Candidates face off for city council

  • Candidates face off for city council
    Candidates face off for city council
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By Matt Aiken
The Nugget

The race is on for Dahlonega City Council.
Qualifying came to a close last week with a total of five candidates announcing their intentions to compete for three seats on Election Day this November.
The Nugget recently caught up with the candidates and asked them to share their reasons for running for office.

Post 4

With incumbent Bruce Hoffman declining to run for reelection, Post 4 is up for grabs. And two well-known local business owners Johnny Ariemma and Tony Owens, will vie for that position.
Owens has served as president of the Sunrise Rotary and on the Board of Directors for the Chamber of Commerce. He is currently the chairman of the Downtown Development Authority.
He said he’s hoping to help direct future city growth in a positive direction.
“As Dahlonega moves into its next phase of growth, we will need strong leadership for strategic planning and I would like to be a part of  strengthening the communication and partnership with the county as we  prepare for the development at the end of GA 400 at Highway 60,” he said. “My love  for Dahlonega and protecting the historical character of our town,  while planning controlled growth, are the driving forces behind my decision to run for city council.”
Ariemma is a former city council member and owns multiple businesses in Dahlonega and Lumpkin County. He said he’s hoping to lend his business savvy to the position.
“I have a keen sense and understanding of finances and financial modeling to produce the best outcome, whether it is a personal business venture or municipal decision,” he said. “Thinking outside the box is also one of my strengths. We have a good council and certainly everyone on council means well. I believe I can work with the existing council to help make the best decisions to benefit the entire city of Dahlonega.”

Post 6

The Post 6 seat will see competition between incumbent city council member Ron Larson and challenger Dewey Moye.
Moye is a lifelong local educator who has served as superintendent of the Lumpkin County School system. He said he’s running because he wants to continue to “give back and serve” the community.
“I have a broad experience base in personnel, finance, facilities and planning,” he said. “Our community is in a growth corridor and will be facing some challenging decisions from finance to economic development. We will be facing some very challenging infrastructure decisions as well. I believe in servant leadership. I have the experience, commitment, and determination to contribute in a positive manner to enhance the historical and economical significance of Dahlonega.”
Larson teaches management, strategic planing and ethics at UNG’s Mike Cottrell College of Business and has undergone nearly 200 hours of training with the Georgia Municipal Association.
He said he wants to continue the recent progress made by the city during his term.
“Our city is in excellent financial condition,” he said. “Improvements continue to be made to make it even better. Adding the All Abilities Playground in Hancock Park, financed with the 8 percent Hotel/Motel Tax approved by this council, provided a venue for tourists as well as for the kids in and around Dahlonega. Completing the Wimpy Mill Park adds another venue to enjoy near the reservoir and is part of the on-going trails we are in the process of completing within the city limits. I want to see these types of projects continue.”

Post 5

Current council member and businesswoman JoAnne Taylor will run unopposed in her bid for reelection.
“Being a public servant has made good use of skills I've acquired from business experience and being a volunteer in our community,” she said. “The current Council is a good team who work together well, who don't always agree, but who focus on the good of the community. I'd like to continue finding ways to reduce costs, offer assistance for the roll-out of the new, much-needed financial software, and to add amenities to our community.”
As the big Election Day of November 5 draws near The Nugget will provide a more in-depth Q-&-A with the candidates.

Due to space constraints The Nugget was unable to run the candidates responses in their entirety in the paper. We've included those responses below:

Johnny Ariemma
Dahlonega has been my home since 1996.  My wife, Catherine, and I raised our daughters here.  Together we have built and operate numerous businesses within the city of Dahlonega and Lumpkin County.  My run for Dahlonega City Council is inspired by my love for and my commitment to give back to my community.  My wife and I serve a variety of charitable organizations.  Recently, after spending several hours reviewing the City budget for 2020, I developed numerous concerns regarding taxes, historic preservation, services, and the future direction of Dahlonega.  City taxpayers and small business owners take the brunt of the financial burden to run the city.  We have additional partners, such as UNG as well as Lumpkin County government.  We need to all work together to build a better infrastructure and community.  I believe I have the skills to do just this. I have a keen sense and understanding of finances and financial modeling to produce the best outcome, whether it is a personal business venture or municipal decision.  Thinking outside the box is also one of my strengths. We have a good council and certainly everyone on council means well.  I believe I can work with the existing council to help make the best decisions to benefit the entire city of Dahlonega.

