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District 1 commission candidates work to establish trust

ELECTION CENTRAL

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LAWRENCEVILLE -- When they began their campaigns for county commission months ago, Jace Brooks and Laurie McClain knew that trust would be a top issue for voters as they knocked on doors.

Then two months before they were set to square off at the polls, government trust was once again thrust into the spotlight, when incumbent District 1 commissioner Shirley Lasseter resigned on the day she pleaded guilty to a federal bribery charge.

With no Democrat on the ballot, Brooks and McClain will square off in the July 31 Republican primary -- just a week before Lasseter faces sentencing -- to decide who will replace her.

"The trust of the citizens is precious yet very fragile, and that trust has been severely damaged over the past few years," Brooks, a former Suwanee councilman, said. "I believe this process of restoring trust must be built upon consistently doing what you say you're going to do, transparency and active citizen engagement."

Both candidates have entered politics after years of working in the background, Brooks as a city planning commissioner before joining the council and McClain getting involved in county roles aimed at having citizens help trim government expenses.

Both also have a background in finance and have set a high priority on bringing business acumen to the Board of Commissioners.

"My top priority will be to look for ways that government can encourage job creation in the county," McClain said. "I will review and analyze incentives and other strategic avenues to bring more higher paying, quality jobs to the county. One way to do this is to make it easier to be in business here and I have some ideas on how to do that."

Brooks, who is running on his experience leading Suwanee at a time when the city was named a top 10 place to live by Money Magazine, also wants to work on attracting businesses to the community.

"An expanding tax base and rising home values should ultimately lead to lower taxes for Gwinnett citizens and businesses," he said. "The key is to elect a leader with the character and competence to accomplish these goals."

At a time when trust in elected officials is low, McClain stresses that she is a businesswoman, not a politician. But she has been close enough to the government to have experience and insight into issues.

"I am a conservative with common sense," she said. "I am a firm believer in government being no larger than is necessary to provide core services to its stakeholders. I will immediately begin to look for ways to streamline processes and drive more efficient and higher quality customer service."

District 1 spans the Interstate 85 corridor in northern Gwinnett from east of Norcross to Sugar Hill.

Candidate bios and Q&As

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Jace Brooks

Jace Brooks

• Party: Republican

• Age: 43

• Education: MBA in Marketing from Georgia State University; MA in Christian Education from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; BS in Finance from Louisiana Tech University

• Occupation: Financial Planner

• Political Experience: Suwanee City Council, 2002 – 2012; Suwanee Planning/Zoning Board, 2001 – 2002

• Family: Wife Kirste; Children Ally, 11, and Aidan, 11

What is your political philosophy and how will it drive your role in office?

I am a conservative who believes in efficient government, low taxes, and personal liberty and responsibility. I’m the only candidate in this race with a proven record of cutting spending, lowering taxes and attracting jobs. I will continue to implement these proven conservative solutions at the county level.

Name your top goal or issue you want to tackle.

The top issue is restoring trust in county government. Beyond that, we must create the proper environment in Gwinnett to effectively attract new businesses and high-paying private sector jobs. New jobs will help expand the tax base, fill our empty houses and retail centers and improve Gwinnett home values.

What sets you apart from your competitor?

Character and competence. As a Suwanee councilmember and dedicated family man, I’ve demonstrated I have the character to build trust and the competence to lead. During my tenure, Suwanee became award-winning, ranked as a Money Magazine top 10 place to live and Kiplinger’s #3 in the nation for raising children.

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Laurie McClain

Laurie McClain

• Party: Republican

• Age: 48

• Education: Parkview High School, 1981; BBA in Accounting from Georgia State University, 1986

• Occupation: Certified Public Accountant

• Political Experience: Appointed to Gwinnett Water & Sewer Authority 2011, Chairman’s Budget Review Committee, 2010, 2011

• Family: Unmarried; Children Paul, 23, Heather, 20, Wilson, 11

What is your political philosophy and how will it drive your role in office?

