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Election 2016 — Forsyth BOC District 5 will have new face
Semanson WEB

About this series

This is the second installment in a Forsyth County News’ Sunday series taking a look at the contested races for local elected office in the May 24 Republican primary. There are no contested local races in the Democratic primary. Early voting begins May 2.

Previous articles:

Forsyth BOE District 3 focus on growth

Forsyth BOE District 5 draws large field

There will be a new face representing District 5, but it remains to be seen who it will be.

Three candidates - Chandon Adams, Justin Hawkins and Laura Semanson - qualified in March for the May 24 Republican primary. The top vote-getter will replace incumbent Commissioner Jim Boff, who was first elected to the seat in 2008 and announced earlier this year he would not be seeking re-election.

No Democrats have entered the race, though a runoff could happen if the leading candidate fails to reach the requirement of 50 percent of votes plus one vote.

District 5 serves east Forsyth, which includes Lake Lanier.

Advance voting for the race begins on May 2.

Hawkins, a pharmaceutical sales representative and South Forsyth High School graduate, said that while talking with voters, he found that many want to see a change in the county.

“People are frustrated with the trajectory that our county is on. So for instance, what I’m hearing is that we’ve now suffered from a lot of out of control growth,” Hawkins said.

“Are we going to follow the current path or are we going to try to change direction and bring more continuity, bring more balance and more vision for the next 20 years?”

Hawkins said if elected he would like to tackle issues going on with a private wastewater system in the Habersham community, growth and infrastructure, but that he also wants to address a rising national and local problem.

“I want to work with the leaders now of tackling the drug issue that we have in this county,” he said. “We have a heroin epidemic and we have to get control of it before it becomes permanent.”

Adams, a small business owner and father of four, said he has been a little overwhelmed by the support he has received since announcing his candidacy and wants to be an advocate for those in the district.

“I just looked at the need that our county was missing, and that was, I believe, leadership,” he said. “I believe that the citizens really do need an outsider, someone who has not been wrapped up in the politico scene for a number of years.

“I think they needed somebody that would be able to provide a new vision for the county and be their biggest advocate.”

If elected, Adams said he wants the county to take steps to increase transparency, including making residents more aware of meetings and setting up a special group.

“That’s been kind of the biggest issue, I think, that the citizens have voiced to us is the lack of transparency,” he said. “I feel that we need to have some sort of committee that would oversee the [commission] and provide transparency audits.”

Semanson, who formerly worked in the technology industry and has served on the board of the Three Chimney’s homeowners association, said that she wants to bring her experience to the county government.

“This was the next logical step for me, to take all of those things that I’m passionate about and take that to the board of commissioners, where I don’t think the average taxpayer and homeowner has had much of a voice,” Semanson said.

She said that many taxpayers are not seeing a return for what they pay, and would like to address issues with growth.

“I have seen a somewhat steady decline in the quality of life that we are living,” she said. “We are now having our children in what are essentially brand new schools sitting out in trailers. Our infrastructure has not kept up with the growth, but at the same time our taxes have skyrocketed.”