Townsend Announces Bid for Dade County Executive


My name is Don Townsend, today, I announce my candidacy for the Office of County Executive and Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of Dade County, Georgia.  I feel that I am the most qualified person to run for this position.  I have served as County Clerk and Chief Financial Officer to the Board of Commissioners over 17 years.  I have attained multiple certifications from the Georgia County Clerks Association (GCCA) and from the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG).  Both of these organizations utilize the University of Georgia Carl Vinson Institute of Government to certify all training and staff development classes attained by elected and appointed officials.  Through these organizations I attained my Certified County Clerk diploma and completed the Clerks Master Education Program. I am a 1989 graduate of Northwest Georgia High School; a 1993 graduate of the University of Georgia where I obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree with a concentration in Political Science:  Public Administration; and in 2001 received a diploma from the Graduate School of Banking and Finance at Louisiana State University.  I am a member of the International Institute of Municipal Clerks and a current member and Past President of the Georgia County Clerks Association whereas in 2020 was awarded the “County Clerk of the Year” representing all 159 counties in the State of Georgia.  I have been a member of the Trenton-Dade Optimist Club for 33 years where I formerly served as Secretary-Treasurer and a Past Distinguished President (twice) during my tenure, and past Lieutenant Governor of the Georgia District Optimist International.  Locally, I served as past President of the Dade County Kiwanis Club, past and current President of the Trenton-Dade County Lions Club, former director and member of the Dade County Chamber of Commerce, and member of the Dade County Historical Society.  I formerly served on the Dade County Board of Education from 1996 to 2000.  In 2021 Georgia Governor Brian Kemp appointed me to represent Dade County as a board member of the Selective Service System.  Most importantly, I am a Christian, member and Deacon of Silverdale Baptist Church.

I declare before you that I shall be devoted to your service, faithful to execute the duties of County Executive to the best of my ability for the betterment of the citizens of Dade County, Georgia.  I shall uphold the office I’m elected to with the highest regard and standard.  Furthermore, as your public servant, my door shall always be open to you, as I commit to serve everyone equally, rich or poor, great or small, I shall serve at the pleasure of our citizens.  I hold sacred the tenets of the United State Constitution, that ‘We the People…’ own and oversee the Commissioner’s office through the power of our democratic election system sustained within the Republic in which we all reside.

As Chairman/County Executive my office shall always strive to preserve what we all hold dear, our quality of life, culture and heritage here in Northwest Georgia.  I will promote precepts to protect the safety of our public places, and our citizens’ well-being.  I will ensure a collaboration of federal, state and local partnerships to enhance our precious natural resources through protections afforded through my office, to safeguard a sustainable source of clean water.  Water is the lifeblood of a community, because without a reliable source of water our community could vanish.  Furthermore, I support the preservation of our greenspaces and forest lands; and safeguards to agriculture through soil conservation, to promote the growth of fresh produce, cattle farming and other productions in our local communities.

However, the most important assets we have in our community are the people who live and work in Dade County.  I will always fully support public safety by backing our Sheriff’s Office with the necessary tools and vehicles needed to keep our community safe.  I support a fair and balanced Courts System and greatly appreciate each public servant who works in and around our local courts.  I will continue to support our Volunteer Firefighters by providing needed capital equipment, fire trucks, turnout gear and monthly supplements to ensure the safety of this county, and each firefighter’s life in the line of duty.  I’m a firm believer in Emergency 9-1-1 Services and support enhanced features such as ‘Text to 911’ for quicker response times.  Every second counts in an emergency situation, and life is too important not to continue efforts to advance these new technologies in our community.  I support renegotiating the County’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) agreement to augment those services to better benefit our citizens.  My family was forced to call upon an ambulance many times over the last couple of years, therefore, these services are near and dear to my heart.  Our First Responders save lives every day in our communities.  We must continue to provide these professionals the tools they need to expedite EMS medical transports per ambulance to local hospitals, without causing fear to our citizens of being overcharged.  I support continued collaboration of Dade’s Emergency Management protocols and partnerships with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) in our community to mitigate the loss of life and property damage during and after storms ravage our county.  I have been a part of securing grant funding to purchase generators to keep our water running due to the loss of power, and the construction of Storm Shelters spread throughout our county.  In addition to tornadoes, floods and thunderstorms the County recently had citizens lose power due to fallen trees from the ice storm and extremely cold weather, those citizens accessed our shelters to remain warm.  Furthermore, these shelters are being used by each community to promote local activities and support local fundraising functions.  In addition to emergency services, we must protect our local citizens from fly-by-night contractors that take a person’s money for a job but never do the work.  Or, the work they performed is substandard, and does not meet minimum State regulations to ensure their home’s pipes don’t leak or a fire is caused by poor wiring inside the walls of their home.  I support building codes and stricter code enforcement, so our residents have peace of mind that they are not the victim of a scam. Plus, better built homes equal fewer house fires that ultimately decreases ISO ratings.  Many insurance premiums are often tied to an Insurance Service Office (ISO) rating system.  The ISO scores fire departments on how they are doing against its organization’s standards to determine property insurance costs.  After analyzing the collected data, the ISO assigns a Public Protection Classification (PPC) on a scale from 1 to 10, whereas a 1 is the best.  Receiving a 1 lowers a property owner’s fire insurance premium.  Fewer fires in our community from better constructed homes will decrease our ISO rating and help our local volunteer fire departments to achieve a lower PPC score, which equals additional savings to our citizens.

