New Fayette Commissioner Gibbons seeks team approach

Fayette County Commissioners Edward “Edge” Gibbons (L) was sworn in Jan. 10 by Fayette County Probate Judge Ann Jackson. Photo/Ben Nelms.
Fayette County Commissioners Edward “Edge” Gibbons (L) was sworn in Jan. 10 by Fayette County Probate Judge Ann Jackson. Photo/Ben Nelms.

Retired colonel and aerospace manager Edward “Edge” Gibbons was sworn-in at the Jan. 10 meeting of the Fayette County Commission to serve as the District 3 commissioner.

Gibbons without a runoff election defeated former Peachtree City mayor Don Haddix and former Peachtree City Councilman Eric Imker after Commissioner Steve Brown declined to run for re-election.

Gibbons prior to his first commission meeting commented on what he sees as his role now that he is beginning his term on the board.

“From my standpoint, what I intend to do to is act professionally. I’m not there to make a name for myself or attract publicity to myself. I’m there to do a job on behalf of the citizens of Fayette County,” said Gibbons.

The commission in recent years has been known, in part, for the divisiveness on the board that often permeates significant portions of meetings.

Asked where he sees himself when it comes to the conduct, discussion and decision-making of a meeting, Gibbons said, “We are conducting business in public per Georgia law. That means that we don’t make decisions until we get into the actual board meeting itself. We have to keep an open mind. And what we should all do is explain briefly why we voted the way we did. That is the extent of the comments I think I’ll be making. That’s how I intend to comport myself in a board meeting. I think that, from what I’ve seen, the board members currently sitting usually perform the same way. They explain their vote to the public and their vote is cast. I think that’s going to eliminate a lot of the divisiveness.”

Outside commission meetings, Gibbons said he is willing, at any time, to sit one-on-one or on the phone with citizens who have questions or concerns.

“I’ll listen for as long as they want to talk on an individual basis,” he said.

Gibbons said the bottom line is simple.

“I just want to do a good job for the citizens of the county. I want to be accessible to the citizens of the county. And I want to listen, learn and lead,” Gibbons said.

Pertaining to the recent issue of the religious freedom resolution adopted by the commission prior to his term of office and forwarded to the local legislative delegation, Gibbons said he would have supported the resolution.

“I would have voted with the board,” said Gibbons. “The legislation was not very well understood by many of the people that were (at the December commission meeting when the item was presented). My understanding is that the legislation is designed to prevent government from taking actions against citizens based on their religion, and it has absolutely nothing to do with business owners being allowed to discriminate against people based on their religion. Many people (at the commission meeting) were misinformed or had not read the legislation.”

Gibbons was also asked his perspective on the prior move that led to Fayette voters casting ballots for commissioners and school board members by district rather than at-large.

“I believe I probably would have supported it,” Gibbons said. ”Commissioners from counties of a similar size that I spoke to when I received commissioner training at the Carl Vinson Institute said they have district voting. So, yes, I probably would have supported it.”

Gibbons had previously stated his top three issues pertaining to the commission and its responsibilities. Comments on those issues were:

• “It is critical that we think strategically about our future. What kind of county do we intend for our children and grandchildren to live in 50 years from now? We face the challenge of being just south of Atlanta, the economic engine for the entire state. This proximity brings both opportunities as well as causes for concern, but it cannot be ignored. Taking advantage of this situation requires long-term solutions that acknowledge change is inevitable. How we manage that coming change, and the time frames we envisage as we do so, are important elements we must embrace.”

• “We must pursue economic development balanced against quality of life. Inviting industries that bring low-footprint and high return-on-investment business to the area (e.g. aerospace, technology, innovative energy solutions, etc.) is vital to provide Fayette’s citizens with services that are second to none while keeping taxes down. The Fayette County Development Authority works vigorously to attract these types of businesses to our community and it is in our best interest to work lock-step with them. Only intelligent and proactive thinking and planning will promote the environment necessary to grow without sacrificing our great quality of life.”

• “Our county and municipal governments must work together as a team. If we are to think and plan strategically, then we must ensure that we can resolve difficult, contentious issues – whether between the county and a city or between members of the commission – in such a way that our citizens perceive their elected officials working together in their best interests. One measure that industries use in choosing to relocate is how effectively and efficiently local governments function. Promoting a spirit of teamwork and mutual respect for the opinions of others is the first step in providing good government.”