Crews says he has work to do

Gary Crews

Dalton City Council member Gary Crews said "it's not quite time to pass that baton."

Crews was first elected to the City Council in 2010 to fill the unexpired term of Charlie Bethel, who had stepped down to run for state Senate. Bethel is now a justice on the Supreme Court of Georgia. Crews was reelected to full terms in 2013 and 2017.

He faces former state senator Steve Farrow in the Tuesday election for the Ward 4 seat on the council. The race is nonpartisan, meaning no political party is listed. Council members are elected citywide, and council terms are for four years.

"This will be my fourth term, but I look at it like the fourth quarter of a football game," he said. "It's the most important term I will serve. We've got a lot of things that we have started that I want to see through. I'm currently the senior member of the council, and I think my experience will help."

The City Council is in the planning stages or has already begun several major projects, including an aquatics center near Dalton Mall, a soccer complex at Heritage Point Park, renovation of the John Davis Recreation Center, a walking/bicycling trail connecting the Crown Mill Village area to Haig Mill Lake Park and a number of stormwater control projects.

"In addition to all of those projects, we've got the improvements we plan on Market Street and the surrounding area," Crews said.

Council members earlier this month approved a contract with Goodwyn Mills Cawood of Atlanta to design a road that will connect Market Street to Dug Gap Road, which should reduce congestion on West Walnut Avenue and increase access to the stores and restaurants on Market Street. The council also plans to convert Market Street to a "streetscape" style, including wider sidewalks, on-street parking, decorative benches and lighting, and move electric, telephone and cable lines underground.

"All of those projects should be complete or substantially complete in the next four years," Crews said. "But the economic impact and the impact on the quality of life will be felt for years to come."

Born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Crews’ family moved to Atlanta when he was 12, then to Chattanooga two years later. After graduating from Tyner High School, he began working for the Athletic Attic, a shoe and apparel retailer. When Walnut Square Mall (now Dalton Mall) opened in 1980, he moved to manage the store in Dalton.

In 2002, he began working for MedNow, where he currently serves as practice manager. He also has a real estate license.

Recently he formed his own small business that specializes in golf mats and vintage golf clubs.

"Another thing I'd like to work on is housing," he said. "I'd like to see if we can find ways to increase not just affordable housing but smart housing. Look at our zoning and building codes. Work with developers and business."

He said he'd also like to continue the council's work to reduce blight and improve the appearance of the city.

Council members have been more aggressive in getting blighted buildings, such as the former restaurant at Little Five Points and the Econo Lodge on Tampico Way, condemned and torn down. They also changed their rubbish law to reduce the amount of time debris sits at the side of the street before being picked up.

"We've put together a good team, and I want to continue to work with them to make Dalton more successful," Crews said.

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