DAWSON COUNTY - Former Sheriff Billy Carlisle dropped out of the race for the Dawson County Board of Commissioners District 3 seat on Wednesday, two days after retired fire marshal and emergency services Chief Tim Satterfield declared his intent to run for the same seat.
“Right now is not the best time, I don’t feel like I can give it 100 percent of my time,” Carlisle said. “I didn’t see the point in going in there and not giving it 100 percent. If you’re going to do it, do it right.”
He wished Satterfield and any other potential candidates luck.
Satterfield, a 41-year fire service veteran, retired from Dawson County Emergency Services in December after nearly 13 years of service with the county.
Satterfield began his fire service career with Clayton County in 1976. He also worked for the city of McDonough and the city of Clearwater, Fla. before coming to work in Dawson County in May 2005.
He said he decided to run for the office because he feels like he still has something to give to the community.
Satterfield said his public service career was spent protecting lives and property, and that he also worked with fire prevention and with kids in school to teach them about fire safety. He said he has also worked to create a clean environment during his time in Dawson County.
“I want a safe environment but I want a clean environment too,” he said. “We helped a little bit with the planning and development department with the fire marshal's office, we’d go out and do some enforcement, helping them on some code issues, and we saw where people had done some illegal dumping. I think we can do a better job at it as far as helping clean the county.”
Satterfield spearheaded a new tire ordinance last summer to change the way tires are stored in the county. Used tires and scrap tires were roadside fixtures before the ordinance, creating a health and safety risk. Tires now must be stored where water can’t pool inside, as well as stacked no higher than 10 feet high and inside a container.
“It helped, and maybe we can do some other stuff,” he said.
Satterfield said that during his career, he interacted with state leaders and networked on a national level through the fire marshals association, as well as worked with other counties and cities in Georgia to lower their ISO ratings, which affect how much homeowners pay for insurance.
“When I started here, it was a 7/9/10 split, with 10 being the highest, means your premium is the highest,” he said. “So I worked with Billy (Thurmond) and Lanier (Swafford) and I looked at what we could buy with the money we had to get the most points to lower that rating...now we’re 3. There’s not many counties or cities in the nation that are 3.”
A large part of Satterfield’s experience has been in looking for grants. Should he be elected, aiding the county in obtaining grants for not only the fire department but other departments such as the sheriff’s department would be a top priority.
“There’s grants out there for not only public safety but there’s grants out there for road departments, there’s grants out there for parks and rec, there's grants out there for the senior center,” he said. “I think if there’s free money out there, we need to go for it.”
Along with prioritizing working with state officials, Satterfield also said he wants to see more collaboration with the city of Dawsonville.
“In the past (former Mayor) Joe Lane Cox worked hard to get grants. If it comes to where the city and the county’s got to work together to get a grant that’s going to benefit both...Dawsonville is the county seat and people have to come into the city to go to the courthouse, they have to come into the city to register to vote, they have to come into the city to do a lot of their business,” he said.
Satterfield began work as a contracted building inspector for the city in January.
Long term, Satterfield said he would like to see more improvements done on the roadways, mainly to improve intersections for safety. Work is planned at the intersection of Kilough Church Road and Ga. 400, and Satterfield said he would like to see that work sped up.
When asked what he thought about the current situation with Sheriff Jeff Johnson suing the board of commissioners for more funding, Satterfield said he didn’t know all of the details.
“It’s what the sheriff thinks he needs to protect the people and then what the board thinks. That’s going to be a challenge- you’ve got other departments that’s got needs too. That’s what you’ve got to look at,” he said. “Could some of the grants have helped what he needed? Could we go out there and find some other monies? You don’t want to have to raise the millage rate for one department.”
Satterfield also said he would like to see a training facility built for both the sheriff’s office and the emergency services department to train their personnel.
“We’ve got the land around the transfer station. If we could get some grant money to build that joint, state-of-the-art training facility, we could bring in outside people as far as charge for training, help recruit, not only from the sheriff’s department but for fire and EMS too,” he said. “If you have things like that for people to see, that attracts good candidates. I know Kevin (Tanner) had looked at that, I’d love to get in there if I get elected to see how that stands.”
Qualifying for the seat will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 5-8, and 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. March 9. The qualifying fee for the District 3 seat is $288.
The District 3 Commission Seat is currently held by Jimmy Hamby, who announced earlier this year that he would not be seeking a third term.