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Lasseter Departure Means Change for Gwinnett BOC

The District 1 commissioner will not seek re-election, citing health reasons.

Other candidates could emerge, but as of now, the Gwinnett Board of Commissioners will have a new member with a strong financial background next year.

This development arose Monday when District 1 Commissioner Shirley Lasseter announced that she won't seek re-election, citing health reasons.

Lasseter's district includes Duluth and Suwanee.

"I had been considering it for a while because of my health, and I had been in the hospital twice in the past year," Lasseter told Patch on Monday evening.

Lasseter is a former Duluth mayor who is in her first term as BOC commissioner. She served as mayor of Duluth for 14 years before running for county commissioner and being elected.

Announced candidates to replace Lasseter are Jace Brooks, a Suwanee City Council member since 2002, and accountant Laurie McClain, whose business is in unincorporated Suwanee. McClain is a Duluth resident.

Brooks is a wealth manager for Summit Wealth Management, and he also has been a part of the Suwanee government team that has presided over that city's rapid and well-regarded growth.

McClain was a member of the citizens review panel for the county's fiscal year 2012 budget.

Brooks reiterated his desire Monday to seek the District 1 post and bring what he called "proven, conservative solutions" to the county budget process.

In making her campaign announcement, McClain said, "You have to be on the inside looking out" to see how the budget could be trimmed further.

Gwinnett County leaders have had severe problems with the budget in recent years, mostly due to the real estate downturn. This year's $1.3-billion budget was passed without the use of reserve funds, but a continuing decline in the tax digest is expected in coming years.

(The budget) is the greatest challenge that the county faces," Brooks has said.

Brooks already has gained some prominent backers. Contributors to his campaign include Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson, Gwinnett Municipal Association executive Randy Meacham, and Preston Williams, CEO of the Gwinnett Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Two other BOC officials will be up for re-election in 2012: Chairman Charlotte Nash, and District 3 Commissioner Mike Beaudreau. Former Snellville Mayor Jerry Oberholzer and Mike Korom of Dacula have announced their plans to run for the District 3 spot. Nash is a resident of Dacula.

Nash has not announced formal plans, but has been accepting campaign contributions. Beaudreau formally has announced for re-election.

Formal election qualifying begins in May.

Duluth Patch editor Faye Edmundson contributed to this report.

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