Dacula's Wilbanks stays mayor; newcomer wins council seat

DACULA - Incumbent Jimmy Wilbanks won another term as this city's mayor Tuesday, and newcomer Greg Reeves grabbed a council seat by defeating 14-year council member R.G. Hale.

Wilbanks, who has led Dacula since 2002, received 228 votes, beating challengers Hubert Wells (103 votes) and Terrance Brand (95 votes).

In one of the largest turnouts for this fast-growing city in eastern Gwinnett County, 416 voters cast their ballots - nearly doubling turnout in the 2002 election.

Wilbanks said he campaigned door to door, making a pledge to preserve the quality of life in a city threatened by eastern's Gwinnett's rapid commercial and residential development.

Rush-hour traffic jams, new restaurants and grocery stores have already come to this city of nearly 4,500 people. But Wilbanks wants to retain the charm of the 100-year-old city, where residents still think it's important to plan a big Fourth of July parade and know what kind of team the Dacula Falcons are putting on the field.

The challenge is deciding how the city draws commercial growth to boost the tax base, but also preserves its small-town feel.

"That's the thin edge I mean," Wilbanks said. "It's not something that's going to be easy."

City Council

Incumbent City Councilman Wendell Holcombe, who ran unopposed, received 327 votes - the top vote-getter in the election.

A 24-year veteran of city politics, Holcombe said Dacula is a lot better off than it was when he joined the council years ago. Holcombe plans to battle the city's traffic problem and expand the sewer system.

In the only race for a council seat, the 35-year old Reeves defeated longtime council member R.G. Hale.

Reeves, who received 232 votes to Hale's 189, campaigned on the promise he would improve the relationship with Gwinnett County officials, who will be key players in the city's attempt to expand its sewer system and increase police patrols.