Garrett Dillard wants to bring people together in Henry County, whether it’s creating a citizen group to help combat drugs and violence in the county or bringing elected officials and local leaders to the table to find middle ground during the reversion process.
Dillard is one of four candidates seeking the Iriswood District seat on the Henry County Board of Supervisors. Eric Phillips, “Billy Dean” White, and Eric Bowling also are vying for the post.
Reversion tops Dillard’s list of issues facing Henry County. No matter the decision issued by the three-judge panel, he sees the process as an opportunity to “look at how we do things and what we can do to make our community better.”
When a final decision is reached, he would advocate for open, honest conversations between city and county officials and caution against any decisions that might be considered “punitive to one group or another.”
Dillard also wants to see more high-quality, high-paying jobs brought to the area, “jobs that people are going to be enthused about,” and that require skilled labor. If elected, he plans to work with local schools and community colleges to ensure that county residents have adequate training to successfully apply for those jobs.
“We have to be more aggressive and proactive in dealing with drugs and violence,” Dillard said, adding that those issues have been deterrents for businesses considering locating to the area in the past. “The thought is that people are not going to pass the drug test or have enough workers to fill positions.”
Again, Dillard hopes to bring people together to help tackle the issue—in this case, law enforcement, Piedmont Community Services, the court system, as well as those who have been affected by drugs and violence, in the hopes that, by opening a dialogue between these various groups, change may be wrought.
“For a person like me, it’s not about having the right answers, it’s about asking the right questions to the right people, and I would see that as my role as a member of the Board of Supervisors,” Dillard said.
No matter the issue, he believes “if a community makes it a priority, we’ll find the right solutions.”
Dillard said his time as a basketball coach helped him understand the value and importance of openness and transparency, both of which he promises would carry over.
“If you work, if you pay taxes, if you live in Henry County, you’re invested, you deserve to know everything that I know, that the board knows” that it is allowed to share, as soon as it is allowed to share it. “We shouldn’t make any decisions that we have to hide behind,” he said.
More important than making the decisions is hearing the reactions of residents.
“We know our perspective, but we don’t know how our decision affects other folks. As we hear from more people, if we keep hearing the same concern or complaint, then we need to investigate the validity of that,” Dillard said.
Likewise, if the board receives continued positive response on an action taken, it can be taken as a sign that it is headed in the right direction.
“We don’t make decisions for us, we make decisions for Henry County, and we have to make the best decisions for Henry County,” he said.
To help get feedback and engagement from residents, Dillard would hold several board meetings each year in various districts, as well as explore the possibility of streaming the meetings live via Facebook, as the county school board does.
Love for community, Dillard said, sets the county apart from other localities and he sees possibility in that.
“When you have passion for the community, you can do some great things,” he said.