COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga.(WJBF) - Columbia County's first elected county wide chairman is officially announcing he will not be seeking re-election.
Chairman Ron Cross sat down for an exclusive one on one interview with NewsChannel 6's Ashley Campbell to talk about his time as Chairman.
Cross has held the position since 2002.
After four terms, Cross says he's calling it quits.
"By the end of my term I'll be 77. You never know what's going to happen at that age. So, it's time to do something else," said Cross.
Cross says he rarely thinks about legacies but he says he has a few things he's proud of during his tenure.
"My first term, there was something that I thought we really needed to attack and that was the fire service situation and we did, starting in 2003," said Cross.
Cross helped take 7 volunteer fire departments, with little to no funding, to what it is now, Columbia County Fire Rescue.
Quality of life has also been on Cross' radar during his time in office.
Cross was able to turn a vacant lot into Evans Towne Center Park.
"I think it's probably the most popular thing that we've done. Not that it's the most important but certainly the most popular," said Cross.
Cross says his style of leadership is influenced by one of his favorites: Henry Ford.
"How can you look at what's going on and make it better and I think that's what we've done over the last fifteen years...will be 16 in Columbia County," said Cross.
Cross isn't taking all the credit.
Cross says improvements wouldn't be possible without the community.
"With the citizens approving the SPLOST programs, I think there's been three in my tenure, plus, a G.O. Bond issued, the TIA program, Transportation Improvement Act," explained Cross.
Success doesn't come without failure like the National Day of Prayer breakfasts that he never got off the ground.
"There's a lot of things that I would have handled differently. I didn't know there was such animosity between the county and the two cities. I guess I was just ignorant and naive in that regard," said Cross.
Today, new leadership within the two cities has changed the relationship the three municipalities have for the better.
And Cross is ending his term with a grade "A" county.
"The triple A bond rating, the class one ISO rating for the fire department; only 14 in Georgia, only about 250 in the nation. The staff that we have here in Columbia County is equal or better than any in the state. There's no question," said Cross.
So, who does Cross want to take his seat?
Cross is throwing his support to Commissioner Doug Duncan, already contributing to Duncan's campaign.
"He's been around, he's got the personality that works well with people. He's worked hard to get knowledge of the county," said Cross.
Whoever wins this election, Cross leaves them with this advice.
"I would encourage all commissioners, especially the Chair to develop a vision for what you'd like to see the county be, whether it be 5 years, 10 years, 20 years down the road," said Cross.
He adds to always focus on the "wants" and the "needs" and if the "needs" are up to par, for example public safety, the "wants" will come.
Qualifying ends this week.
So far, you have local businessman Mark Herbert, former EMA director Pam Tucker and, as Cross mentioned, District One Commissioner Doug Duncan.
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