Editor's note: This is the first in a series of profiles on the five candidates in the special election for the District 3 seat on the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners.
Jonathan Bagley says his No. 1 priority if elected to the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners will be to keep a close watch on taxes and spending.
"In my job I have a responsibility to the people who sign my paycheck that I spend their money as wisely as possible," he said. "As a commissioner, I'm going to make sure we spend the taxpayers' money wisely."
Bagley is director of procurement for Polyventive, a chemical company headquartered in Calhoun.
"I've been there 13 years," he said. "I do all of our raw material and packaging sourcing."
Bagley said he did not have any specific spending cuts in mind.
"I've got to get more into the budget," he said. "The budget for Whitfield County is $49 million. With a budget that large, I've got to think there's some room for improvement."
Bagley is one of five candidates in a March 16 special election for the District 3 seat on the county Board of Commissioners. The others are:
• Shannon Bearfield, a U.S. Air Force combat veteran who works in a medical lab.
• Shane Day, global sales director for Tiarco Chemical.
• John Thomas, a realtor and former member of the Whitfield County Board of Education.
• Chad "Bubba" Young, an insurance agent and former University of Georgia football player.
The winner will complete the late Roger Crossen's unexpired term, which runs through the end of 2022. Advance voting starts Monday at the county courthouse.
Born and raised on the east side of Whitfield County, Bagley has lived in the Cohutta area since 2005.
A graduate of Southeast Whitfield High School, he has a degree in criminal justice from Dalton State College and a degree in business management from Covenant College. This is the first time he has run for elected office.
"I really care about the community I live in and my neighbors," he said. "We need individuals who are willing to step forward and try to make a difference. I'm going to try my best to do that."
While he has not been involved in politics before, Bagley said he has been active in the community through the Cohutta Ruritan Club, which he has been a member of since 2005.
"Ruritan Club is a nonprofit, civic-based organization for rural communities," he said. "We have a scholarship program, where we give money every year to a senior from Coahulla Creek High School. We do a toy drive at Christmas for needed kids. We pack lunches in the summer for kids because a lot of them don't get three meals a day when school isn't in session. We partner with churches on that."
He said the continuing impact of COVID-19 will be one of the biggest challenges facing commissioners during the next two years. Commissioners last spring required masks in county buildings in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 but allowed that requirement to expire. Commissioners voted again in December to require masks in county buildings but voted to overturn that requirement at their January meeting.
"I'm totally for people wearing masks," Bagley said. "I think if a business asks customers to wear masks inside the store, they should do that. But I don't think the government should force that on them. To me, requiring masks seems like a mandate."