Gregg Poole, an electrical engineer and Baptist preacher in East Hall, ran to be a county commissioner, because he said his community lacked fervent leaders who would make a difference.
“I really think we lack individual leaders that are passionate about being a servant for people and not taking ‘no’ and kind of being offended when somebody says you can’t do something,” Poole said.
Poole won the Republican nomination for county commission District 3 Tuesday, June 21, with 60% of the vote in a runoff against David Gibbs in a comeback victory. Gibbs led in the primary race on May 24 with 42% of the vote in a field of four challengers, and Poole came in second with 30%, leading to the runoff.
With no Democratic opposition ahead in the fall, Poole is set to fill Commissioner Shelly Echols’ seat at the start of 2023 after she chose to run for state Senate District 49.
Poole, 53, owns and operates J&G Contracting, an electrical engineering contractor in midtown Gainesville and grew up in East Hall between Gillsville and Lula.
“I think everybody gets to a point in their life where they say, ‘If I'm going to make a difference in anything it’s going to be now,’” he said of his decision to run.
Poole has also pastored at Baptist churches in the area, including Wauka Mountain Baptist Church, Antioch Baptist and Diamond Hill Baptist.
“Being a Baptist preacher, you want to show people you can do things like this and be a Christian and put the Lord first in your life, and be awesome funny too,” Poole said. “You can have a great sense of humor.”
Poole has talked with residents and business owners in the Tadmore area in East Hall, and he wants to see more resources and attention paid to it, he said. Residents have told him that litter has been an issue and some want a greater police presence, he said.
“Hall County, they’re probably stretched… the deputies, all of it,” Poole said. “But there’s got to be a better way. And to say, ‘Well this is the best we can do’ — that’s a chicken crap way out, and that ain’t going to fly.”
His district, which covers North and East Hall, could become one of the hottest areas for growth and development soon, he said. The Ga. 365 corridor has big developments already planned such as a new Kubota facility and the Northeast Georgia Inland Port.
“I think it’s fixing to be the hottest zone in North Georgia,” he said. “When you have that many jobs and industries coming through there, you have to think: ‘Where are they going to live?’ They don’t want to drive 50 minutes to their job.”
His first job out of high school was working construction at Northeast Georgia Medical Center, where he worked for 18 years, learning how to do electrical engineering work like wiring medical equipment. He started his own firm in 2005, and he still works with the hospital, he said.
The county should continue to support the hospital, he said, particularly any mental health and addiction services it can provide for homeless people. Gainesville’s homeless population has increased sixfold over the past three years, according to a 2022 estimate.
“Mental illness and drug addiction is one of the key things that is going on in this country and I’m telling you I’ve seen that and I’m passionate about it,” Poole said.