Only two of the four were fully represented during organized by the and held at the .
One of those races was for Dallas’ Ward 4 council seat, as Jim Henson and Brian Ragsdale . But the other competitive race represented saw its candidates more directly address one another’s responses throughout the forum.
Marvin Tingler seeks to unseat Boyd Austin Jr., who has served as Dallas’ mayor for 16 years. Tingler wasted little time addressing his opponent in his response to the first question addressed to the two mayoral candidates: “What do you see as the role of Dallas in the economic development process?”
“I see Dallas becoming the county seat once again. Sixteen years ago, Hiram had a and a , and now, through expansion, they’re getting , they’re getting , they’re getting the jobs,” Tingler said. “Dallas hasn’t seen that kind of growth.
“I’m not Hiram’s mayor—I’m running for Dallas city mayor.”
Austin in his response said the city has worked hand-in-hand with its neighboring city and the county as a whole—a relationship that benefits Dallas residents.
“Dallas is a partner with , the , the , the economic development organization, the regional commission. We are no longer an entity onto ourselves,” Austin said. “No man is an island onto himself, and no city is an island onto itself. When we look at the sum total of this community, 76 percent of our workforce leaves the county every day for gainful employment.
“We’ve been a part of the process, we were the first partner with Paulding County and Hiram to development the economic development organization. Two businesses have located here or have announced their location since that time—there are 36 in the chute,” Austin added. “If people get a job nearby, that’s a commute they don’t have to make.”
Austin also cited Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax revenues taken in throughout the county as a benefit to Dallas even if the businesses responsible for those funds aren’t within the city limits.
“While I seek business for Dallas, and I’m pleased when things come here, I’m not going to help shut the door on anybody coming to this county that would give people more time at home in the evenings and in the mornings with their families to do the things they need to do to make this a better community,” he said.
The candidates later responded to the question of what they thought was the county’s greatest asset for tourism.
“Our two greatest assets are the Silver Comet Trail—there are a million people a year that ride on that trail back and forth, all parts of the trail—and also our heritage assets, the Civil War battlefields, all of the history that’s connected to that,” Austin said. “What we’ve done in Dallas is try to meld the two. The trailhead spur that comes off the Silver Comet and into the trailhead park is a destination for people on the trail to get into Dallas. It will contain a heritage marker to show people the lay of the land at the time of the battles.
“[The Dallas battle site] will reap benefits for this community for years to come,” he added.
Tingler’s response downplayed the emphasis on Civil War history.
“I actually believe the downtown area is one of the best heritage zones for Dallas,” Tingler said. “If it is revitalized, you have a lot of history right down here that we can draw and attract people. Battlefield parks have shown to be no more of a tourist destination than a —Kennesaw has not seen any tax increases for theirs, so why are we spending money unjudiciously when we don’t need to?
“We have , we can invest in that and actually make it a community hub by putting in more baseball fields, put in a stadium or dog park so people want to come here,” Tingler added. “If you actually bring up the economic growth of Dallas and you enhance the downtown area, people come here and will come here for the history, and that will bring them here to stay in our hotels and motels.”
See more comments from Austin and Tingler, as well as their opening statements, in the attached videos.