Former Hall County Commissioner Steve Gailey will run for the chairman’s post on the board in 2016.
“I just had a lot of people calling me and contacting me over the last few months about running,” he told The Times.
Gailey previously served two terms as the District 3 representative.
“I’m glad to see somebody stepping forward, No. 1, that I know to be a good Republican,” said Debra Pilgrim, chair of the Hall County Republican Party. “Ultimately, it is my job to support all of our Republican candidates.”
Gailey, a Clermont resident, said he was encouraged to jump back into local politics after recent statements by Chairman Richard Mecum supporting new spending initiatives and tax hikes.
“I think that upset a lot of people in the Republican Party,” Gailey said, adding that “true, hard conservative Republicans” and “several business people” had already shown support for his candidacy.
Mecum said he has heard that other candidates may also be interested in his chairman’s seat, and he admits that he has no desire at this time to seek re-election.
“It was never my intention to ever do it again,” Mecum said. “The whole idea was to go in and get some things corrected. I almost didn’t do it to begin with.”
Mecum said he wants to finish a few big-ticket items before he leaves office, but is relatively satisfied with helping get the county’s budget in line, despite some recent setbacks.
“I think we’ve made several inroads,” he said. “But we can’t continue to look at Hall County as a small county.”
Taxes are Gailey’s bread and butter, and he said he’s intent on generating new revenues for the county to handle new growth without asking residents and business owners to open their wallets.
“I think we’ve got to depend on the growth of the county, not raising taxes,” Gailey said, adding that luring businesses to the Interstate 985 corridor is critical to expanding the tax base.
Gailey said managing growth begins with understanding the needs and desires of county residents, and he supports nonbinding resolutions that gauge public interest on spending priorities and local government projects.
“Hall County has the opportunity every two years to poll the citizens of the county on the issues ...” Gailey said. “We need to be doing that more often.”