 2011, but supports continued cuts to county spending that will, in part, restore money to the county’s reserve accounts.
He said the county’s reserves would have to be restored before county officials could consider eliminating furloughs.
“We’ve got to hunker down, and I’m not seeing ‘hunker down,’” Gailey said of the budget.
“I think we’ve got to be extremely, extremely cautious over the next few years to see if there’s going to be a turnaround (in the economy and revenues).”