Hubbard is the only incumbent up for re-election this year. Fellow board member Karen Bosch, who represents District 3, is not seeking another four years in office.
Hubbard is being challenged by Woodstock attorney Channing Ruskell and former Fire Chief Raymond Gunnin.
Hubbard, 67, grew up in Cherokee County and points to his 49 years of living in the county, his 37 years as a volunteer firefighter and his community service on numerous boards including the Impact Fee Board as well as his experience on the commission as helping make him the best candidate.
“My commission experience includes managing some of the fastest residential growth in the country, followed by the sharp end to that growth. We reduced the annual county operating budget by $9 million over four years while maintaining high service levels in our public safety department,” Hubbard said. “My experience can help further reduce our budget while preparing for future growth.”
Ruskell, 57, says he is best qualified because he has the ability and desire to do the job.
“I will read, understand and consider the consequences of matters before I vote or approve them. I will not increase taxes but will seek to implement ways to provide essential county services at a reasonable cost benefitting the citizens and not just a few cronies or family members,” Ruskell said.
Gunnin, 52, says as a lifelong resident and former fire chief he has seen many changes in Cherokee County.
“This unique perspective enables me to promote a vision for Cherokee County of continued sensible growth coupled with a superior quality of life for our residents,” Gunnin said. “I spent 32 years with the county fire department serving the citizens of Cherokee County. I look forward to serving the citizens again in a different roll. Serving and helping people is my passion and I will use all that I have learned working in Cherokee County to hopefully again affect the lives of the citizens in a positive way.”
Hubbard says traffic is a major concern throughout the metro region and Cherokee is not exempt.
“Most of our major arteries are state routes, so while our control of these is somewhat limited, we continue to work with our state legislators and our Engineering Department works with Georgia DOT to keep our projects high priority,” Hubbard said. “Roads are top priority, but quality local jobs so our citizens don’t have to leave the county to work will also impact traffic congestion.”
Ruskell, when asked about how traffic problems should be addressed, said, “Eliminate big spending, stop throwing money away for projects that we don’t need and can’t afford, start spending the county’s money efficiently instead of like a bunch of drunk sailors on shore leave.”
Gunnin said the price tag on road projects is enormous and without assistance from state and federal sources it will be difficult for Cherokee County to raise the needed funds to make significant improvements.
“This is an issue that is difficult to answer looking from the outside into our local government. I can assure the residents, if I am elected I will do whatever is possible to provide adequate roadways for our citizens,” Gunnin said. “The concept of the TSPLOST is an excellent way to raise funds for improving the infrastructure, but the list of projects in the current proposal will not help with our growing traffic problems.”
On taxes, Gunnin said he favored a homestead option sales tax, or HOST, as the best option to generate revenue.
“Property taxes are one of the most intrusive taxes we have and residents should not fear losing their home because they can’t pay their property taxes,” Gunnin said.
Hubbard said the taxpayers in the county now enjoy low taxes and efficient government.
“Cherokee now enjoys the fifth lowest operating tax rate in Georgia, the second lowest taxes per resident in metro Atlanta, and the lowest employee ratio, Hubbard said. “I am proud of our progress and want to maintain our shared vision of low taxes and efficient government, while protecting our outstanding public safety.”
Ruskell said taxes need to be lowered proportionately with the decrease in property values.
“We need to make smart changes to the big spending. We need a commissioner who knows how to negotiate a contract not give away the farm,” Ruskell said. “We need a commissioner who will read a contract and understand it, not just sign it because he was told to. We need a commissioner who will collect taxes equally and not give his cronies a free ride, while the rest of us pay.”