Getting to know Paulding County’s Board of Commissioners candidates
At the county level, there are two Board of Commissioners races. With the exit of Post 1 Commissioner Ron Davis, voters will have two new faces to choose from in that race and two familiar faces in the race for Commission Chairman. Incumbent Commission Chairman Dave Carmichael will face former Commission Chairman Bill Carruth and for Post 1, James Curtis will face Keith Dunn. Candidates for Paulding’s BoC races responded by email to the following brief questionnaire regarding their candidacy. The primary will occur on June 9, 2020. The general election will occur on November 3, 2020.
What Civic activities/volunteer do you currently participate in and how long have you participated in those activities?
Dave Carmichael, (Incumbent) Chairman
Westridge church elder team - 10 years, Fellowship of Christian Athletes board - 12 years, church rush camp counselors for middle school high schoolers - 1 year, SURGE camp/Bible school for elementary school. Leader of “man versus wild” track. Also substitute on Sunday mornings in fifth grade small groups, hope for Christmas volunteer - 3 years, Chamber of Commerce board - 3 years, Boys and girls club speaker/mentor/math tutor-20 years, truth in nature ministry for single-parent boys-10 years. CAYA, Come as You Are ministry, Ex-Officio Board Member-13 years, Run for the badges five-key glow run - five years annually, Polar plunge supporter/participant - 2 years.
Bill Carruth, Chairman
I’ve been a member of the Dallas First United Methodist Church since childhood where my family and I participate in and donate to many activities such as River of Life, Murphy Harpst Children’s Home, Wellroot Family Services, and others. I’ve been a member of the Paulding County Chamber of Commerce for over 30 years, where my team won the membership drive one year and another year I was awarded Business Leader of the Year. I contribute to and participate in various events each year to support the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Wounded Warriors, and Must Ministries to name a few. One of my favorite activities my family and I enjoy together is to sponsor less fortunate families at Christmas each year.
James Curtis (Post 1)
My family and I have been actively serving our community for six years with our company Paulding County Uncensored LLC. We help our community every day to find missing people, lost items, and up to date info on what’s happening around them. We advertise small businesses, bring awareness to local charities, and also help identify outreach programs for those who need them. Most recently, we contributed and raised donations for Toys for Tots with the local Paulding County Jeepers club. I’ve hosted numerous fundraisers and activities, including Legacy Faith Riders Toy Drive fundraiser, Food Truck Saturdays at P.B. Ritch Middle School, A Flick on the Flight line, Spring Fling at the Airport, Hiram Christmas Tree Lighting, West Georgia Networking events, and many others.
Keith Dunn (Post 1)
As a small businessman, I tend to support organizations financially considering I don't always have the time resources to contribute. I’ve always hoped that my financial contributions have been matched well with dedicated volunteers and leaders who put the resources to great use for our community. Cherie and I volunteer a lot of time fundraising for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. We’re both very proud that our family’s annual fundraiser has raised over $1,100,000 in the last 19 years. This our 20th year and we are excited to see what happens! We also routinely support Blue Skies Ministries, Truth in Nature, The Home Depot Foundation, Lowes Swing for Charity, The Atlanta Braves Foundation, Paulding County FCA, and many other local charities.
What is your ultimate purpose/reason for running for the office you are seeking?
My ultimate “purpose/reason” and motivation for running for reelection is to provide progress for Paulding and continue the Board of Commissioner’s momentum and strong teamwork to accomplish multiple tasks. I’ll head efforts that will improve the quality of life (career jobs, higher wages, commercial and business growth), which will offset and lower personal property tax. My extended objective is to leave Paulding County’s multiple boards in a synergistic, common effort to execute their respective missions multilaterally for the benefit of all citizens.
As a businessman, I want to see our tax dollars spent more efficiently and effectively. As a citizen, I believe in serving my community in a position where I know I can make a positive difference in the lives of our citizens. As a former chairman, I easily recognize wasteful spending and a lack of planning and vision for our future. We continue to lag behind on attracting quality, high paying jobs to our area and our taxes continue to rise. I care deeply about this county we all call home, and I see so many opportunities for improvement. I look at my new grandson and I wonder what life will be like for him in 10, 20 or even 50 years. I’m running for Commission Chairman because my years of experience in both business and government have prepared me to provide the strong, conservative, and proven leadership that Paulding needs to get moving in the right direction again.
The ultimate reason I’m running for Post 1 commissioner is to make Paulding County a great place to work and live. I’ve lived here for 13 years, and I’m proud to call Paulding County my home. I believe Paulding County has the capacity under the right leadership to move from becoming just a bedroom community to a thriving community that has high-paying jobs and still keeps our down-home charm and green space. I have a platform (Paulding County Uncensored) that people use to reach out all the time with their needs/wants for the county. I want to focus on managing the growth and maintaining our small-town appeal while being the voice for the people.
Everyone deserves the American dream here in Paulding, and our county government should protect the opportunity for those dreams to develop and grow. I'm a conservative, and I believe that our county government can do more to attract businesses that will help lower the tax burden on homeowners, invest in our roads for a growing county, provide the needed resources to public safety and first responders, and generally, protect our way of life that makes Paulding a great place to raise a family.
