There were two candidate forums this week featuring the candidates for Gwinnett Commission Chairman. Here are reports on the two events.
Monday’s Greater Gwinnett Republican Women’s forum:
Bannister noted during the meeting that the county’s revenue is running about 15 percent down from last year, and that the county government has begun studying its departments to find ways to cut costs.
“It’s not a joyous time,” he said. “There is no answer.”
But Bannister said he would be more inclined to find ways to cut taxes than raise them, saying that county government needed a Reagan-esque answer to the shortfall. Bannister said he has a plan to reduce property taxes, but asked to reveal the plan’s details later.
Green took issue with Bannister’s approach, noting that the county’s reserve account had fallen from $133 million in 2005 at the start of his term to about $75 million now – the minimum amount necessary to maintain a triple-A favorable bond rating.
County staff told the commission that it needs to raise taxes or cut services, she said. Cutting taxes isn’t an option, because county government can’t run a deficit, Green said.
Wednesday’s Gwinnett Village CID forum:
The only negative comments – when Green accused incumbent Chairman Charles Bannister of missing the majority of Transit Planning Board meetings – came in a moment where many complained they couldn’t understand the speakers.
Green said she wants to see more police officers on the street and even more focus on illegal immigration, a topic on which she has sparred with Bannister for months.
“The reason illegals flock to Gwinnett is because of jobs. We need to cut off that life line,” she said, adding that she wanted help from the Legislature to impose a rental ordinance to also attack housing issues.
Bannister, who said hiring illegals should be a reason to take away business licenses, had ideas to improve the zoning process by forcing people to register as lobbyists to relieve political pressure and to consider changes to the county’s land use map before taking up a potential rezoning.
Glenn Pirkle, an electrical contractor from Buford running for chairman, distinguished himself as the only candidate opposed to the use of tax allocation districts to fund redevelopment. The issue will also be on July ballots.