Taylor, who was sworn in Dec. 31, is one of many new faces gracing posts across the county in 2013. And he’s the first new county commissioner in more than 20 years.
“I’ve always had an interest in the community and politics and I’ve ... served on the chamber board in the past and been involved in some of the civic organizations. I just decided maybe a year or so ago, I trended toward wanting to do more for public service and that’s kind of led me to this commissioner’s job, I guess,” he said when asked why he became one of five who vied for the post last year.
A lifelong Bartow County resident, Taylor defeated Mike Bearden in an August runoff to replace retired Commissioner Clarence Brown. Taylor said Brown was instrumental in the transition period.
“He offered all the assistance and help that he could, but back in, I guess, around September or October, we had some transition meetings,” he said. “That was his idea to set up transition meetings and we met with all the department heads, Peter Olson, our administrator, Steve Bradley, Commissioner Brown and myself all met with different department heads as well as the rest of the staff in the commissioner’s office. And that took a couple of weeks. We met with them individually. They all told us what they did, what their duties were, and we kind of told them what we expected out of them and it all went very well.
“Commissioner Brown was sitting there with us at every single one of those meetings and he did a great job as far as helping the transition, as well as Steve Bradley.”
During his first meeting Wednesday, Taylor got down to business, making appointments and reappointments. He said going forward his top priority, which was mentioned during the campaign, will be the budget.
“The biggest thing I want to accomplish of course is getting the budget under control — because of the economy, not because of anybody that’s done anything, it’s just the state of the economy that we’re in,” he said. “And I think that’s the number one biggest challenge, my biggest goal, is to get the county back on sound financial footing. ...
“I would like to see through our economic development department — and we have a great staff there — I would like to see more good-paying jobs come to Bartow County. We’ve got a lot of activity going on in the south end of the county. We’ve got an industrial park that’s second-to-none and it’s ready for business.”
Taylor has a background in business, owning and operating Taylor’s Farm Supply, established in Cartersville in 1948 by Steve’s grandfather, father and uncle. Taylor’s brother Keith now will manage the store.
In addition to the farm supply business, Taylor and his wife, Sandy, are farmers, raising cattle in Rydal.
“I think my business background and experiences through my business and [my] life experiences, I think that’ll help a lot in the county government, too,” he said. “We’ve went through some tough economic times in private businesses, not just my business but throughout the county and the state and the nation. I’ve already been managing on the lean budget, so I think that it just fits right in with what I’m doing here with the county. I just think we need to tighten our budget for another few months or a year or so until we get through this.”
Although surviving a tough economic stretch is difficult, Taylor said the county’s biggest plus — the people — will help do good in the community.
“I think the biggest asset this community has is the people who live here and all the folks that are ready to work and volunteer and do good things for this community. We, by far, that’s our greatest asset,” he said. “We’ve just go so many people that’s ready to volunteer and help out in this community, and the churches and the civic organizations and all the folks over at the chamber. We’ve got a lot of small business people that are ready to go to work and volunteer.
“Just since I’ve been elected I’ve had numerous people willing to serve. And calling me and telling me they’re willing to serve on various boards and I think that’s our biggest asset.”
When asked what those people may be surprised to learn about their new commissioner, Taylor said there would be no major revelations.
“I’ve been around the community so long I’m not sure if there is a big surprise about Steve Taylor. My passion for wanting this community to do well is the biggest thing and I don’t think that’s a surprise to folks. … I’m pretty much an open book.”
The father of four — three daughters and a late son — said his own parents were the biggest influence on his life.
“Yeah, I think my parents are No. 1. From day one, they’ve always been encouraging to me and then I’ve got a lot of people who have been involved in government. From Jack Nalley, the ex-tax commissioner — he’s always been a mentor to me and advised me on a lot of things I should be doing, or he thought I should be doing. We’re really close and I’ve got other people, friends and family that’s always been close and advised me,” Taylor said. “Those are people that I can look back on and say they have been real important in my life as far as the direction [of it].”
Taylor said his family was supportive of his decision to run and he looks forward to serving — just don’t expect an extended stay in office.
“I don’t think I’ll be a 20-year commissioner. I’m 57 years old, so I’m going to see where it takes me,” he said. “I’m excited about the job and the future of Bartow County. As far as years of service, we’ll have to wait and see.”