October 16, 2013

Candidate profile: Crews wants to continue work on council

Charles Oliver

— Dalton City Council member Gary Crews says the council has accomplished quite a bit during the three-and-a-half years he’s been on it, and he says he wants another four years to continue that work.

“Maybe the thing I’m most proud of is the completion of the Mack Gaston Community Center. That has already become a major focus of activity, not just for that area but for the city as a whole,” he said. “The idea for that and the early work on it started before I joined the council, but we completed it.”

Beyond that, Crews points to the renovation of the Ronald R. Nix Complex at James Brown Park, the renovation of Brookwood Park and the hiking/biking trial on Mount Rachel as projects done in the last three years that have made the city a better place to live. He said the property tax cuts the city has made make it a more attractive place to live and do business.

The City Council has cut its property tax rate six years in a row. This tax rate now stands at 2.616 mills, down from 2.974 mills in 2009 and 3.66 mills in 2007.

“We want to continue to lower taxes as long as it is financially viable. That makes us a more affordable place,” he said.

Crews said he thinks one of the council’s biggest accomplishments was renegotiating the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) agreement last year. That deal more than doubled the share of the LOST the city gets, to 32 percent this year from 14.93 percent under the previous agreement. The city’s share will continue to climb one percentage point every other year until 2021.

Crews said he wants to continue to develop the city’s partnership with other agencies, governments and organizations.

“I also think we have strengthened our partnership with Dalton State College,” he said. “One of our best opportunities for us to grow as a community is for Dalton State to grow.”

The city is currently renovating the multipurpose field at Lakeshore Park, which is slated to become the home of the college’s soccer program when it is approved by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia.

Crews faces challenger J.K. Ware in the Nov. 5 election for the Ward 4 seat on the council.

Crews, 56, joined the council in 2010 after being the only person to qualify to fill the unexpired term of Charlie Bethel, who stepped down to run for the state Senate.

Born in Winston-Salem, N.C., Crews’ family moved to Atlanta when he was 12, then to Chattanooga two years later. After graduating from Tyner High School, he began working for the Athletic Attic, a shoe and apparel retailer. When Walnut Square Mall opened in 1980, he moved to manage the store in Dalton.

“At that time I was 22 years old, and I really fell in love with the area,” he said.

In 2001, he began working for MedNow, where he currently serves as practice manager. He also has a real estate license.

He and his wife Kim have been married almost 27 years and have two children: John, who designs carpet for Shaw Industries, and Kara, a senior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Crews said he had an early interest in politics because of a great uncle who served in the North Carolina House of Representatives. He said his first real involvement in politics was managing Brian Anderson’s 2004 campaign for chairman of the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners. After that, he worked on some other campaigns and served as chairman of the Whitfield County Republican Party.

“It was sort a natural progression, the next step in public service was to run for elected office,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed my time on the council, and I’d like to continue the work we have done.”