About this series
This article is the second in an ongoing Sunday series spotlighting some of the fascinating people in Forsyth.
* Leading the charge for Sharon Springs.
NORTH FORSYTH — Since taking office in 2012, Forsyth Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills has been one of the busier and perhaps more visible members of the county’s governing body.
For her service to the community, which has included anti-drug efforts, Mills this year has received the Don Hendricks Partnership Award from Forsyth County Schools and Association County Commissioners of Georgia Legislative Advocate of the Year.
Mills works as president of CMC Trucking Company and as a real estate agent for Bryan Properties, and association that some opponents contend makes her more likely to favor higher density zonings.
A seventh-generation resident of the county and a graduate of what was then Forsyth County High School, Mills is also a mother of two and has two grandchildren. On the commission, she represents District 4, which covers much of north Forsyth.
Question: Since taking office, what has surprised you the most during your time on the commission?
Answer: “I have been pleasantly surprised with the things that I’ve been able to achieve. I always believe God has his hand in things, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the way things have been able to align, that I felt like have come together.
“I have been surprised by the harshness of the job to begin with. I have watched the way people use social media and the way that they freely accuse you, or the anger that people lash out at you and the criticism against you.
“People think, I think, that because you run for commissioner that you don’t have feelings or that your family doesn’t have feelings or that you do things because you care about your county or that you have ulterior motives or they think you’re a crook. They think that once you become a politician you automatically become an evil person.
“You just have to have a thick skin and not pay attention to it.”
Q: What got you interested in community service projects?
A: “If you started looking at the drug courts or drug council … through the course of that the domino effect that took effect with that, now we’re having our fourth or fifth Forsyth County Drug Summit.
“Had it not been for that, I wouldn’t have realized that addiction is so powerful and that a lot of it starts at such a young, young age. Realizing that, I starting meeting with the high schools and realizing that if you want to beat addiction you have to start at a young age. Through that, and working with the sheriff again, we realized we needed to start programs in the elementary school.
“Myself and [American Proteins owner] Tommy Bagwell and my dad contributed a total of $45,000 and we bought computers for [students without devices at an elementary school in her district]. That way, kids could have that technology and do summer school.
“If I didn’t do one other thing, I feel better about that than just about anything, because I got to sit and listen that those children now have a level playing field.
“We started through MentorMe, an afterschool music program to help with that also, dealing with a specialty focus.”
Q: As your family has lived in the county for generations, how do you think that affects your viewpoint as a commissioner?
A: “Everything that I go into, I feel that it is about creating balance. I want to be fair to everyone involved … people start saying, ‘Oh, you lean toward this or you’re a friend of the landowner or you’re a friend of the developer.’ No I’m not. I want to be balanced. I want to be fair to everyone.
“[Zonings are] my least favorite part of the job, but that is a tiny part of what I do … When I graduated high school here in 1980, there was 2,700 people in the county. So when I hear people say, ‘I moved here two years ago, and I don’t like the growth that I’m seeing,’ I don’t really panic over that, because I’ve lived with growth my whole life.”
Q: Speaking of being a longtime resident, what was it like being involved in [former north Forsyth concert venue] Lanierland?
A: “My dad bought into Lanierland when I was about 7 years old. I started out in the concession stand, I pumped Cokes, then I became an usher. [After that] I worked in the ticket office selling tickets … then I became the general manager for eight years and I booked all the talent. That was a really fun job.
“The funniest, funniest story … Marty Stuart was on tour with Sammy Kershaw and they were doing pranks back and forth. [Stuart] called my dad and he said, ‘When we get to Lanierland, I want you to have a pregnant woman come backstage and act like she’s pregnant with Sammy Kershaw’s baby.’
“We went back there, and I said, ‘They have got a warrant for a paternity test right now.’ We played it to the hilt and he wouldn’t come off the bus … then he comes out with $15,000 cash, wanting to give her the money to leave.
“Finally, after this went on for 15 minutes — and nobody was cracking a smile — Marty Stuart came out and screamed, ‘Got you!’ Sammy Kershaw was screaming curse words, and it was this whole big embarrassing thing.”
Q: Finally, what is something that others may find fascinating to learn about you?
A: “I love being an advocate. I love fighting for things that I believe in. I love fighting for the least among these, for the people who are less fortunate … I love fighting things that people might forget about.
“Or I love fighting for the transportation bond [voters approved last year]. I love the fact that we’re getting an overpass [on Ga. 400] at [Hwy.] 369, or things that others might not have thought was possible.
“I love looking for solutions. I’m a problem solver.”