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When current Cherokee County Board of Commissioners District 2 Commissioner Ray Gunnin announced he would not be seeking reelection this year, three candidates announced their intent to run for the position.

A managing consultant with Thought Logic Consulting, Johnny Knocke said he feels his experience advising leaders of Fortune 500 companies and authoring the “White Paper,” detailing how to fix the transit system of the City of New York, makes him the best candidate for the position. In addition, Knocke said he understands the issues Cherokee County residents care about the most, is the only candidate who has proposed detailed solutions to these issues and is the only candidate who has leadership experience to help larger organizations operate effectively.

“I have relentlessly sought to understand recent concerns and have honest conversations about what I can solve as your commissioner. This is who I will continue to be as your commissioner... no issue is too small,” Knocke said. “Commissioners are not only responsible for zoning/land use, but also roads, first responders, parks, libraries, senior services, and ultimately your tax dollars. As a taxpayer, I will treat you as a customer for whom we always strive to deliver the best quality service.”

John Long has spent nearly three decades as a CEO in a service and manufacturing environment, surrounding himself with intelligent people to receive input from and reach a consensus with on important matters. He also said he has experience in streamlining budgetary matters, which will prove beneficial when trying to best spend taxpayer dollars, while he has also been involved in arbitration, mediation and dispute resolution, and helped the county with rewriting portions of its zoning ordinance in recent months. With all of these things under his belt, Long argued he is the best candidate to serve as the next commissioner for District 2.

“The position of county commissioner entails making fair and ethical judicial and legislative decisions, along with sound stewardship over the tax dollars of the public,” Long said. “I will bring problem solving, common sense, decisive action, negotiating and leadership skills to the table for the citizens of Cherokee County.”

After retiring from AT&T as a senior specialist detail engineer and from running his own karate studio, Richard Weatherby has spent the past seven and a half years as a member of the Cherokee County Planning Commission, which he feels makes him highly qualified for the commission seat. He cited his record on the planning commission, regularly standing in opposition to high-density zoning requests and with a verifiable record of supporting restrained growth to follow the county’s land use plan.

“As our county has grown, so has the role of our county commissioners. It requires more than a part-time effort to do the job well. As a retiree, I can and will devote a full-time effort as your commissioner,” Weatherby said. “I have been actively involved in our community and with our county government for a number of years. I bring the knowledge, experience, conservative values, commitment and strong desire to serve the people in our community. I am not a politician. I am a citizen who genuinely cares about Cherokee County and the people that live and work here. I will represent your best interests with honesty and integrity, and I will always be accessible to listen to your issues of concern.”

Knocke said he believes the most serious issue Cherokee County is having to deal with is investing in road infrastructure and ensuring growth in the county does not exceed its infrastructure capacity. Should he be elected to the position, Knocke’s top priority is to fix the county’s roads, while he also wants to focus on managing growth, finding ways to keep taxes low and bring plenty of quality jobs to the county.

Similarly, Weatherby said his top priorities would be to take on what he believes are the biggest issues facing the county today — growth and traffic. He explained Georgia Highway 140 was at the top of his list, but that a number of county roads were in need of upgrades as well. Weatherby was also adamant about bringing quality jobs to Cherokee County, keeping taxes low, ensuring county parks are effectively meeting the needs of local residents and establishing cooperative relationships with the cities in the county so everyone is working together for the benefit of the citizens of Cherokee County.

On a different note, Long said he felt the biggest issue the county has to deal with is a need to improve on its ethics, procedures and transparency. To this end, Long has stated he wants to institute an efficiently run government, implement community roundtable meetings to find resolutions to various concerns, abolish closed-door deals with developers and ensure fairness and due process for everybody in county laws.

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