DEMOREST — It’s all in the family when it comes to one seat on the Demorest City Council.
Tuesday night, new Councilman Bruce Harkness took his oath of office from Mountain Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Chan Caudell before assuming the seat held most recently by his son, Jerry Harkness, for the past six years.
Harkness joined Mayor Rick Austin and Councilman Sean Moore, who are returning for another term, in taking oaths prior to Tuesday night’s meeting.
The elder Harkness, an attorney whose office is located near downtown Demorest, said he is looking forward to serving the city again.
“I’m really excited,” Harkness said. “It’s a lot of work and there’s no money involved in this. I love the city of Demorest, have been living here most of my adult life and went to Piedmont College, and I work here in town.”
Additionally, Harkness said the service is not only to Demorest residents, but reaches farther.
“I have a great interest to work for the citizens of Demorest and the citizens of the county, because Demorest is the largest water and sewer provider in the county,” Harkness said. “We have to be good stewards of the citizens’ money, tax money, and then we have to be concerned about a plan for the county and the city about drought-proofing our county for future growth. We have no such plan in place!”
Harkness said since Demorest is Habersham County’s largest water provider, and assumed the customer base and assets of the former county water system, it must lead the development of that future plan.
“The City of Demorest runs water lines from Hall County to Rabun County, north and south, as well as east and west,” Harkness said. “My main goal is to keep the city free of litigation, because I am a local attorney. Then my next goal is to see if we can come up with any better or more sources of water for the city, because primarily our water source comes from the City of Baldwin.”
Harkness said he would like to work with not only with the mayor and council, but with the Habersham County Commission, on development of a plan that would help drought-proof the county — something he said is paramount to future development.
“We can’t have any growth along our business corridor, either residential or business, unless we have some type of a plan to provide water and sewer for this people like Hall County is doing right down the street,” Harkness said.
When the younger Harkness chose not to seek re-election for the seat, former Demorest City Councilman Bruce Harkness qualified and ran unopposed.