What qualifications do you have to run for the office you’re seeking?
My qualifications center around multiple years of leadership positions and experience gained. Some of the positions I’ve held include Paulding County commission chairman, 2017 to present. Paulding County Post 1 commissioner, 2013-15. Georgia Department of Air Transportation administrator (served for governors) from 1991 to 2012. USMC commanding officer air combat element (50 officers). USMC commanding officer aviation logistics squadron (150 troops). USMC aviation maintenance officer (16 aircraft, 50 troops).
I’m a businessman with experience in owning and running a small business with only three employees as well as a large company with over 300 employees. My career also includes 10 years of public service, six years as a post commissioner and one term as the Paulding County Commission Chairman. As chairman, some of my accomplishments include building the Silver Comet Trail, acquiring the Hiram Parkway, expanding the paid fire department and building the Veterans Memorial Monument. I consider my greatest achievement to be the Richland Creek Reservoir. After the citizens voted overwhelmingly to build a reservoir, I was able to purchase the land and start the bonding and permitting process during my term. Shortly after leaving office to focus on my companies, I was appointed by Governor Perdue to serve on the Department of Natural Resources Board and reappointed by Governor Deal. I served as chairman of the DNR board and also chaired the Land Acquisition committee where I was instrumental in acquiring 7,500 acres of green space for the Paulding Forest. I’m a fiscal conservative with the knowledge and experience to get things done.
My experience as a Manager at IBM, 84 Lumber, and owner of Buy Georgia Realty and Paulding County Uncensored have taught me not only to see the micro view but the macro view to accomplish complex goals. My educational background (Mercer University, Bachelors of Science in Information Systems and a Minor in Criminal Justice) has provided me with an education that spans many different fields and will enable me to relate to varying circumstances. Growing up in the church has provided me with my Christian conservative moral values. The most important qualification I believe I have for this office is my willingness to serve. I’ve been doing just this for the past six years in our community, raising awareness, holding events, and donating to charities with my companies.
Professionally, I'm a small businessman who continues to run and operate a successful business, even in the challenging economic conditions right now. My 32 years of experience growing and operating a business, especially during times when a lot of companies are choosing to shut their doors, means I can contribute to a county government that will be facing extreme budget difficulties due to the COVID-19 slowdown.
If elected, what would you like to accomplish as a public official during your term?
When serving a second term I’d like to fully implement my revised/updated ordinances, polish and refine our “on line” permitting process to better serve the business entrepreneur and/or business applicant, work in collaboration with the industrial building authority and the economic development organization to recruit companies, businesses, and manufacturers to bring jobs in better workforce opportunities to Paulding County. Upgrade and widen East-West connector roads between Highway 92 and Highway 61, finish winding projects Highway 92, 61 and 360 (Macland Road). Expand the Richland Creek Reservoir distribution system, complete additional athletic fields at Burnt Hickory, Mulberry Rock, and Taylor Farm Parks. If citizens vote to support a Seven Hills Park, construct a family-fun location off Seven Hills Parkway, and collaborate with public safety units and Board of Education to counter drug activity through the alcohol, drugs, awareness program.
As Commission Chairman, I plan to use our tax dollars wisely and efficiently. I’ll eliminate waste, and make economic development a priority. Since we do not have some of the advantages of our neighboring counties like an Interstate Highway, we have to become more innovative. Balancing our tax digest will help relieve the burden off of homeowners as well as help provide the quality, high paying jobs we are lacking. I plan to work with the Board of Education to explore lowering the age for seniors to be exempt from school tax while making sure our children’s education is the best possible because our children are the future of Paulding County. While the COVID-19 pandemic will have a profound effect on our county and budget, I’ll do my best to keep our property taxes in line. During my previous term, I was able to lower the total millage rate every year while expanding services. My goal is to protect and improve the quality of life for the citizens of Paulding County. I’m ready to get to work to ensure that Paulding’s brightest days are ahead.
I believe the current Board of Commissioners have been moving in a positive direction with bringing in Costco and the new Richland Creek Reservoir. We have to continue this cycle and enhance our infrastructure to handle this change. I plan to move our county from 88% homeowner tax revenue and 12% industrial and commercial revenue to 65% homeowner and 35% commercial revenue. I plan to work closely with our current economic director to seek out industries that align with our county goals and bring them here. I plan to work with local and state representatives to expand our roadways to accommodate our growing population and future industries. We have to expand our sewage system. Sewer services not only bring additional revenue to the county but are vital for industry. I’ll put Paulding County homeowners first. I don’t believe that we should be increasing homeowner taxes in this economy. Smart strategic growth is critical.
Ultimately, I'd like to see one to two new large employers come to the county offering hundreds of good jobs to local residents. To do that, I would like to see road projects initiated that help facilitate the movement of goods and people through the county along with other infrastructure upgrades that attract commercial businesses and lower the tax burden to the homeowners.