• Lumpkin County Republican candidates (from left) Clarence Grindle, Jeff Moran and Mark Zeller are on the Primary ballot for the Board of Commissioners District 4.

Contenders compete for District 4 seat


Lumpkin County Republicans will chose between Clarence Grindle, Jeff Moran and Mark Zeller on the Primary ballot for the Board of Commissioners District 4 seat. Grindle held the seat for two terms between 2006 and 2014. Both Moran and Zeller are first-time office seekers.

The winner of the race will face either Teresa Gay or Dennis Hoover in the General Election in November. 

The Nugget has asked those on the Primary ballot to respond to 3 questions to help voters make up their minds. Each candidate had the questions in advance and was given the same deadline for turning in their responses. 


Early Voting/Registration

Early voting begins Monday, April 30, Monday-Friday and runs through May 18 at the Voter Elections and Registration Office, 56 Short Street. Office hours for the week of April 30-May 4 are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The following two weeks voters can cast their ballots from 8 a.m.-7p.m.

There will also be one Saturday for voters to cast their ballots. The office will be open Saturday, April 12, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Absentee ballots are available for download by logging onto sos.ga.gov or at the Elections & Voter Registration office. 

Deadline to register or make address changes for the May 22 election is April 24.


Clarence Grindle

Education: Graduate, Lumpkin County High School; Barber School; ACCG Certified County Commissioner.

Occupation: Self employed owner of Grindle Barber Shop; owns and manages various real estate properties.


Jeff Moran

Education: Master of Arts degree in management from American Military University.

Occupation: Senior Army Instructor for the Lumpkin County JROTC Leadership Program.


Mark Zeller

Education: Graduate Coral Gables Senior High School, Troy State University.

Occupation: Retired military, advocate for Veterans at Large and in support of Veterans Benefits/Veterans Rights school, trained by the V.F.W.


Q: What do you see as the biggest problem facing the county and what would you propose to solve it?


Grindle: While growth is inevitable, it must be controlled if at all possible. We have to find ways to attract more industry without destroying what makes our community so appealing. As our digest continues to shrink we have to accept growth or be willing to pay increased property taxes. I do not support increasing property tax as an option. I do support low-impact businesses that are tailored to create jobs, increase the digest and not destroy our landscape and way of life. 


Moran: The biggest problem facing this county continues to be its economic development. There needs to be an increase in commercial and industrial growth to offset the demand for property taxes. The citizens of Lumpkin County travel out of our county to work, eat, shop and seek medical care. In doing so we put money into the economy of our neighboring counties instead of our own. With the effective management and planning of our inevitable growth, we can achieve economic development while still maintaining the charm of Dahlonega and preserving what is great about Lumpkin County.


Zeller: It seems to me that the local government officials have been leaving the citizens out of the decisions being made for our county. I believe elected officials are in office to serve the citizens, not deceive and make decisions without regard. I do not agree that our government was set up to be a “sausage making process,” as I was quoted by one elected official. I believe that any change being made in the county should be published in the newspaper months in advance so the citizens can have a say in what they want or don’t want. For example, “The Indian Statue;” before any other agency or school is asked about moving that piece of history, ask the citizens first. The Lumpkin County Commissioner website also needs to be two-way (representatives to citizens) interactive platform.


Q: If you could change one policy the county currently has, what would that be?


Grindle: Our current board of commissioners has done an exceptional job establishing policies that would help address the litter problem that we’re facing. I would propose an approach that would include education, enforcement and prevention. A clean community creates a sense of pride.


Moran: As county commissioner, there will not be just one policy but several policies that will have to be reviewed, researched and decided on. So instead of one, here are a few policies that I feel Lumpkin County needs to revisit, revise, strengthen or establish: The current land use policy, the litter problem and school safety.  

When residents purchase a home or property in this county, they need to be secure that land use rules for property around them are not going to change. To effectively manage growth we need to make the land use plan more consistent, specific and enforceable to eliminate any ambiguity or perception of favoritism. This is essential if this county is going to effectively manage and get ahead of the inevitable growth of Lumpkin County.

I stand by our tourism industry and people come from all over to enjoy the many things we love about Lumpkin County; at the same time sinking money into our economy. Unfortunately the litter has gotten so bad that it could actually hurt the tourism industry. We need a proactive and multifaceted approach to the litter problem in order to significantly reduce its negative impact.

