GAINESVILLE - Gainesville's first elected mayor was sworn in Friday, promising to work for unity, fairness and economic growth.
Danny Dunagan took the oath of office, this time as Gainesville's mayor elected by the voters, in ceremonies held in the Gainesville Justice Center at the Public Safety Complex, where council veteran George Wangemann of Ward (4) and newcomer Sam Couvillon of Ward (1) were also sworn in. Couvillon occupies Dunagan's former council seat, filled temporarily by long time Gainesville educator Curtis Segars.
Dunagan told his audience the area's projected rapid growth in 25 years called for local government unity.
"Estimates we have seen of the projected population increases our city from 36,000 today to some 160,000 by the year 2040," Mayor Dunagan said. "That may be exaggerated a bit, however, grow we will. It is imperative that we come together with our sister cities and Hall County to plan for the future."
Noting the city's diversity, Dunagan promised that everyone would be included in the Gainesville community and 'have a voice.'
"To be a great city, Gainesville must be a just city," the Mayor said. "This council has always had an open door policy and I want to stress to every citizen that we are here to listen."
Dunagan pointed to traffic study recommendations, some of which would be expensive and controversial.
"As I drive around Gainesville, I see more people walking on the roadsides or in the roadways," Dunagan said. "In an effort to determine the cost of putting in sidewalks along the main roads in and out of our city, I would like to ask Council and staff to revisit our sidewalk plan."
Dunagan also promised to promote 'sound economic strategies' to support continuing job growth and cited developing commercial and retail centers as examples of new business and industry that are expanding in Gainesville and Hall County.
"The economic future for our area is tremendous," Dunagan said.