Macon commissioner candidates discuss education, broadband – Smoky Mountain News

by | May 4, 2022 | Education

From the backlog of essential capital projects to a push for increased access to broadband internet, whoever is elected will have to prioritize between the county’s many needs. Here’s a look at the candidates running in the Republican primaries. 
District I 
Because no Democrats are running for District I, which includes Ellijay, Highlands, Sugarfork and Flats, whoever wins the Republican primary between Don Willis and John Shearl won’t have to wait until November’s General Election to know their fate. 
Shearl declined an interview with The Smoky Mountain News unless questions were offered in written format. 

Don Willis retired last year after a career with the Macon County Sheriff’s Office. When he left the office, he was the Lieutenant over the Criminal Investigations Division. Some might question why Willis would run for commissioner instead of sheriff, especially considering Robert Holland, the man who’s served in the position the last two decades, is retiring. 
“I loved my job, and I loved serving and protecting, but it just wasn’t my calling,” Willis said. “I think I can do more for the citizens of Macon County as commissioner.”

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However, Willis pointed out that he feels he learned skills during his time running a team of detectives that would be invaluable if he were elected.  
“It gives you leadership skills necessary to move forward and communication skills to be able to talk to folks and work with your fellow commissioners in moving forward,” he said. 
Willis said his main goal is to ensure the safety of students and teachers, which requires the construction of a new high school, something that’s been a hot-button issue in the county for quite some time. 
“We need to provide them with safe facilities and places to learn,” he said …

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