Four Candidates Qualify for City Council Race

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Councilman Mike Sosebee will seek reelection in Nov.

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Qualifying for the 2017 city-wide, non-partisan municipal elections ended Thursday with two incumbents and two new candidates entering the race for city council.

Incumbent Angie Smith will seek her second full term in office. She was appointed to the board in 2012 and won her first election in 2013. Mike Sosebee has served on and off city council over the past 30 years.

The newcomers are Stephen Tolson, who lists his profession as healthcare administrator and Mark French, an office manager.

The election is scheduled Tuesday, Nov. 7 between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. All city voters will vote at the Dawsonville precinct, Dawson County Board of Elections Office; 96 Academy Avenue in  Dawsonville.

If you have any questions about your voting status, go to “My Voter Page” @ http://www.mvp.sos.ga.gov/MVP/mvp.do or call the Elections & Voter Registration office at 706-344-3640.

Fetch Your News will post profile articles on all the candidates in the coming weeks and provide the most comprehensive news coverage of all the races.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Qualifying for City Election Begins Monday

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — Qualifying for the Nov. 7 City of Dawsonville Municipal General Election will begin Monday August 21 and continue through Thursday, August 24 from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. in the Dawson County Board of Elections Office, 96 Academy Avenue, Dawsonville, Georgia.

Two seats on city council will be contested in the November election, one seat is currently held by Angie Smith. The other is held by Mike Sosebee. Candidates for either of the two seats must pay a $180 qualifying fee.

Dawsonville municipal elections are non-partisan and candidates run city wide campaigns.

Election Day is Nov. 7 and polls are open 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

For information on qualifying, call 706-344-3640.

 

 

 

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Councilwoman Angie Smith is Determined to Preserve the Heritage of the City of Dawsonville

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Councilwoman Angie Smith

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – A lifelong resident of Dawson County where her family has lived for four generations, Dawsonville City Councilwoman Angie Smith welcomes the growth that is headed up the 400 corridor. But she is determined to preserve the town’s historic homes and its heritage.

Smith, who is in her first full term on city council, will run for reelection in November.

“If there is a topic near and dear to me, it is the history of this town, revitalization and saving the historic homes we still have left,” Smith said Thursday.

Smith graduated from Dawson County High School then earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in music education from then North Georgia College and State University. After graduation, she accepted a position at Blacks Mill Elementary where she taught music and coached the girls’ basketball team.

There are some ongoing projects – like the new city park — she would like to see continued in a second term.

“The new park can be a great addition, not just to the city but the whole community,” she said.

“I’ve said before if we can complete the downtown revitalization, it will be the single most positive change in my lifetime inside the city limits.”

Another important project Smith wants to see through is the streetscape.

“The sidewalk project that started under the late Mayor Cox has continued under this mayor and city council and it is fabulous. It does a lot to connect the people with the businesses. We still have a long way to go but we have made good progress.”

Smith is married to Scott Smith. The couple has two children, Ethan, age 13, an 8th grader at Dawson County Junior High, and Addison, 9, a 4th grader at Robinson Elementary School.

In addition to her duties on city council, Smith is a part-time employee of her family’s real estate management company and is also the Minister of Music at her church.

 

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City Council Addressed AMP-Related Issues

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – The Dawsonville City Council was expected to render a decision on Atlanta Motorsports Park’s request to modify existing zoning stipulations at the track at Monday’s meeting but the applicant decided last week to withdraw the request.

Several related issues were on the agenda. An ethics complaint against former Downtown Development Authority member Seanie Zappendorf was rendered moot by her resignation. Zappendorf was accused of misrepresenting herself as a city employee.

City Attorney Dana Miles pointed out that the most an ethics committee could do would be to issue a letter of reprimand or direct counseling but since Zappendorf is no longer associated with the city, the issue should be considered moot. He recommend the board direct City Manager Bob Bolz to write a letter to the complainant explaining what had happened. Councilwoman Angie Smith made that motion and it passed unanimously.

Council was also expected to appoint an ethics committee but decided to postpone appointments until  the July meeting. The three-member committee is to be made up of one member appointed by the mayor, another appointed by the council and a third to be chosen by the mayor and city council together. That member must be a member of the Georgia Bar.

On May 1, council tabled a request by Len Reeves to modify existing zoning conditions on property located at 280 Maple Street zoned R-6, (residential multi-family) to await the results of a traffic study. But Planning Director Casey Majewski told council she had only received the study on the day of the council meeting and did not have time to review it. The request was tabled until the July meeting.

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AMP Owner Called for Zappendorf Resignation

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AMP owner Jeremy Porter

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Atlanta Motorsports Park owner Jeremy Porter said he suggested Seanie Zappendorf step down as a member of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) as soon as he learned about the complaint filed against her by Carlita Parks.

Parks’ complaint to City Manager Bob Bolz that Zappendorf misrepresented herself as a city employee is the basis for a formal ethics complaint. Zappendorf is not a city employee, but was a member of the DDA when she questioned Parks about her complaints against AMP.

