There remains some unfinished business for Wendall Kessler.
The chairman of the Effingham County commissioners weighed not running for re-election but ultimately decided there were some objectives he still wanted to accomplish.
“I think we have done a good job,” he said, referring to the work of himself and his fellow commissioners. “I have been told I have done a good job of running the meetings and coalescing the thought of the commissioners, and I would like to continue to do that.”
Former Rincon city manager Wesley Corbitt also has announced he will run for the chairman’s seat. Qualifying for the primary begins March 7 and runs through March 11.
Kessler said he is proud that the commissioners, even with varying points of view, are able to work together on many topics.
“I think I’ve got a good board sitting up there,” Kessler said. “Having different opinions is not bad; it makes you think. The chairman can do nothing without the board, except steer the ship.”
Kessler said the board has navigated through rocky waters.
“We don’t always agree, and that’s OK,” he said. “Sometimes a difference of opinion creates a thought process that leads to a result different than what you started with. “
Kessler h ad not run for office previously when he was approached by friends about running for the chairman’s post in 2012.
“The citizens of this county gave me a great honor by choosing me to serve three years ago,” Kessler said.
There are a handful of projects under way Kessler would like to see come to fruition as chairman. First is the new central recreation complex, to be built on more than 140 acres off Highway 21 and Ralph Rahn Road. A groundbreaking for the first phase is expected to take place soon.
Another big initiative Kessler wants to see started is the Effingham Parkway, which has been “taken off the back burner,” he said. Last month, state officials pledged more than $40 million toward construction of the road, which is expected to alleviate congestion on Highway 21.
Kessler also pointed the dwindling number of lawsuits the county has outstanding. Commissioners resolved one of their longest-standing and most complex lawsuits last August, agreeing to purchase more than 650 acres for $7 million, taking over what was known as the Grandview tract.
“We have settled every lawsuit brought against the county, except for one,” he said.
Commissioners also have tried to resolve the issues stemming from developments that were started and in various stages of completion.
“They are getting fewer than they were,” Kessler said. “We’ve been able to navigate through some of them. There are still a few out there. Building is picking back up.”
Though the current special local option sales tax has one year remaining, Kessler would like to have SPLOST renewal on the November ballot, especially with work set to commence on the central rec complex.
“We’ve got a little bit more work to do,” he said. “We’ve got some percentages to work out.”
The county also agreed to new local option sales tax split with the cities three years ago, and Kessler said there are innovative proposals beginning to percolate in state government.