I fully support our Public Health System and would like a 24-hour healthcare facility that provides emergency services and care in our local community.  Our citizens should not have to drive to a hospital in Chattanooga, only to sit in an emergency room for endless hours just to have a cast put on a broken bone or some stitches for a bad cut.  We have waited long enough for such 24-hour basic services.  Also, I fully support our County’s Public Transportation System and continued partnership with regional and state agencies that promote additional benefits directly to our Senior Citizens of this County.  I am thankful to live in a community that holds our senior citizens in such a high regard.  Our local Senior Center is 34 years of age and it is time to remodel this building for our seniors.  I fully support continued funding of our Senior Center that offers our aging population and homebound a hot meal, activities at the center and transportation needs being met among those who no longer are able to own or operate a vehicle.

Historic Preservation is an integral part of preserving our past for the advancement of our future.  Tearing down old historic homes and buildings may not always be the best solution for advancement of our county’s economic success.  If an old construction can reasonably be renovated for a new purpose or rebranded to meet the need of a unique marketing opportunity, then those ideas should be further discussed, investigated and determined collectively as a nuclear community.  An example of this is the preservation of our old Historic Courthouse.  I wholeheartedly support the renovation of our Historic Courthouse that sits in the center of our town’s square.  This iconic building is set to become an economic engine that supports the planning, conducting or participating in programs of information and publicity designed to attract or advertise tourism.  I will work with my fellow commissioners to provide educational opportunities for citizens to support and promote historic preservation and the arts; and supporting business and economic development to sustain existing jobs and to promote the creation of new jobs in Dade County.  The Historic Courthouse is simply a jewel of our County that I hope in time all citizens will once again recognize its potential to become a hub of activities for our citizens, guests and tourist.  I have served upon and/or support the Trenton-Dade County Historic Preservation Commission and the Alliance for Dade, in their efforts to support the Historic Courthouse to see this restoration project unto fruition hopefully by Spring of 2024.

The demand for housing in the State of Georgia is nearing epidemic proportions.  We must take full advantage of all federal and state grants to assist our local economic leadership team to secure housing for new workers with families choosing to move to Dade County to raise their family while working here at home.  I support the expansion of higher wage jobs through new commercial and industrial high-tech jobs that start out paying $25 per hour.  I support paying workers what they are worth!  In order to take care of businesses, we as a County must provide the mechanism to include housing for future workforce development.  My vision includes a Construction Career Center to recover the exiting workforce from our local trades.  For every five people leaving from local trades, only one replacement is being trained.  I support the creation of a not-for-profit (501c3) organization to facilitate a partnership including Dade County, City of Trenton, Dade County School District, Alliance for Dade, Industrial Development Authority, Northwest Georgia Joint Development Authority and several State agencies and our University System to collaborate through a joint partnership to establish a learning center for high school students, homeschooled students, private school students and technical college students.  These students would earn high school and/or college credits to learn from our local tradesmen skills needed to enter the fields of HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical and General Contracting.  Now is the time to establish such a campus here in Dade County that creates the foundation toward building a better Dade.

So, what draws families to work in Dade County?  How a person chooses to determine/define ‘work to live, or live to work’ comes down to their beliefs and values, and how they should spend their time in a community.  Younger people in the workforce many times are willing to move from job to job, community to community, lacking the soft skills necessary to remain long-term in one job.  But that is very expensive to local companies who have spent precious dollars to train these employees, only for that employee to leave them within two years or less.  My goal as County Executive is to transform our community, to cause a person to want to ‘live to work’ in our community.  We have always treasured our families as the glue that holds our community together.  As political leaders it is “people” we need to listen to and invest our resources into them and their families.  That is why places such as our public library, parks and recreation areas, arts and science programs, historic archives and solid infrastructure are so critical to our County.  I fully support community investing to create jobs, support local businesses, and improve living conditions.  People seek out communities that have parks to take their children to play in a safe environment.  Parents and children rely on our county ballfields to promote sports leagues and generate lifelong friendships through extracurricular activities.  Many times, politicians want to throw money at issues to solve problems.  But there is more to wealth.  A wealthy community is rich with friendships, time, beauty and most importantly relationships.  So, if we want to make a difference in our community as elected officials I recommend taking the time to slow down, mingle, say hello and chat.  Every new relationship is a sound investment in our community.  And here’s a new idea, let’s do it without the use of social media, actually in-person.  These are the ideas I promote to bring working-class people to our County who also have many gifts and talents that only enhance our rich culture and preservation of life in our community we call Dade County.

I would greatly appreciate your support and vote in the Republican general primary election on Tuesday, May 21, 2024.  Early voting in Dade County begins Monday, April 29, 2024 at the Dade County Administrative Building, 71 Case Avenue, Trenton, Georgia.  Voter registration deadline for this primary election is Monday, April 22, 2024.  I affirm to you my philosophy… “Don’t get tired of doing what’s right” and “Together, we will build a Better Dade”.