Kurt Ward moved to Braselton in 2010, drawn by “the quality and sophistication that was going to come” with certain growth.
“I just really love that Braselton was going to protect itself and not become exactly like other interstate communities,” he said.
But later, he detected some growth trends, such as an influx in rental housing, that “would not distinguish us and keep our standards high.” So, he began a grassroots campaign.
“I felt like I wanted to weigh in on that, and that’s when I started going door to door and started asking people, ‘Do we want more gas stations on (Ga.) 211? Do we want more fast food on 211? Do we want more strip malls? Do we want more rental units?’”
That led eventually to a successful mayoral bid in 2021, defeating incumbent Councilman Hardy Johnson and succeeding Bill Orr, who has served as the town’s mayor since 2010.
Initially, he threw his support behind Jim Joedecke, who was elected to the Town Council in 2019.
“We went through a year and a half of talking to different people about getting further and further involved,” said Ward, who’s a lawyer in estate planning, litigation and general counsel. “Many people looked at getting involved,”
In the end, “I was the one who was sort of asked or suggested” to seek office, he said.
Ward, who is married and has twin sons, decided to run for mayor when Orr chose not to seek re-election.
When Ward begins his four-year term in January, he will be part of a council that has seen much turnover in the past couple of years. He will be joined by two other political newcomers, Richard Harper and James Murphy, who also won decisively in their races.
Just how that will affect the council’s dynamic or the city that’s in four counties — Hall, Gwinnett, Barrow and Jackson — remains to be seen, Ward believes.
“Our goal is to listen to people, see what their perspective is and set policy accordingly,” he said.
“I think Kurt and I both think a lot alike about smart growth and what we will leave for the next generation,” Joedecke said, “and we are also not afraid to throw ideas out there that may not stick.”
“We have some large-scale issues facing Braselton, such as the rewrite of our Development Code and the never-ending 211 widening, to name a few, which are already in progress. Kurt is detail-oriented, will hold people accountable, and I know Kurt will be hands-on.”
Ward maintained through his race that he sees different priorities for different parts of town. In west Braselton, which is largely in Hall County, a key need is open space and a key concern is the large number of rental properties in place or planned.
“The vision for our town has to be the main thing,” he said. “That has to be our goal — to listen to the voters and follow up on that vision.”