State of Gwinnett : Chairman Charlotte Nash addresses past woes, bright future; promotes citizenship

By David Pendered

Gwinnett County commission Chairman Charlotte Nash laid her cards on the table Wednesday in her “State of the County” address.

Gwinnett County commission Chairman Charlotte Nash presents her 2013 "State of the County" address at the annual event hosted by Council for Quality Growth and Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce. Credit: Donita Pendered

Gwinnett County commission Chairman Charlotte Nash presents her 2013 “State of the County” address at the annual event hosted by Council for Quality Growth and Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce. Credit: Donita Pendered

The speech presented some challenges – the economy is harsh, the county budget is lean and getting leaner. Fresh allegations of public corruption in DeKalb County are reminders of Gwinnett’s recent and continuing problems.

Nash met it all head-on in her opening remarks: “Gwinnett’s story has been filled with ups and downs and plots twists along the way. The last few chapters were painful at times, and a few characters have been removed. But overall, Gwinnett’s story is a tale of success and a testament to those who made it happen.”

Nash concluded her speech asking the public to help in the work that leads toward the bright future she envisions for her native county: Serve on a board, become a volunteer.

“Help us write the next chapter of Gwinnett’s fascinating history,” Nash said.

Teamwork and transparency were the two themes Nash addressed through the course of her 30-minute speech.

Teamwork built the county and will propel it forward. Transparency will help rebuild the public trust, Nash said.

Inside the Gwinnett Center in Duluth, the crowd mills before the "State of the County" presentation by Gwinnett County commission Chairman Charlotte Nash. Credit: Donita Pendered

Inside the Gwinnett Center in Duluth, the crowd mills before the “State of the County” presentation by Gwinnett County commission Chairman Charlotte Nash. Credit: Donita Pendered

Nash’s complete presentation was online before the close of business Wednesday. A video of the speech will be broadcast Friday at 8 p.m., online and on local access channels.

There’s no getting around the issue of public corruption in Georgia’s second most populous county:

  • Nash was elected in March 2011 to fulfill the unexpired term of a chairman who resigned during a a local grand jury inquiry into land deals;
  • A former commissioner has been indicted on charges of bribery and other transgressions;
  • Four guilty pleas have been tendered in a federal corruption investigation that netted a commissioner for selling her vote.

In focusing on teamwork, Nash took the unusual step of identifying almost everyone on the team that keeps the public sector running, along with those who propel the local economy.

Gwinnett County is preparing to add diverging diamond interchanges at I-85 and Jimmy Carter Boulevard to ease traffic congestion on this segment of I-85 just north of the DeKalb County line. Credit: Donita Pendered

Gwinnett County is preparing to add diverging diamond interchanges at I-85 and Jimmy Carter Boulevard to ease traffic congestion on this segment of I-85 just north of the DeKalb County line. Credit: Donita Pendered

The public sector team includes the county’s congressional delegation and Georgia’s senators; four county commissioners; city officials; public school teachers and those in higher education; police and courts, fire and rescue; the county’s delegation at the state Capitol; not to mention Debbie Savage, who Nash said works in her office and keeps her on time to meetings and knowledgeable of the agendas.

“Finally, I want to say thank you to the business community,” Nash said. “I want to say I appreciate the role ya’ll play in Gwinnett’s success. As you build your business, you build our economy. And yes, I said: You build your business. Thank you for what you have done to make the Gwinnett story.”

From the opening through the closing remarks, the crowd was attentive – no sounds of clinking silverware came from about 500 guests who were finishing their meal at the annual event co-hosted by the Council for Quality Growth and Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce.

Nash provided detailed descriptions of the accomplishments of 2012 and a look ahead at 2013. Look to her speech for the details of the past, and the highlights of the coming year are to include:

  • David McCulloch, vice president of economic development at Gwinnett Technical College, attended the 2013 "State of the County" address by Gwinnett County commission Chairman Charlotte Nash. Credit: Donita Pendered

    David McCulloch, vice president of economic development at Gwinnett Technical College, attended the 2013 “State of the County” address by Gwinnett County commission Chairman Charlotte Nash. Credit: Donita Pendered

    Rebuilding public trust;

  • Managing in a difficult economy;
  • Planning the next SPLOST, or special purpose local option sales tax;
  • Pursuing economic development;
  • Protecting water resources
  • Updating the county’s comprehensive plan.
Former Gwinnett County Commissioner Mike Berg (left), who now chairs the Dawson County Board of Commissioners, catches up with former Gwinnett County commission Chairman Wayne Hill. Credit: Donita Pendered

Former Gwinnett County Commissioner Mike Berg (left), who now chairs the Dawson County Board of Commissioners, catches up with former Gwinnett County commission Chairman Wayne Hill. Credit: Donita Pendered

 

About David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with nearly 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.
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3 comments
The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

Mr. Pendered, Thanks for the link to Gwinnett County Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash's "State of the County Address".

 

I think that it goes without saying that Gwinnett County (not unlike Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton counties) has a municipal government that is in very-serious need of reform after the last few years of multple and reoccuring corruption scandals.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

Mr. Pendered, Thanks for the link to Gwinnett County Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash's "State of the County Address".   I think that it goes without saying that Gwinnett County (not unlike Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton counties) has a municipal government that is in very-serious need of reform after the last few years of multple and reoccuring corruption scandals.