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Braselton native, newcomer vying for mayor

Editor's note: This is the first in a series of local city election previews that will run during the next two weeks. The previews will culminate with an election guide to be published on Nov. 1.

BRASELTON - For the second time, a Braselton is not on the ballot to become mayor of the small town named after the family.

Pat Graham bested Henry Braselton eight years ago, and the family dynasty ended.

This time, as Graham sets her sights on the legislature, residents will choose between a Braselton native and a relative newcomer.

Ralph Richardson Jr., who has served on the town council for the past six years, is hoping to finish major projects such as the redesign of downtown. Facing him is Bill Orr, a businessman who wants to use his financial expertise to steer the town, which does not charge a millage rate, through the current economic doldrums.

"I always try to give back to my community," said Orr, who has worked on American Heart Association and Junior Achievement projects. "My interest is making sure Braselton remains fiscally responsible during these difficult times."

Orr, who went to high school nearby in Hall County, said the city is in a good position, with a new hospital proposed not far away.

"Braselton has a choice," he said. "We can become a truck stop on (Interstate) 85 or take advantage of the resources in the community of Chateau Elan and the downtown area."

Richardson said he is excited about the plans to realign Ga. Highway 124, which will allow for a new amphitheater and town green near the old Braselton Brothers store.

"We hope to revitalize the whole downtown area," he said, adding that the tax allocation district created for the area will help.

Both men have gone door-to-door to campaign for mayor, and Richardson said he hopes his roots in the community convince people he has Braselton's best interests at heart.

"Braselton's home to me," he said. "I love this little town."

Town Council

Also on the Nov. 3 ballots is a race to replace Richardson on the Town Council.

That race pits political consultant Bill Greene against real estate broker Peggy Slappey.

Like Orr, Slappey also hopes to use her business acumen to help the city.

"We can work together with purposeful planning," she said, adding that she liked the downtown vision. "I want to be a rudder that helps guide the ship."

She said she is committed to the protection of personal property rights and believes the city should support and enhance the four counties that converge in its borders.

Greene did not return repeated phone calls over the past week.

But in a story early this year when Greene announced his run, the political consultant said he looked forward to continuing Richardson's success on council.

A resident of the Falls of Braselton and father of two, Greene staged an unsuccessful campaign for Congress in 2007. In addition to working on campaigns, Greene teaches political science at Gainesville State College.

Jeremy K. Britt, who filed qualifying papers, dropped out of the race.

Dudley Ray, an incumbent on the council, was not challenged for re-election.

SideBar: At a glance

Mayor

· Bill Orr

· Age: 48

· Occupation: Financial advisor

· Education: Bachelor's in business administration from the University of Georgia, MBA from Carnegie Mellon University

· Political experience: Worked on campaigns

· Family: Wife Garol, two daughters, Ali and Nina

· If elected: Richardson wants to carry on with work to implement the city's 2030 plan, including quality growth, revitalizing downtown and creating a town green and amphitheater

· Ralph Richardson Jr.

· Age: 56

· Occupation: Retired military

· Education: High school at Jackson County High

· Political experience: Town council for six years

· Family: Wife Becky, three children and seven grandchildren

· If elected: "My interest is making sure Braselton remains fiscally responsible during these difficult time." Orr also wants to ensure the city grows in a responsible way.

Town Council Post 2

· Bill Greene

· Age: 45

· Occupation: Political consultant

· Education: Not available

· Political experience: Unsuccessful campaign for Congress in 2007

· Family: Father of two

· If elected: Not available

· Peggy Slappey

· Age: 61

· Occupation: Real estate broker

· Education: Some college

· Political experience: None

· Family: Husband Thomas, two sons, two granddaughters

· If elected: "I believe a city is a form of a business," Slappey said of her intent to manage the town. She said she wants to work toward "purposeful planning."