COVINGTON -- Former Newton County Commissioner Ronnie Dimsdale has decided it's time to enter politics again. Dimsdale has qualified as a Republican for the District 5 seat on the Board of Commissioners.
"I've had some concerns about the direction of our county. I sat on the fence wrestling with myself about it for a good long while," he said. "I could see in my personal life it interfering with some things my wife and I wanted to do, but I have some things I'd like to pursue in the county and I think the county needs an experienced hand and a pacifying voice, somebody that can express cooperation and not partisanship. It concerns me when people are doing public business and their primary goal seems to be whether they win or not. Everybody should be focused on the welfare of the community instead of on themselves."
Dimsdale said his platform is primarily "to engender respect and cooperation in county government."
Dimsdale said he would like to see commissioners divvy up county departments, with each acting a liaison between certain departments and the board. This way, board members would have a better understanding of what each department does, its budgetary needs and the board members "would be interfacing with the departments and entities on a more personal basis throughout the year. When budget time comes, they would have a more intricate knowledge of the dynamics of the departments."
Dimsdale said when he was previously on the board, fees in the planning and zoning department were increased, allowing the department to become almost self-supporting. While there is not as much development now, Dimsdale said he'd like to see if fees could be increased to make the department more self-sustaining, lessening the burden on taxpayers.
Dimsdale also said that while he doesn't plan to be combative about the change to a county manager run government, he wants to research the law and make sure there are no conflicts. He said the change was made so quickly that, "I'm afraid it may be hard to define whose responsible for certain areas, the chairman or the county manager," he said.
"County manager or not a county manager was not the issue; it was the issue of how it was done," he added. "People need to have a say in things that affect their government in a dramatic way."
Dimsdale, 74, served on the board beginning in 1999 for eight years in the District 2 seat. He lost a bid for reelection to former Commissioner Earnest Simmons. Dimsdale was born and reared in Porterdale and is a graduate of Newton County High School. He is an Air Force veteran and previously worked as a systems engineer for UNIVAC, owned a local wallpaper, paint and floor covering store, and hung wallpaper until his retirement.
He and his wife Margaret have two children, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
"I have proven, especially when I was on the Board of Commissioners in the public light, that I am a person of integrity and they can trust me. If they wanted to talk to me about something I would listen and they knew I was not out for my personal agenda or willing to hurt somebody else to get my personal agenda," he said. "More of that type of thing needs to be done in the county now ... When I was on the board, we had some real serious disagreements on policy at times, but we'd do the thing that needed to be done, vote and we'd leave the board room and when we'd come back together, we'd all be smiling ... There was never any of that 'You voted different than me so I'm going to get you next time.' I've been through that process and I know it can be done and the community will be much better for doing that."
Dimsdale faces Levie Maddox, Jared Rutberg and Wesley Dowdy in the July 31 Republican Primary.