Just because he will no longer have a seat on the Bradley County Commission doesn’t mean Dan Rawls will lose interest in local government. “I’ve been involved in politics for a long time,” Rawls said, adding his interest was mainly on the campaign side of state and national races before seeking his own county commission seat.
Just because he will no longer have a seat on the Bradley County Commission doesn’t mean Dan Rawls will lose interest in local government.
“I’ve been involved in politics for a long time,” Rawls said, adding his interest was mainly on the campaign side of state and national races before seeking his own county commission seat.
In fact, he began attending county commission and Bradley County School Board meetings about four years before he decided to run for office.
“In my opinion there was no voice for the people,” he said of his decision to seek a seat on the commission; he felt no one was standing up for “the average taxpayer” and not a lot of research was done on issues.
Rawls said he did not decide to run for the county commission to advance his career, noting “I was called to represent the taxpayers of Bradley County.” He said his district — District 6 — is more rural, with many lower-income residents, and he felt they needed more involved representation.
“I felt the higher-income areas were already well represented,” he said, adding that commissioners represent everyone in Bradley County, no matter which district they’re elected to.
Rawls said a positive aspect of the county commission is the diversity of employment of the commissioners. He owns Cleveland Performance Center, an automotive consultant and customization shop, while other commissioners work in education, construction and other areas.
By attending meetings before he was elected — and after election as he was waiting to be sworn into office — Rawls learned about issues and the scope of the county commission’s authority. He said he is encouraged because Erica Davis, who was the top vote-getter against fellow District 6 Commissioner Robert Rominger, has been active in attending commission meetings and even sat in on the Finance Committee’s daylong budget meeting earlier this year.
As part of his responsibilities as a commissioner, Rawls has served on the board of directors of the SPCA of Bradley County since its inception four years ago; it was formed following a contract dispute between the Bradley County and Cleveland.
“We saved the county over $250,000 per year,” Rawls said. “I think this system has worked really well.”
The SPCA of Bradley County is a no-kill shelter that Rawls said was able to use an existing county-owned building. He said it is not a “dog pound” but an asset to the community, and he encourages people to visit and see the volunteerism there and commit to help ensure it is successful.
“Those volunteers work very hard as they are the backbone of that system,” he said, adding that over the last year or so “I can say it’s been very successful.”
Part of that success was the Paws ’n Pints fundraising event earlier this year that resulted in raising more than $30,000 for the organization’s major capital campaign.
Rawls believes the spay/neuter concept “needs to be pushed forward” as the key to animal control. His plan is that if the local SPCA program can be successful here then it could become a template for other communities.
“A lot of good things have come out of it,” he said.
He plans to remain active with the SPCA of Bradley County, but noted that Davis and Commissioner Bobby Goins are the commission’s official representatives on the board. Rawls added that former county commissioner Ed Elkins also helped organize the SPCA of Bradley County even when “a multitude of people” said it would only be able to be done with a tax increase; he gave kudos to Commissioner Milan Blake, who is the commission’s Finance Committee chairman, “to find ways to finance projects.”
Rawls also credited Bradley County Trustee Mike Smith for hard work and help in looking for ways to fund projects.
“I don’t think we should raise taxes — we don’t increase services,” he said.
He also thinks Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis has done a good job of looking to the future, especially in not pushing for a tax increase and making a point to address the county’s debt service.
When Rawls ran for office the first time he discussed looking at the county’s “wants and needs — I think we’ve pretty much done that.” Those things were also part of his re-election bid. In the future, Rawls said he hopes the county commission doesn’t lose sight of who pays the bills.
“There are things that need to be done,” he said, adding there are some areas where it still feels like the planning is for a population of 60,000 rather than 105,000. Rawls said he anticipates that number will grow.
And, while several departments do an excellent job offering services to the public, he is concerned other departments are afraid of change. But updates make things better for the taxpayers and it is important to plan for those changes, he said.
“I came here to do a job,” Rawls said, adding he feels like he has done so.
Even when he is no longer a commissioner, Rawls plans to keep up with the county commission and attend Finance Committee meetings, continuing to look out for the taxpayers.
“I was involved long before I was elected, and that’s not going away,” he said.
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