An introductory interview with Job 2 candidate John Marshall
A graduate of Georgia State University in Risk Management, John Marshall continued his education to become a Chartered Property and Casualty Insurance Underwriter. He has also served on numerous county boards and appointments, including time on the board of the Gilmer Chamber, where he was also chairman at one time, on the council of the Regional Commission for Northwest Georgia as Speaker of the House, David Ralston, and at the
Marshall said he had been attending county meetings for five years and found the county debates very interesting. With a wealth of knowledge from his time served in the various facets of the county, he felt it was the next step to consolidate all of this experience and information to serve the county and the community guiding his way forward. He added that his goal is to ensure that this forward movement is a positive movement while protecting the county’s natural resources.
Marshall said he never had a singular moment or event that caused him to run for commissioner in post 2. Instead, through his continued service to the county in several different capacities , he simply continues on this path with this next opportunity.
The county has been very blessed with visitors from the tourism industry. Marshall said it was not a mistake as the county worked hard to achieve the goal and market itself. With that success came attention and need. With that, one of the needs the county is currently facing is housing for workers. With his current job operating rental properties, Marshall said he’s seen the growing needs firsthand. He noted that he receives around 150 calls every month from people looking for decent, clean accommodation. Marshall went on to say that multi-family dwellings like duplexes, triplexes and even apartments are a need faced by the community as a whole. Not just a government entity, city boundary or county boundary.
Programs like the Georgia Community Housing Initiative help communities with information and insight into what is available and which investors are available for specific housing needs. Marshall said seizing opportunities to gather information and assets is a way for the county to further explore solutions to this need.
The need goes deeper, as Marshall said, without adequate housing it hampers solutions to other issues like staffing in the county. When it comes to staffing operations like public safety, emergency response, law enforcement or even teachers, Marshall said, “There are people who would come here, but they can’t not because there is no place to live here.
Across other issues like wages and infrastructure, Marshall said debt poses other challenges. Meeting challenges like this is part of the commissioners’ job. Marshall said the current board has done “an amazing job of managing budgets and taking all requests and fulfilling them as best they can.”
Having attended all of the budget sessions last year and several over the past few years, Marshall has gained some insight into this process and the work done by the board. He commended this work and said he planned to continue this hard work if elected. He said, “We must continue to pursue revenue that does not directly affect the pocketbooks of the citizens of Gilmer County.
With his background in business and experience with government entities, Marshall has a specific understanding of budgets and the county’s need for economic development without ever taking his eyes off the expenditures, but also the revenues.
Operating throughout the pandemic, Marshall notes that Gilmer has benefited economically and continues to take steps to constantly improve that. Raising the tax on hotels and motels is one of those steps that will open new doors and opportunities such as the development of tourism products. Because of his involvement with the Chamber, Marshall said he saw the potential for what this could accomplish while supporting the entities involved.
And these projects can also vary and benefit locals in addition to tourists through projects such as recreational facilities. This is a specific area that Marshall says is another need he sees in the county for its citizens. Improved and new facilities can increase the quality of life in the community. With the Transient Lodging Tax an example is provided and Marshall spoke of revenue from outside of Gilmer citizens targeting visitors and tourists. Expanding these revenue streams will also help diversify the county’s economic development.
Attracting industry and supporting projects like agritourism, agricultural development, small business and industry development with projects like CORE (Collaboration at River’s Edge) become key points in this hope for diversification and expansion.
Marshall said, “Our identity as a rural area is protected in large part because approximately 75% of the county is either federally owned or state owned, or that land is already in conservation use, which which means they won’t. developed immediately.
Marshall also touched on the subject of subdivisions saying that new developments take a very long time to develop and fill up. He noted that Walnut Mountain and Coosawattee River Resort, both developed decades ago, are still only half full in terms of homes built on lots. In terms of government involvement, Marshall noted that the Board of Commissioners has instructed the Planning and Zoning Board to review all land use ordinances and recommend any changes that may be necessary. He said: “It has to be a very broad, deliberate, slow process to get it all because it affects virtually everyone in the county.”
Working with other council members is another key part of county operations. Marshall noted that his ideas aren’t always the best, so he hopes to listen to the community for advice. Marshal said, “I want to be that commissioner who listens to everyone and treats everyone with the utmost respect and kindness.”
The community involves citizens, but also other entities, as Marhsall said it is important that all facets of county governments seek solutions together rather than in individual silos. He also claimed that this extends to all general topics, whether recreational, economic or otherwise.
In the citizen community, Marshall said he hopes to build consensus and coalition among disparate groups. Through training and speech, he hopes to be the commissioner who listens in order to see the unintended consequences that each county decision could have and understand the impact. In serving citizens, he says he looks forward to making government business as efficient and effective as possible.
By maintaining the connections of his previous service in the county and region and stepping into the county office, he will not just bring his experience but a history of collaboration to the position.
Working on behalf of the community means balancing tourism and economic engine development with non-tourism agriculture, citizens and the future of the county. Tourism serves the county economically and the citizens support this tourism in business and services. Marshall said: ‘I am a fiscal conservative and always have been. I will be that commissioner who constantly seeks to use taxpayers’ money wisely and prudently. I want to be that commissioner who constantly searches for answers to the problems we have by examining how other communities have dealt with similar problems.