Lula mayor-elect Joe Thomas, a freshman in politics, has big plans for the city
But his lack of experience won’t stop him from having big dreams in Lula. He wants to find ways to fund the city’s own law enforcement agency instead of being covered by the offices of Banks and Hall County sheriffs.
At a meeting in October, representatives from Banks and Hall districts told the city council that Lula was adequately covered, but Thomas took this as a humiliation.
“The whole session was spent saying we don’t need a police department,” he said. “I know we won’t do it right now.”
Funding could be difficult for the small town of East Hall, especially with Thomas said he didn’t want to introduce a city property tax.
But above all, Thomas wants more people who are civic.
“We have 3,000 people and you only have 30 people at the city council meetings, that’s less than 1%,” he said. “It’s kind of daunting.”
He’s having issues with the city’s website, which he says is out of date. Better social media exposure and a city newsletter could help keep people updated, he said, but few people are now subscribing to the city’s newsletter.
“It’s in place, but it’s ineffective – no one is using it,” said Thomas. “They don’t make full use of Facebook as I think it can be used.”
Thomas lived in small towns for most of his life. He was born in Anniston, Alabama and then moved to Albany, Georgia when he was 6 years old. He spent his high school years in Baconton and graduated from Georgia Tech in 1970.
But he spent much of his professional life as a printer in Oakwood and Doraville, with most of his time living in Lula.
He tried to retire in 2010 but started working for the Post two years later. He and his wife Patti have lived on the same property for 32 years. They initially bought a double-width trailer, but have since built a house in the same area, he said.
One problem he hasn’t fixed in years is finding an alternate route for articulated trucks to cross Lula’s downtown train tracks near the Hall and Banks border.
“Sometimes the train stands here for two or three hours straight,” he said. “There is nowhere to come. I have to find somewhere. “
The Cobb Street Railroad Bridge is often inaccessible and articulated trucks cannot use it.
Other problems in the inner city arise from the COVID-19 pandemic. There is only one restaurant left and some locations have been converted to catering-only.
Thomas would like to see more opportunities for the residents. A restaurateur told him there weren’t enough pedestrians to run a new restaurant.
“So we have to get more people in here now,” he said. “But we can’t bring more people in here until there are more restaurants. What are we going to do? We have to find the answer. “