I am a conservative with common sense. I am a firm believer in government being no larger than is necessary to provide core services to its stakeholders. I will immediately begin to look for ways to streamline processes and drive more efficient and higher quality customer service.

Name your top goal or issue you want to tackle.

My top priority will be to look for ways that government can encourage job creation in the county. I will review and analyze incentives and other strategic avenues to bring more higher paying, quality jobs to the county. One way to do this is to make it easier to be in business here and I have some ideas on how to do that.

What sets you apart from your competitor?

I am not a politician. As a CPA for 27 years, I have worked exclusively with small business owners and I understand the challenges that they face doing business in this county. As a long time resident of Gwinnett (35 years), my loyalty is to the county not any particular community. Even though I don’t have elected government experience, I have a very thorough knowledge of the issues of this county and I’m ready to tackle them.

Comments

Ashley 1 year, 8 months ago

Neither one say anything of importance. Tell me a priority you would have once in office.

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Say_that_again 1 year, 8 months ago

If only we had someone with progressive ideas in the race! I agree with Ashley and would add. Nothing new, been tried, didn't work. Look up Einstein's definition of insanity. Definitely prevalent in Gwinnett!

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dentaldawg83 1 year, 8 months ago

this article gives me all the info I need to make a choice.

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R 1 year, 8 months ago

Time to DEFINE the "CORE" Government services you support...

For general consumption; The “CORE government services” are the ones that can legally bypass competitive bidding requirements.

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Ashley 1 year, 8 months ago

Well I am glad for Dentaldawg, but I see no difference. Someone tell me why one is better than the other.

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BufordGuy 1 year, 8 months ago

One thing to consider is any commissioner living within the corporate limits of a city will be directly impacted by only about half their decisions.

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Cleanupguy 1 year, 8 months ago

My suggestion is to whatcha call TALK to each of the candidates - WOW, whatta concept there, right? Based upon that, I'll have to go with Jace - he clearly seems to have been to the clue store. Laurie sounded a bit too eager to say anything necessary to win. When asked about her participation on "Fly Gwinnett Forward" for example, she backtracked and said that as a commissioner she would not have voted for the Briscoe proposal as written. I was for it before I was against it, but not really either?

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KimMD 1 year, 8 months ago

If your happy with the status quo....then by all means vote for Jace...However, I support Laurie McClain ..100%. Several people I know that have talked with her have been impressed by her ability to recognize the problems that exist in the current county government and the problems that individuals and business who reside here face when dealing with the county government, especially commissioners.

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Dubbin 1 year, 8 months ago

The status quo is a crook who is going to Federal prison. I think either Brooks or McClain would be better than what we've had. McClain's eagerness to be on the pro-airport expansion bandwagon has bothered me from the beginning and her trying to move away from a position she so strongly advocated before makes me think even more critically about her.

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Dubbin 1 year, 8 months ago

I emailed several questions to both candidates. I received lengthy, detailed and timely responses (not all of which I agreed with) from Mr. Brooks. I've received nothing from Ms McClain despite a second letter sent to her asking for a response. If somebody won't follow up when they are RUNNING for office you can bet they won't be attentive while IN office.

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Cleanupguy 1 year, 8 months ago

Almost the same deal here, Dubbin. Interesting to see that the political "plants" are busy here (love those generalizations - "I've heard that...." isn't worth squat compared to an "I spoke with"). Anyway, I was only granted scant minutes with Laurie on the phone, no straight answers, just bum's rush rhetoric and backpedaling on Briscoe, whereas we heard a knock on our door from Jace......

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kevin 1 year, 8 months ago

TRUST? I will trust the CPA a hundred times more than a longtime previous politician. You are not thinking if you think Brooks is going to be good for a large county like Gwinnett vs. a tiny city like Suwanee, a place where everyone votes yes because they always have money to spend in Suwanee. Brooks won't be able to handle the finances of Gwinnett for 4 yrs without him voting for a tax increase. Brooks' history is from La, a close second state to corrupt Illinois. I will vote for the Georgia girl. Please vote for McClain and you won't be sorry in 4 yrs.

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