City council members — including two who were recently voted out of office – are expected to approve the change from an at-large system of electing city council members to a vote by district during Monday’s city council meeting.
According to the Georgia Municipal Association, only 19 percent of Georgia’s more than 500 cities choose their council members by district.
City Council did hold one public hearing on the issue at its work session recently. The second public hearing is set for Monday. However, there has been no town hall meeting or formal effort to gather public input on the issue, so it is unclear if Dawsonville citizens are even aware of the change that is about to take place.
Asked if such an important change should be decided by city residents in a referendum, Councilman Caleb Phillips said, “I don’t know if it should or shouldn’t. I haven’t talked to anybody who thought it was a bad idea. That’s the way our government works.”
But former Dawson County Commission Chairman Mike Berg said, “When you change the way people elect their government without any input from the citizens, you have a kind of socialism.”
Two new city council members – Stephen Tolson and Mark French – will take the oath of office Monday. FetchYourNews asked both if the decision should be left up to voters to decide. Both chose not to answer.
Tolson said, “I appreciate your asking, but just to ensure a good relationship with the current city council members, I have promised them I would not comment on that.”
French said he would prefer to wait until after he took the oath of office to respond. He did say, however, “I have not been requested by anyone to remain silent regarding the proposed amendment. A request of that nature, in my opinion, is certainly not appropriate.”
Council will also vote on a resolution to reduce the mayor’s pay from $2,000 to $600 a month.
City Manager Bob Bolz explained that the mayor, who once served as mayor and city manager, has fewer responsibilities now that the city has a full-time manager.
Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com