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Zeigler ready to be a part of Effingham's 'team'
Effingham County native and former NFL offensive lineman Dusty Zeigler made his candidacy for the county commission chairman at-large official on the steps of the judicial complex Monday. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue

Through his years of playing football, in Effingham County, at the University of Notre Dame and with the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and New York Giants, Dusty Zeigler believes he learned about teamwork.

The Guyton native became the first to throw his hat in the ring for the newly-created position of county commission chairman at-large, announcing his intention to run Monday afternoon in front of friends and family.

Zeigler, who owns Unified Equipment Resources, said his plans, once his NFL playing days were over, were to come back to Effingham and become involved in what’s going on.

“At that time, 10 years ago, I thought I would get involved in the county’s team in some capacity,” he said. “It’s been in the back of my mind for a long time. This position, fortunate for me, was created, so the timing was good. And I have a group of folks who I think will support me and I think my family and friends will support me.”

Zeigler played 80 games in seven seasons as an offensive lineman in the pros and he learned that while everyone has their opinions and approaches, it’s being on the same page that’s important.

“When you huddle up, you all are on the same play,” he said. “If you are on the same page, so to speak, it bolsters your success as a team.”

The vision for Effingham is widely held, he said — people want to maintain the county’s historical value and its small-town appeal while it continues to grow.

“So how do we get there from here? That’s the challenge,” Zeigler said. “I think we have to be pro-active in the way that we manage our growth. We have to think about where the ball is going to be, not where it’s at. You run to where the ball is going to be, not where it’s at, and you’ll catch the pass.”

Zeigler said he’s always bragged about being from Effingham, and he likes the way the municipalities and the county have worked together on some of the issues facing the community.

It’s also imperative to consider the neighboring counties — both in  Georgia and in South Carolina —in planning for the future, he said.

“There are big things we have to consider,” he said, “(in) how we put together our efforts and resources and work within the municipalities here and in the contiguous counties to draw the resources back out of the state. The biggest economic driver around here is the ports. We have to have some forethought on how that’s going to affect our growth.

“We have great cities,” Zeigler added. “We have a wonderful chamber that is growing and becoming more active. We have an IDA that is doing great things. We have a lot of community-minded folks who are staying on top and aware of all the issues our county is facing. So we’ve got a lot going on.”

Skylar Long, Zeigler’s campaign manager, said he likes the candidate’s aggressive attitude in wanting to get things done.

“He understands to get the county moving, it’s going to take a lot of pushing,” he said.

Long also said the combination of Zeigler’s experiences in his years away from Effingham and his longstanding ties are a plus.

“It’s just more experience to draw from,” he said. “It lets you see the good ways and bad ways to do things.”

Zeigler, married with three children, traces his Effingham roots back to the first ship of Salzburgers to arrive in Georgia and he said wanted to continue the efforts of his ancestors to make it a better place to live.

“Why would somebody in this day and age want to run to politics and not away from it, especially for a position like this?” he said. “It’s a position that is going to be criticized and it’s going to be ridiculed. It’s a position where you’re going to get phone calls in the middle of the night and on Sunday afternoons.”

The chairman at-large position was created last year through local legislation after a referendum question in 2006. Qualifying for the chairman at-large position begins April 28 and ends May 2.