Rita Rainwater, chairman from 1992 to 2004, said she felt Douglas residents are not participating in their government as much as they did when she was in office.
Among the changes she wanted was reinstating a Douglas County Commission night meeting to make it more accessible to the public. Commissioners formerly met twice a month in 6 p.m. and 10 a.m. sessions but now meet only at 10 a.m.
Incumbent Chairman Tom Worthan, however, said his administration communicates with county residents “at a level unheard of just about anywhere else in the nation.” He said examples included his monthly “Chat with the Chairman” series, weekly newsletters and daily Facebook Internet site updates.
“This is what our citizens tell us they want our county to do and be — and I listen,” said Worthan, who has served in the job since 2005.
Rainwater said she worked with the county development authority as it helped bring industries with 10,000 jobs to Douglas County, including such organizations as the American Red Cross.
She said she favored the county and Douglasville development authorities merging because it is better to have only one recruitment entity dealing with potential new industries or the state when considering sites within Douglas County.
Longtime county development authority director Robert Reynolds resigned in 2010 because of problems with recruitment after the city formed its own development authority, Rainwater noted.
Worthan said that, since 2005, the industrial value of the county tax digest has grown from $498 million — 5.4 percent of the tax digest — to $844 million — 8.4 percent of the digest, in the midst of the economic recession.
The government currently is working to market the county and has attracted industrial development and jobs, including high-tech and high salary companies such as Google and PriceWaterhouseCoopers, he said.
“Economic development has been, and will continue to be, a top priority for me,” he said.