SOUTH FORSYTH — Election season is officially under way in Forsyth County with the announcement Thursday that a local business executive and investment adviser will seek the District 2 post on the commission in the Republican primary on May 24.
“I just want to keep [Forsyth County] the best place to live, and I can talk about it or I can jump in and try to do something,” Rick Swope said. “So I figured I’d work with the latter for the change.”
Swope said he was motivated to run by issues such as traffic and crowding in schools.
“It’s kind of the same things that we’re all running into, which is at the wrong time of day it takes me 30 minutes to go to Publix,” he said. “I’m watching the best schools in the country turn into trailer parks and it seems to me that there’s some efficiencies and some approaches that perhaps we might want to take a look at that that haven’t been fully employed in the past.”
Incumbent District 2 Commissioner Brian Tam, who was first elected in 2004, has not declared whether he will seek a fourth term. Reached Thursday, Tam said he was focused on the job at hand and looked forward to debating the issues.
Commissioners in Forsyth are elected by district-only voting. District 2 covers much of south Forsyth. Qualifying for the primary is set for March 7-11.
While traffic and overcrowding are the areas where most residents likely feel growth, Swope said those are consequences of larger issues.
“When you get down to the granular details, it’s going to be issues such as county governance versus local governance,” Swope said.
“Obviously, everybody’s well aware of the Sharon Springs initiative, and whatever way that plays out, there will probably be more of that bubbling up in the future.”
On Monday, Forsyth County’s legislative delegation officially withdrew a bill for the formation of Sharon Springs, citing state concerns with the “city light” concept.
Sharon Springs likely would have had a maximum millage rate of 0.5 mills and offered just three services — zoning, sanitation and code enforcement.
It would have covered an area east of Ga. 400, south of Hwy. 20, west of the Chattahoochee River and north of the Fulton County line. It includes an estimated quarter of the county’s population, some 50,000 people.
Had the proposal cleared the Georgia General Assembly this winter, a referendum in November would have let voters in that area decide on cityhood.
Addressing Forsyth’s unified development code and taking a look at impact fees are also important to Swope’s campaign.
A 17-year resident of the county, Swope and his wife Dani have been married for 27 years and have two children. Their son, 20, is a cadet at the University of North Georgia and their daughter, 16, attends Lambert High School.
Since he is self-employed, Swope said his family could always move, but is “very much interested in keeping this home for a long time.”
“You’ll see very quickly that I’m not a politician,” he said. “I’m a dad, I’m a businessman and I’m a believer. I’m active at First Redeemer and there’s not too much more that I love than teaching young people about life stuff. But this just seemed like the right thing at the right time.”