Local News

June 10, 2014

Davis, Robbins promise to work for growth if elected Whitfield commissioner

The economy and county spending dominated the discussion Tuesday at a candidates forum hosted by the Whitfield County Republican Party.

Renee Davis and Barry Robbins, who finished first and second respectively in the four-way May 20 Republican primary for the District 1 seat on the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners, faced off at the Mack Gaston Community Center in front of an audience of about 40 people. The two are in the July 22 runoff, and with no Democrat qualifying for that race, the runoff winner like will be the next commissioner from District 1.

Gordon Morehouse, the Republican who currently holds that seat, did not run for re-election this year.

Both Davis and Robbins expressed a desire to see greater economic growth in Whitfield County.

“A more diverse economy would be great but right now we need to try to attract any type of business we can,” said Robbins, who works for First Bank of Dalton.

In particular, Robbins said he would like to see the county find ways to encourage development in areas that are more economically distressed.

Davis also said that she wants to encourage greater economic growth and to bring in new types of industry.

“In order to attract business, we need to have an educated, skilled workforce in this county,” she said.

Both candidates said they would work closely with the county school system to help develop a better educated workforce, but under questioning from the audience, they acknowledged that the school system sets its own budget, policy and priorities.

“Really, all we can do is support them and find ways to help them,” she said.

Both pledged to be fiscally conservative and keep a close eye on county spending.

Robbins said his background in banking and finance would help him do that. Davis, who owns and operates Four Paws Pet Resort, said running a business has taught her how to keep a close eye on expenses.

Both were asked about the possibility of merging the governments of Dalton and Whitfield County.

Robbins said he is willing to look at combining particular services where economies of scale could cut spending or improve service but doesn’t support merging the governments at this time.

Davis said she might support consolidation if it could be demonstrated that it would save taxpayers money. But she said it’s her understanding that where consolidation has been tried it hasn’t saved taxpayers much money and some people regret the decision to combine governments.

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