Long DOT pick a boon for county

It doesn't hurt that a Gwinnettian has the ear of the governor.

The moves this week to change the culture at the Georgia Department of Transportation could be great news for Gwinnett.

While former House Transportation Chairman Vance Smith, who lives in Pine Mountain, was tapped as the organization's commissioner by the State Transportation Board, it was a Lilburn man who was given the political appointment of transportation planning director.

Gov. Sonny Perdue picked Todd Long, who has worked as the lead engineer for the district that includes Gwinnett, for the job.

Not since Wayne Shackelford, and then Tom Moreland, was transportation commissioner has a local man had that much power to build a road.

"I'm thrilled. That's excellent news," Commissioner Mike Beaudreau said of the appointment, describing Long as a true professional. "He's definitely a doer and not a sayer. ... That's very good news for Gwinnett County and the rest of the state."

Also this week, Rudy Bowen, a home builder from Suwanee, was picked as the vice chairman of the State Transportation Board.

Lieutenant governor's office to listen

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle's staff have planned listening sessions with Gwinnett residents this week.

The two events, where Cagle's northern field representative Dennis Pitts will talk to constituents, are scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Lilburn City Hall on Monday and the same time frame at Lawrenceville City Hall on Tuesday.

"It is very important to me that our office remain available and accessible to Georgians who have questions and concerns regarding state issues," Cagle said. "As we look for ways to aid and connect citizens with appropriate agencies and solutions, we don't want people to have to drive to Atlanta for a personal meeting. It is our goal to be convenient and come to them."

Cagle encouraged local elected officials to also attend the sessions to keep him abreast of issues in the community.

Earlier this year, Cagle dropped out of the 2010 governor's race and said he would seek re-election instead, citing health reasons.

The Gainesville Republican has drawn the endorsements of more than 100 mayors, including Auburn Mayor Linda Blechinger, Braselton Mayor Pat Graham, Lawrenceville Mayor Rex Millsaps, Loganville Mayor Ray Nunley, Sugar Hill Mayor Gary Pirkle and Winder Mayor George Thompson, according to a press release.

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Camie Young can be reached via e-mail at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.