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Macon County Commission Chair offers advice for new board during his last meeting

The November meeting of the Macon County Board of Commissioners marked the last meeting for Commissioner James Tate. Tate was appointed to fill a seat left vacant by Brian McClellan and then was re-elected to serve a total of 11 years representing District 1 on the board of commissioners. 

After reflecting on his tenure serving the citizens of Macon County, Tate offered advice for incoming commissioners in the form of a “top 10” list. 

Tate’s Top 10 Pieces of Advice for the new board of Macon County Commissioners are: 

1) Civil Discourse – always have open, respectful conversations 

2) Sleep on it – never make a rash decision – WWJD bracelet– if you can’t go to sleep at night, you made the wrong decision

3) Finances – We have proven that it is very feasible to be Fiscally Responsible and still have a very low tax rate – continue to keep our County financially strong, continue to keep a healthy fund balance, continue to abide by basic conservative financial principles, which in turn will reward us all greatly with an outstanding credit rating and respect.

4) Education – Continue to provide our kids the facilities and tools needed to be successful

5) County Services – ensure that our County provides services in a friendly and efficient manner, and provide the support and staff to make it happen

6) Safety – Keep our County safe by supporting our Sheriff’s Dept and Emergency Responders with the tools they need and the pay they deserve

7) Government – keep an open mind, an open door and always respond.  Whether you agree with someone or not, offer them the opportunity to be heard in a respectful manner

8) Heritage and Natural Resources – do all that you can to protect the natural beauty and history of our home so that our future generations can continue to enjoy it the way we have.

9) Drama – keep the County out of the spotlight!!  We are simply here to provide basic services and NOT be a distraction to our everyday lives.  Do not let local government become confrontational and divide our community.  

10)  Please take care of our County Manager and his staff.  We are known as a Gem capital, but the true jewels of our County are the people that live and work here.  Polish them, look after them, take care of them, be proud of them.

Tate’s advice comes at an unprecedented time for the Macon County Board of Commissioners. For the first time in the county’s history, the board will be comprised of all Republicans. In addition to being controlled by one political party, the board will also include individuals who are considerably new to serving in an elected capacity. 

Danny Antoine and John Shearl will be fresh to the county’s political scene, with their election to the board marking their first elected positions in the county. They will be joining Josh Young, who is still in his first term on the board. While the board will be losing Tate’s 11 years of experience and Ronnie Beale’s 16 years of experience on the board as Beale lost his re-election bid, the three newest members will have some experience to rely on in Commissioner Paul Higdon and Gary Shields, who have both served on the board for multiple terms. 

Tate’s departure from the board brings another first for county commissioners as it will mark the first time in the county’s history that the District 1 seat — commonly referred to as the Highlands District — is held by someone who does not reside specifically in Highlands. John Shearl, who was elected to the District 1 seat has lifelong ties to the Highlands area but resides in Elijay, which is within District 1, but outside of the Highlands city limits. 

The new members of the Macon County Board of Commissioners will be sworn into office in December. 

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