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Incumbent Powell faces challenger Moon in District 2 race
Candidates focus on fiscal issues
COMMISSION.Eugene Moon
Eugene Moon

Hall County Board of Commissioners District 2

Eugene Moon
Age: 44
Occupation: Marketing manager for The Lincoln Electric Co.
Website: www.vote4moon.com
Political experience: Past chairman of Congressional Liberty Council for U.S. Rep. Tom Graves; past president of Hall County Citizens for Efficient Government; past chairman of Fork Road voting precinct, Hall County Republican Party; former congressional candidate, 2010
Education: Johnson High School, Gainesville College and Lanier Technical College
Family information: Wife, Rose Moon, three daughters, Abigail, Jade and Savannah
District history: I’m a lifelong resident of Hall County, and have worked here in Hall County for 25 years with the Lincoln Electric Co., the world’s largest manufacturer of welding equipment, with varying roles in engineering, sales and marketing. My family and I are members of Lanier Hills Church. My family is very active in the community we live in. Along with my family we formed project JOY (Jesus, Others, Yourself) several years ago. Each year we, with support from the local community, feed over 500 residents, and the Meals on Wheels recipients Thanksgiving dinner.

Billy Powell
Age: 55
Occupation: Commercial real estate
Website: www.powell4hallcounty.com
Political experience: First elected in 2004, re-elected in 2008, now serving eighth year as Hall County commissioner for District 2 and current vice chairman. Achieved Association County Commissioners of Georgia certification in 2011.
Education: Gainesville High School, 1975; Southern Tech, 1978, degree in industrial engineering and associate degree in management.
Family information: Wife, Helen of 35 years, daughters, Carolyn and Molly, son, Will
District history: We have owned our home and have lived in the district for almost 20 years. All three of my children graduated from Hall County public schools. Past president of the Timber Walk Home Owners Association, Members of Gainesville First United Methodist Church where I chaired the golf tournament fundraiser for the church’s annual Great Day of Service, exceeding the financial goal by 50 percent. High school wrestling official with All South Wrestling Official Association.

One candidate’s political accomplishment is another’s example of excessive government.

As local businessman Eugene Moon challenges incumbent Billy Powell for the Hall County Board of Commissioners District 2 post in the July 31 Republican primary, each candidate paints his own picture on the meaning of Powell’s eight-year record in office.

The challenger is trying to chip at the notion that Powell is a fiscal conservative.

As a commissioner for two terms, Powell, who is 55, is offering his record of no tax increases, his efforts in the construction of the new county jail and new parks and his role in moving county departments into the old Liberty Mutual Building as evidence of his leadership.

“One of the major accomplishments that I’ve been heavily involved with is the new jail,” he said.

That jail was opened in 2007. Powell said he was responsible for regularly meeting with contractors to help ensure the $54 million jail was built on time and on budget.

Powell was also involved with negotiations that led to the sale of the old county jail to the city of Gainesville.
Meanwhile, the 44-year-old Moon is attacking some of those efforts, calling them a record of expanding government during a recession.

“He crows about all of his accomplishments. The things he talks about when he’s out stumping are all of the things he’s built in Hall County,” said Moon, with a sarcastic edge to the word “built.”

“What he is talking about is how he has grown government.”

Moon is running on a platform of reducing spending.

“What I want to do is right-size Hall County government,” he said.

Moon said those efforts would put Hall’s economic outlook back on track.

“When you stop government waste, the economy will grow,” he said.

Part of that effort would be to halt plans to build the Glades Reservoir, which Moon calls “a big expense on the taxpayers for Hall County.”

Instead of completing the project, which Powell advocates, Moon proposes the county stop after obtaining a permit for the project from the Army Corps of Engineers.

“We need to recoup the money we have already spent,” Moon said, proposing selling off the timber on the property and offering water rights to a private company if the county gets the reservoir permit.

Powell, on the other hand, said he is skeptical the county would be able to recoup the roughly $12 million already spent so far without completing the project.

“I don’t consider it a loss; I consider it an investment,” he said.

However, the commissioner said the county will have to look at the scale of the project once the permits are obtained.

In addition to cutting future projects, Moon said he would also support reducing the number of county employees.

At this point, he said he’s not sure how many fewer government employees there should be, but his first priority as commissioner would be to protect public safety.

“My job as county commissioner (would be) to make sure the people of Hall County are safe,” he said. “That’s my No. 1 job.”

Moon points out that several parks were built during the recent economic downturn, while two fire stations scheduled to be built have been put off.

“We have been promised fire stations and have been given baseball fields,” Moon said.

Moon also criticized the practice of putting sheriff’s deputies and firefighters on furlough as putting “citizens at risk.”

He also charges that the county’s most recent budget was a political stunt, particularly when it came to reducing employee furlough days to three from 12.

Moon said the county’s projections to justify that change may be overly optimistic about the economy, and it’s still unclear if the county will be able to afford it.

“That’s like promising a kid a trip to Disney World, and you don’t have a dime in your pocket,” he said.

Powell shrugs off that claim, arguing that the projections were made by county staff and are based on revenue increases the county has already seen.

“The employees had furloughs for five years,” Powell said. “It is time to give back to them.”

But Powell said he won’t leave it at that. He and other commissioners have requested quarterly budget updates to look at what the county is collecting and spending.

“We can make adjustments if revenues aren’t as projected,” Powell said.

Powell defends the postponement of the new fire stations by pointing out that the operating costs of adding new firefighters were not feasible a few years ago. Plans are under way now to start the process for construction.

As for the other projects Moon criticizes, Powell points out most of those were voted for and approved by county taxpayers.

“It’s easy to criticize from the outside,” he said of his opponent. “I’ve proven through my eight years of no tax increases that I am a conservative and I will continue on that path.”

Powell said his biggest asset is his experience on the job, whereas Moon has not been elected to office yet.

The commissioner’s political experience is what’s good for economic growth, he said.

“It’s about government stability,” Powell said, “especially when it comes to attracting businesses in this community.”

District 2 includes Oakwood, East Hall and portions in the Gainesville city limits. Only voters living in district boundaries can cast their ballot on the race.

With no Democrat running, the winner of the July 31 primary will presumably be the next commissioner.

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