After serving 32 years in the Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services, Ray Gunnin has taken a plunge into politics.
Gunnin is now the Cherokee County District 2 commissioner, which covers southeast Cherokee County.
Gunnin succeeds two-term commissioner Jim Hubbard, who he defeated in a August 2012 special election due to a run-off.
Gunnin, 53, lives in Woodstock and retired as the county's fire chief in September 2011.
He began his career with Cherokee County at the Little River fire station when the department was an all-volunteer base.
He worked his way up through the ranks and became fire chief in 2005. Gunnin graduated from Etowah High School in 1977 and received a fire science degree from the former DeKalb College in 1996.
He and wife Cindy have one son Noah, who is a junior at River Ridge High School. They are also active members at Antioch Christian Church, where Gunnin also serves as the deacon.
Gunnin shared with Patch is feelings on starting a new career in politics.
1. Now that the dust has settled, how do you feel about starting this new position?
I’m ready to get started. I have met with some of the county department heads and county agency directors to get a feel for what is going on now and what we may face in the future. The next few months will be extremely busy as I brush up on current and future projects and goals.
2. What are some of your major goals you'd like to achieve? Are there any issues you want to specifically bring up?
I want to look at any avenue the county might have available to bring new businesses and jobs to Cherokee County. I am also interested in working with some of the smaller businesses we currently have in the county and help them grow, which is the lifeblood of any economy. Giving smaller business the ability to grow will in turn create more jobs and increase revenue for the county.
3. What challenges do you think you face as an elected official?
Making the adjustment from an appointed official to an elected official. It seems to be increasingly difficult to provide the essential services needed with less revenue, but I am confident that we will be to accomplish this.
4. What are you looking forward to the most?
Working with the county staff and being able to give back to the citizens of the county.
5. What do you think are some challenges facing Cherokee County?
The downturn in the economy and the reduced revenue will present a challenge to the board of commissioners as we struggle to keep taxes low, but still deliver services. With more than 210,000 citizens in the county, it is hard to satisfy everyone. I will do my bet to provide what I feel is best for the county as a whole
6. Are there any smaller, less pressing issues you want to address?
All issues are important or pressing to someone; it is simply a matter of how the issue affects you and your family. I have already addressed a few issues for my constituents and they were happy with the results.
7. What do you hope to take away from this experience?
I would like to serve and upon leaving my position I hope the county would be better than when I started. I believe serving as a commissioner will assist me in understanding how the local government functions.
8. What do you want voters to know about you?
I will be honest, fair and approachable. I’m willing to listen and hopefully work out problems that will be beneficial to all involved. I am in this position to do the work for the citizens of the county, not for myself.