James Wilson is a Gwinnett County Sheriff’s deputy, a Master Gardener and a Presidential Volunteer Service Award recipient. He is now a candidate for Loganville City Council.
Wilson qualified to run last month. He joins six other candidates vying for three seats on the City Council in an at-large election on Nov. 2: incumbent Councilwoman Anne Huntsinger; locksmith Melanie Long; Terry Parsons, who works in pest control; Shenia Rivers-Devine, a life insurance agent; Rosa D. Steele, a bus driver; and Branden Whitfield, a business owner.
The Tribune caught up with Wilson recently.
“I have the privilege of helping those that can’t help themselves,” Wilson said of his community service projects. The deputy coordinates the Fresh Start Garden Program at the Gwinnett County Jail, is assigned to the Community Outreach Unit and works with local food banks.
Wilson said he wants to be a true public servant for the city of Loganville and to do that he has to listen to people. He said has been speaking with Loganville residents from all walks of life wherever he goes in town, be it a gas station or in a local restaurant. Wilson said he wants to know what their vision is for Loganville.
“That’s the thing about Loganville,” he said. “They protect each other, they help each other. They debate each other. We have a special type of people. We are a resource of wealth in our people.”
The candidate said Loganville is at a crucial turning point regarding future development.
Wilson said he envisions Loganville as a “destination space,” with opportunities for “shopping, dining, entertainment and learning.”
Wilson said city leaders cannot simply wait for “organic growth” to happen.
“The urban sprawl is already here,” he said. “We’re 15 years behind the mark.”
Loganville must attract “a diverse selection of businesses that provide a solid tax base,” Wilson said. The candidate is not in favor of raising taxes.
“People are struggling as it is,” he said.
Wilson wants Loganville to be a welcoming community with an atmosphere of safety. Therefore, the city must continue to recruit and retain talented first responders by providing them modern equipment and offering salaries commensurate with their experience and in line with regional standards, he said.
“Further, we need to work together to strengthen local and regional partnerships for better cooperation between city and county,” Wilson said.
Wilson maintains that any decisions made on potential projects, like renovating the current City Hall or building a new library, must be based on the community’s vision, current needs and cost.
“Often times people are only looking at what is happening now and not taking into account, or taking the time to really look at the needs of the community,” Wilson said.
“Often current resources can be modified to meet those needs, and sometimes we have to make an investment into new resources. But the smart way to do it is to clearly define the needs and wants of the community and to start there.”
Wilson was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but was raised in North Carolina. He moved to Georgia in 1989 and made Loganville his home in 2008.
Prior to his career in law enforcement, Wilson worked at BellSouth. He and his wife have been married for 29 years and have three children and two grandchildren.