The race track was involved in a controversial zoning issue at the time and Zappendorf’s questioning of Parks could be seen as a conflict of interest since she and her husband, Ron, own Discover Parts, a racing parts store that leases property at the track.

An email obtained from city officials confirms that Porter wrote City Councilwoman Angie Smith on May 2 stating:

“I wanted to bring an issue to your attention that affects both AMP and the City of Dawsonville in the hope that we can work together to find a resolution.

“Please find attached a copy of a letter that was sent to Bob Boltz (sic) by Carita Parks who is a nearby resident of the AMP track. In her letter, Mrs. Parks describes the actions of one of our tenants, Seanie Zappendorf, who appears to have interfered in both City of Dawsonville and AMP business while making false claims to be acting in an official capacity for both parties. (Giving Mrs. Parks a card with city of Dawsonville on it, when in reality it is the DDA / Stating she is an investor in AMP). I am not certain her actions were malicious, however I believe it does require action on our part.

“Mrs. Zappendorf is not an AMP investor, nor has she been given permission to act on our behalf in any way under any circumstances.

“I am extremely alarmed that any local resident should feel as if they are being given a ‘warning’ by a representative of AMP or the DDA. I would like to, with your permission, inform Mrs. Parks that Mrs. Zappendorf is not an AMP investor and that her actions are not endorsed by us. I would also urge you to use this opportunity to provide reassurance to Mrs. Parks that Mrs. Zappendorf does not have any authority with the City of Dawsonville when it comes to assessing sound levels.

“My suggestion is to ask that Mrs. Zappendorf step down from the DDA. However, I would welcome your feedback on how to directly address this resident’s complaint and Mrs. Zappendorf’s actions.

“I would also be interested to discuss ways in which we can work together to ensure that this does not happen again.”

Zappendorf resigned from DDA six days later and AMP has withdrawn its request for modifications to its zoning stipulations.

City Council is expected to appoint a three-member ethics commission Monday to hear the complaint.

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Mayor Grogan Calls Removal “A Witch Hunt” Councilwoman Smith Says It was Justified

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Mayor James Grogan

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – On May 22, Dawsonville City Council members Jason Power, Angie Smith and Caleb Phillips voted to remove Mayor James Grogan from office for alleged violations of the city charter, basing their decision on an investigation by attorney Abbott Hayes, who charged the city in excess of $6,000 for his work.

The mayor called the investigation a “witch hunt” and supporters labeled it a “political lynching.”

The allegations, as outlined in Hayes’ report, include:

Violation of the city charter by reducing the fee for several rezoning applications without council approval, changing an application for water and sewer from a business rate to a slightly less expensive residential rate without council approval; approving charitable donations to non-profit organizations; charging alcohol to his city-issued credit card and instructing an employee to use the city credit card to purchase alcohol.

Sources close to the city council and the mayor told Fetch Your News that even if the allegations are true, they “do not rise to the level of removal from office.”

During the May 22nd meeting, Mayor Grogan’s attorney Steven Leibel questioned Hayes and elicited the following information:

  • No one other than the mayor was investigated;
  • The application for water and sewer that was re-classified from business to residential was for a building that is less than 400 square feet that was never used for business, but only for storage of material;
  • Donations to non-profit organizations was a practice carried forward from the Joe Lane Cox administration and when the city attorney pointed out it is not allowed under the Georgia Constitution, the practice stopped;
  • The alcohol purchased was not for personal consumption. It was the same “moonshine” produced by the Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery, which is located in the city hall complex. It was purchased as a door prize intended to promote the City of Dawsonville.

The timing of the mayor’s removal raised suspicion among Grogan’s supporters who wondered if council had another motivation. Some of those have asked why council waited so long to investigate? After all, some of the allegations date all the way back to 2013 and were made highly public in 2015.

Fetch Your News wanted to know if the council’s actions were politically motivated so we contacted each of the three who voted to remove the mayor.

Councilwoman Angie Smith

Smith responded to our questions in an email. Phillips said only that he agreed with everything Smith said and Power did not respond at all.

Smith wrote, “We were acting in accordance with the authority given by our charter and it is clear to us that seeking justice is absolutely not a political lynching.”

She added, “Along with the annexations and in light of the difference in fees that were charged for other annexations, and not knowing how it came about, (Caleb Phillips) made a motion for the City Manager to hire Abbott Hayes to investigate who authorized the reduced fees and if there were any other misuse of fees in the city or misuse of city funds…Angie Smith seconded and the vote carried unanimously in favor. As you can see, our motion for an investigation never mentioned Mayor Grogan specifically.”

Asked if three city council members have the authority to override the vote of hundreds of citizens who elected the mayor, Smith said, “While the citizens of the City of Dawsonville did, in fact, elect Mr. Grogan to be Mayor, they did not elect him to violate our city charter and city ordinances. We, as city council members were also elected by the citizens of this city to uphold our charter and ordinances, as well as laws of our county, state, and nation.”

Leibel appealed the council’s action Wednesday in Superior Court of Dawson County and Mayor Grogan was returned to his position pending the outcome of that appeal.


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 www.fetchyournews.com

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