The safety of our youth should be paramount. We owe it to the children of our county to ensure that they have the safest environment possible to learn, grow and develop into productive citizens. In light of recent events, I feel we cannot do enough to improve policy ensuring the safety and protection of our children. Again, there is no simple answer to this and it will take a collaborative effort between our Board of Education, Sheriff’s Office, and County Commission to do the best we can in securing our students.


Zeller: Currently the County Commission Chair can pick and choose who he wants to for his own reasons to have work on county projects that are under $20,000.00. For example, the architect who was picked for the library was chosen because he had done other projects in the county. Cronyism? That does not seem like a sound business practice to me. For a small rural county like Lumpkin, that is a large sum to be spent without an open bid and accountability practice. I think $3,000.00 is a more reasonable sum that would be posted in the newspaper so the citizens are aware of where their money is going; and why $3,000.00 and above will be open to bids so all businesses in this community can have an opportunity to participate. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.


Q: What makes you the best candidate for this post:


Grindle: While being a life-long resident is not a requirement, it gives me a very distinct understanding of how our community has evolved. It helps me to understand our history, which in turn helps shape our future. I have served on the Board of Commissioners before and I continue to be active within the community and have always listened to the concerns of my neighbors. While much work has been done, there is still work to do. I will listen to their concerns and make sure they have a voice in local government.

I care deeply  about Lumpkin County and its future. I have contributed to it my entire life. It is my desire to leave it better than we found it for future generations. I would be honored to represent District 4 and all of Lumpkin County as your commissioner. I am asking for your support and vote May 22.


Moran: The fact that the Army values are not just words for me—I have dedicated my life to internalizing and practicing them on a daily basis. “Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage” are all virtues that I do my best to implement in my work, family life and own self-being. As a retired U.S. Army Major with 15 years of enlisted service prior to my commission I have served in leadership positions in Southwest Asia in 1991, Iraq in 2005-’06 and Afghanistan in 2009-’10 (earning two Bronze Star Medals). During my last assignment on active duty, I served as an Inspector General—the eyes, ears and voice of the Commanding General which makes me uniquely qualified to be your V.O.I.C.E. on the Board of Commissioners. After retirement from the military I chose to continue service, this time to the youth of our county as the Senior Army Instructor of its well respected Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Leadership Program.  Along with mentoring cadets to become tomorrow’s future leaders, service to the community is very important to me and I feel I can use my leadership, experience and interpersonal relationship skills to be an effective county commissioner.  

In my effort to energetically represent the citizens of District 4, I have come up with five points that represent what I believe and what I will do if elected.  Let me be your V.O.I.C.E.

• Vision for the EFFECTIVE management of growth while preserving what is great about Lumpkin County.

• Optimize opportunities to support and increase the tourism industry.

• Increase commercial and industrial growth to offset property taxes,

• Conservative government and fiscal policy beliefs with the interpersonal relationship skills and leadership experience to get things done.

• Enhance government transparency and increase communication between our residents and the board.

Although I am going to try, it is impossible for me to meet everyone and ask you personally, so I would like to take this opportunity to ask you for your vote as County Commissioner of District 4.  Remember, everyone votes for every county commissioner regardless of what district you reside in.

Contact me by email at votejeffmoran@gmail.com or on Facebook at Vote for Jeff Moran.


Zeller: My Officer’s Creed is, “I will not Lie, Cheat, Steal or Destroy nor Tolerate those that do.” And, I have been advocating for others most of my adult life. So, I understand the meaning of “selfless-service” to others. I also had Oversight and Control of Military Contracts to also understand the running of Government Service.

I love Lumpkin and its atmosphere. I purchased land back in the early 1980s and the beauty of the mountains must be protected and they inspire me.

I know the families and their history from working at the Lumpkin County Farmers Co-Op for Dale Copeland and at Burlington Pinetree, working for Frank Cain and meeting many families back then and now. I put five children in the Lumpkin County School System. And was a Scout Master also.

I understand how the people who live here want to protect the beauty of the area. I also understand what it feels like to hit a road block in the government here. The people elected into office are not to have power over us. They are to represent their citizens, not treat it like it is their own fiefdom. I want to welcome back the people of Lumpkin to their government.

I am pleased The Dahlonega Nugget has been so kind to allow me the opportunity to address the citizens and share with you my vision that should be for all. Not just for a few of the many. I have learned most recently of the defaults that are not working and hope to remedy this. Above are just few of the points and if you wish to tell me of more I am willing to listen. Please do give me a call at (706)864-8988.

Second Slider: 

The Dahlonega Nugget

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 36,
Dahlonega, GA 30533

Phone: 706-864-3613
Fax: 706-864-5812