DON KUPIS (incumbent)

1. Why are you running for this office? What are your main platform points?

I am running for the office of councilman for the 5th district because I would like to continue to work on the projects that the council and previous councils have started and are important to me. The Parks Creek reservoir is in the final phases of acquiring the land needed for construction. This is very important to the citizens of Jefferson; without water we will not survive. The Jim Joiner Recreation Center needs to be expanded with more playing fields and a larger building; this is presently being looked at by the council.

Our roads and infrastructure need to be addressed. In 2019 we paved and repaired numerous streets, but more work is needed. We have already approved a budget for 2020 that has more funds allocated to street repair and to street repair equipment than ever before and this is just the beginning.

The expansion of I-85 will mean growth whether we like it or not. The challenge is how we handle it. We need to keep Industrial and residential sites separated or buffered. I have voted against the rezoning of property along Hog Mountain Road for industrial use because it would adversely affect the two neighborhoods on Storey Porter Road. We also have truck stops being constructed that the present infrastructure will not support.

2. How do you think growth in your town or school system should be managed in the coming years?

Growth attracts restaurants, commercial establishments and industrial sites which will bring in more tax revenue that will help lower property taxes. But we need to be proactive, we need to use our ordinances and overlays to restrict the wrong type of growth in areas that will impact our residential citizens. Keep industrial sites separated from residential areas while encouraging commercial and mixed use to be used as buffers for these residential areas. Our ordinances and overlays need to be reviewed yearly to keep up with the changing times.

3. What do you consider the top challenges your local government will face in the next 10 years? As a city council or school board member, what would you do to address those challenges?

The number one challenge is growth and the problems that come with it. We will need to look at all our infrastructure and manpower. Starting with our water supply, the sewer treatment plant and the wastewater. Thankfully the public works department is already planning for this. The next problem will be the roads and intersections. To address this, we will need to solicit help from the county and GDOT. We will also need to upgrade our recreation facilities, our downtown area and entrances to the city. The city council will have to continue to look and adjust if necessary, the overlay plan to insure we have a

good mix of Industrial, commercial and residential areas. All of this will have to be addressed while we continue to improve services, promote public safety and remain fiscally responsible.

4. Please outline a brief biography and resume of yourself:

I have been happily married for almost 50 years and have 2 daughters and 5 grandchildren that live close by. I served in the US Navy for 4 years. I retired from Gerber Scientific after 30 years as the Southeast Regional Manager and have lived in Jefferson for the last 21 years.

I have served on the Jackson County Courthouse Restoration committee, Jefferson Historic Preservation committee, Jefferson Public Building Authority and was the co chairman of the Comprehensive planning committee.


1. Why are you running for this office? What are your main platform points?

Since 2014, I have been co-leading a volunteer effort to improve internet access and stability throughout Jefferson and Jackson County. After serving on the Broadband Committee as well as the recent Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee, I have continued attending council meetings and observing current operations. The city has seen much growth due to the reputation of its schools and the demographics today reflect that. I don’t feel that this younger demographic has a fair representation in today’s council. As a city council member, I want to not only continue the work I have been involved in to date, but I also want to be a new, bridging voice to connect the changing demographics for all of Jefferson.

- Internet Service

We have made great strides in our efforts to improve broadband service in Jefferson. Alongside citizens, city officials and service providers, we worked together to improve service in the area. We encouraged investment in updated infrastructure from Windstream, explored alternative providers, and were a voice for residents and businesses struggling to get reliable internet service in their homes. As a result, Windstream has invested heavily in new infrastructure, providing faster speeds, stability, and overall quality of service for much of the area. New providers have focused attention on our city including Comcast and Paladin Wireless. While we have accomplished much in this area, we still have work to do. With online studies, video streaming, and working from home becoming more prevalent, our internet service dependency is growing every day. Reliable connectivity is a must.

- Support Business Growth

I want to support new businesses in Jefferson that bring folks together in the city, businesses that give residents a reason to work here, to play here, to eat here, to spend their dollars right here at home. Other cities have had great success with new business concepts and have revitalized their central business districts. If changes to aged ordinances are needed in order to facilitate bringing in new and exciting entrepreneurial ideas, we can make that happen, and we can do it in a commonsense way that helps retain our small-town charm, while at the same time ensuring we are a welcoming home for business growth. All of this is possible, as long as we have the infrastructure to support it.

- Infrastructure

We need to invest more money in our aging infrastructure. Roads and water treatment facilities need to not only support the city of today, but also the growth that is already coming our way. I don’t mean to trivialize this with just a few words; it just simply needs to happen. We also need to boost the walkability of the city with sidewalks and trails to connect neighboring residential areas to the downtown area.

- Transparency

As an engineer, I value transparency and collaboration as a team in solving complex problems. I appreciate hearing other people’s ideas and perspectives. Assessing a problem from multiple angles often results in a better picture than we can get from a single point of view. The city council, city hall, board of education, and the public, all need ease of access to information about issues and ongoing projects. We need open communication, collaboration and accountability in order to succeed.

2. How do you think growth in your town or school system should be managed in the coming years?

Infrastructure investment is one of my key platform points. Along with smart decisions in zoning and annexation, we need a solid foundation to build on. Together, we need to continue building on the foundations, plans, and studies conducted, with an eye on execution where investment makes sense. We need collaboration between the council and the school system to ensure that the growth doesn’t outpace the school capacity.

3. What do you consider the top challenges your local government will face in the next 10 years? As a city council or school board member, what would you do to address those challenges?

The top challenge facing our local government will be how to manage growth. It’s not coming — it’s already here. During my time on the Comprehensive Planning Committee earlier this year, it was stated that "the city school system is an attractor that induces annexation/residential development." However, as a direct result, this induced growth has the potential to overload the school system and existing infrastructure. In order to achieve smart, measured growth, we need open communication between the council, the public, city departments and the school board. We need easy access to information.

As a council member, I intend to use all resources available to me in order to make the most informed decisions that I can to best support our city. Part of this means studying the successes and failures of cities that have already faced this challenge. What better resource than to learn from those who’ve already been through it?

4. Please outline a brief biography and resume of yourself:

I am a Computer Science engineer, with a 20+ year career in the Cable TV and IT Services industries. I was a principal in a successful startup IT Services business from 1999-2016. I am currently the founder and CEO of another 3 years young Software Development and IT Services company in Jefferson.

In 2014, I began co-leading an effort to improve internet service in my new hometown. In 2016, I was a member of the City of Jefferson Broadband Committee. Most recently I served as a member of the 2019 Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee.

I am husband of 17 years to my best friend, Sarah. We have 3 young children, 2 girls and a boy, who are all active athletes moving through several Jefferson Rec Department athletics programs. We also have 2 dogs with 7 legs between them.


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