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Lasseter's first move: Delay airport proposals

Shirley Lasseter

Shirley Lasseter

LAWRENCEVILLE -- As her first big move at the helm of the Gwinnett Board of Commissioners, Shirley Lasseter announced a reprieve for residents worried about a proposed airport privatization plan.

Officials had been scheduled this month to request proposals from companies qualified to be considered for the partnership. Three companies have submitted qualifications, including a firm that hopes to bring commercial airlines to Briscoe Field.

But with Lasseter's announcement, the firms deemed qualified to submit proposals won't be announced until January, after two new commissioners join the board. (A new chairman will be elected in March.)

"We feel that we owe it to our citizens to assure that we are reasonable weighing the pros and cons of what could potentially be a major policy decision," said Lasseter, the board's vice chairwoman who was given the duties of chairman with the resignation of Charles Bannister less than two weeks ago.

Lasseter said all of the commissioners agreed to the delay.

"We're not rushing this. We want people to understand we are taking the time to be thorough, accurate and correct," she said. "We will take as much time as it takes."

With two of her children and a grandchild in the audience, Lasseter began Tuesday's business session by sharing good news from the county, including applauding the recent prom held for senior citizens and congratulating the local school system in being named the top urban district in the country just two hours before.

"We've always known that our school system is absolutely great," she said of the winners of the 2010 Broad Prize for Urban Education. "We're very proud of the faculty, staff and students at our schools, and congratulations goes to them."

Commissioner Bert Nasuti said Lasseter did well during her first turn with the gavel, noting that she gained plenty of experience as mayor of Duluth prior to being elected commissioner.

"We're going to keep moving things forward and do what we need to do," he said, adding that he and others offered to help since district commissioner is only a part-time job. "We'll pitch in for her and do everything we need to do."

After the meeting, Lasseter's grandson, 4-year-old Jude Limon, rushed through the aisles of the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center auditorium, saying he was proud of his grandma and excited to watch her on the computer.

"I've got a very supportive family," Lasseter said with a smile.