Tony Owens
There are several things that prompted me to run for city council this election.  As an owner of two downtown businesses, The Fudge Factory and The Corner Kitchen, I had the privilege of growing up and spending most of the last 38 years on the downtown square.  I have had the 
opportunity to redevelop a long vacant property on East Main Street  (formerly Leonard’s Flowers) and bring life back to that property.  Dahlonega is not only the lifeblood of my businesses, it is where I am raising my family and the decisions that are being made by the city 
council directly affect my life and family in many ways.  For the past 10 years, I have served, in a volunteer role, on our Downtown Development Authority and have served as Chairman on that Authority for the past two years.  In that role, I have had the opportunity to work with not only the City staff, but the Council as well.  I feel that experience has prepared me well for a run for City Council. I can offer a unique perspective to the Council through my years of  business ownership, being a downtown commercial property owner, member of the Downtown Business Association, having served on the Board of Directors for the Chamber of Commerce, President of the Sunrise Rotary Club, and serving on several boards for local non-profits.  As  Dahlonega moves into its next phase of growth, we will need strong leadership for strategic planning and I would like to be a part of strengthening the communication and partnership with the county as we prepare for the development at the end of GA 400 at Hwy 60.  My love 
for Dahlonega and protecting the historical character of our town, while planning controlled growth, are the driving forces behind my decision to run for city council.


JoAnne Taylor
Being a public servant has made good use of skills I've acquired from business experience and being a volunteer in our community. The current Council is a good team who work together well, who don't always agree, but who focus on the good of the community. I'd like to continue finding ways to reduce costs, offer assistance for the roll-out of the new, much-needed financial software, and to add amenities to our community. Continuing to work collaboratively with the County and with UNG will be an ongoing benefit to our community. Managing growth will be a big challenge in the upcoming years and will be a major focus for the City Council.

Ron Larson
It has been an honor to serve the citizens of Dahlonega for these past almost 4 years. We have a great team of Council members and our Mayor who work well together making Dahlonega a great place to live, work and visit. I want to continue to serve with them.
Our City is in excellent financial condition. Improvements continue to be made to make it even better. Adding the All Abilities Playground in Hancock Park (financed with the 8% Hotel/Motel Tax approved by this Council) provided a venue for tourists as well as for the kids in and around Dahlonega. Completing the Wimpy Mill Park adds another venue to enjoy near the reservoir and is part of the on-going trails we are in the process of completing within the City Limits. I want to see these types of projects continue.
We have been able to develop excellent working relationships with the County, UNG and the Board of Education due to open, honest communications. We have held annual sessions with the County Commissioners to share information and see how we can work together and avoid duplication of services. This was demonstrated by the efficient negotiation and passage of the Service Delivery Agreement between the City and the County, passed every 10 years. We have partnered with the County for use of SPLOST funds to develop the new intersection that is coming at Oak Grove Road. I want to continue to maintain and build upon these relationships which benefit both City and County residents. I continue to teach PT at UNG in the Mike Cottrell College of Business, teaching management, strategic planning and ethics. These topics can be applied to my life as I work as a Council person serving our citizens.
Having completed nearly 200 hours of training during the past nearly 4 years, provided by the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA), has helped me grow and become even more knowledgeable in how a city should be managed. I hope I can use these skills to better serve in the years ahead.
I would like to ask for your vote for my re-election. Thank you.

Dewey Moye
I am running because I want to give back and serve this great community. I have served as Superintendent, Principal and Assistant Principal in the Lumpkin County School System for 35 years. All three of my children have grown up here and received  a great education in a wonderful school system.Several family members have attended UNG as well. I have a broad experience base in personnel, finance, facilities and planning. Our community is in a growth corridor and will be facing some challenging decisions from finance to economic development. We will be facing some very challenging infrastructure decisions as well. I believe in servant leadership. I have the experience, commitment, and determination to contribute in a positive manner to enhance the historical and economical significance of Dahlonega. I am running for Post 6.