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Opinion: Honoring the legacy of Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan
Danny Dunagan 2020.jpg
Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan

The city of Gainesville has recently sworn in its second elected mayor, Sam Couvillon. Mayor Couvillon will continue the long tradition of devoted leadership on the City Council of Gainesville. 

As we look ahead towards the future of Gainesville, we felt it was important to recognize the tremendous leadership of Gainesville’s first elected mayor, Danny Dunagan. Mr. Dunagan grew up in Gainesville, and he graduated from Gainesville High School and Gainesville College. For the past 43 years, he has been the owner of 3D Cleaners. He served for nine years on the Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board (five years as chair), seven years as a member of City Council and eight years ago, he became our first elected mayor.

When you visit communities in Georgia, you realize how blessed we are to have such tremendous leadership serving for our municipalities and our county commission. The dedication of so many talented elected officials, staff and community volunteers separates our region of Northeast Georgia from many other communities. 

Danny Dunagan represents the very best of this leadership. He is compassionate about the city of Gainesville and for the past eight years, he has tirelessly worked to move us forward both economically and advancing our tremendous quality of life. The decisions can be difficult, and anyone in leadership positions must be willing to make those tough decisions. 

If we look around, we see the tremendous progress that has been made these past eight years under his leadership and the other members of our city council.

In 2020, Site Selection magazine named Gainesville-Hall County one of the top Small Metros in the nation for job creation and investment. We have also been named by Forbes Magazine as one of the “Best Small Places for Business & Careers” for the last six years. Recognitions such as these require great planning and execution. 

Mayor Dunagan also played a key role in the restructuring of the Gainesville Housing Authority as well as important work on the Lake Lanier Olympic Park. The Gainesville 85 Business Park, which is under construction, will be a tremendous boost to our tax base and manufacturing growth. Our Highlands to Islands Trail is continuing to expand and when finally completed, there will be an 8-mile trail for us to enjoy. 

Perhaps one of the greatest changes over the past eight years is the tremendous transition of downtown Gainesville. As the Solis development and the Gainesville Renaissance project near completion, there is already a new sense of energy and vibrancy about our downtown. Future completion of the new parking deck, several pocket parks and new restaurants and retail will continue this incredible transition.

Serving in leadership positions is never easy. It is time consuming, frustrating at times, and everyone is not always happy with your decisions. Thank goodness, though, that we have had Danny Dunagan and so many others who show the courage, strong morals and ethics, and love of our community to serve. Danny Dunagan will continue to serve as member of the Gainesville City Council. We owe him a great amount of gratitude for service both past and future.

George Jones and Doug Carter