Damon Gibbs believes Flowery Branch is the area's next hot spot for growth.
"When the economy turns, I think it's going to turn here first," he said.
And to gear up for that, the new city councilman said the South Hall city must stress working on a long-term plan to correct some basic needs.
"I don't want somebody coming in and doing something against the master plan of where we are headed," he said.
Gibbs is scheduled to be sworn in to his first term as Post 1 councilman at 6 tonight, when the council holds it first meeting of the year. The ceremony and the meeting will take place at City Hall, 5517 Main St.
He became councilman after defeating incumbent Amanda Swafford in the Nov. 8 election. He has been regularly attending meetings and talking to city officials, trying to soak up pressing issues in the city.
"Some of the things I campaigned on, I hope to work on pretty quick," said Gibbs, 40, who serves as facilities director for the Hall County school system, in an interview last week.
"Infrastructure is an issue, as I see it," he said, particularly citing the city's stormwater troubles.
Hard rainfalls have long plagued the city, causing property erosion and streets to buckle, especially on the older parts built on a hillside between Atlanta Highway and Gainesville Street.
"A long-term plan needs to be in place and a study done to determine just what that plan needs to entail," Gibbs said.
"Actually, there is no real solid long-term plan for Flowery Branch in general, and everybody is so knee-jerk (in reacting to issues)," he added.
"It's not much different than what I deal with in the school system. When something happens, it has to be dealt with, but hopefully, there's going to be a retreat planned soon and (the council) can talk about long-term plans."
Otherwise, Gibbs said, he is joining the council "with no long agenda."
"I want to find out what's going on a little more in-depth with the residents of Flowery Branch and see how I can help," he said.
Gibbs is new to politics — this was his first run for office — having spent the past 15-plus years in several public schools positions.
He has served as a high school and elementary school principal, and as a high school teacher and assistant principal.
"When I got out of the high school principalship, it opened up a little bit of time I felt I could give back to my community," he said. "I want to be able to make a difference."