Local News

October 21, 2013

Candidate profiles: Varnell City Council, Willocks

Willocks says city on right track

Michael Willocks says he wants to see Varnell continue growing in the direction it has been.

“I love the direction it’s growing, at a manageable rate,” said Willocks, 34, and a 1998 graduate of Northwest Whitfield High School. “I want to help the city go in that direction. We have the convenience of a big city without the headache.”

Willocks faces Jan Pourquoi in the Nov. 5 election for City Council Seat 2. Brent Newsome, who currently holds the seat, is not seeking re-election.

Early voting is under way and continues through Nov. 1.

“Varnell is running fine,” said Willocks, who is the sample department manager at Stanton Carpet in Calhoun and works part time at Nob North Golf Course.

“I want to continue the city in the positive direction it is going,” he said. “I don’t want to reinvent the wheel. I just want to keep it turning.”

Willocks said Varnell’s businesses are well supported by the residents, and he would use that to attract more businesses to the city.

“We have to show the businesses that we have a community supporting them,” he said. “They may be afraid people will drive to Dalton instead of supporting local. I think we have to let them know this community does support the local businesses already here. It’s nice not to have to drive 15 minutes to get a faucet, brake pads for a car or a loaf of bread or groceries.”

Family is Willocks’ priority. He has a wife, Michelle, and two sons, Lance, 14, and Gavin, 7. He has coached sports teams for his children for many years. He grew up in Highland Forest and wanted to raise a family in Varnell.

“I want to instill a sense of community,” Willocks said. “I want to bring people together, especially the seniors and the youth. I want to come up with activities for both. Eton just had a fall festival, and I think things like that are neat. ... I love working with children. I coach my children’s ball teams. To have a good future, you have to work with things like that.”

Willocks said he decided to run because he likes the improvements current city officials have made in Varnell, including sprucing up the spring and building the new City Hall and the new senior/community center.

“It preserves a lot of history,” he said. “I like the way the current administration preserved history and brought new in.”

Willocks said he thinks the city’s budget, approximately $875,000, isn’t problematic.

“The budget is tricky,” he said. “It looks bad in the summer, but Varnell gets a big payment at the end of the year in (property) taxes. If you don’t understand that, it looks misleading. Varnell is OK budget-wise. There’s always room for improvement. We had a lot of projects to get out of the way. Now we can put more (funds) in reserves because we’re done with those projects. It’s upkeep now.”

Willocks said he hopes to see a good turnout on Election Day.

“I like for Varnell to have a good turnout at the polls regardless of who people vote for,” he said. “I want to see them care about the community.”

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