New County Commissioners Launch Careers at Institute Training Conference

Roger Nielsen

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018

Nearly 140 newly elected county commissioners gained critical knowledge of government operations and management during a four-day training session coordinated by the Institute of Government in partnership with ACCG, Georgia’s County Association.

The 2018 Newly Elected Commissioners Conference helped incoming leaders from counties across Georgia establish a foundation for effective and efficient government through training in topics such as consensus-building, basic county services, and finances and budgeting.

The Institute of Government and ACCG hosted this year’s conference Dec. 4–7 at the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education.

During the conference, six Institute of Government faculty members and other subject matter experts presented training programs designed to help new commissioners broaden their understanding of county government structure and core functions. In addition to Institute of Government faculty, conference speakers included veteran county commissioners, county managers and ACCG leaders such as Executive Director Dave Wills.

The newly elected officials, most of whom will embark on their first term in January, practiced building valuable partnerships that can help achieve community goals. Training sessions allowed commissioners to delve into nuts-and-bolts methods of policy-making, facilitating economic development and maintaining a diverse tax base.

Commissioners in attendance ranged in age from 31 to 84. One of the younger participants, incoming McIntosh County Commissioner Kate Karwacki, said the sessions were a great way to meet colleagues from across the state.

“I definitely got my feet wet. I really liked the Roles and Responsibilities class being in a room with like-size counties, because a lot of our counties are dealing with the same issues,” Karwacki said.

Incoming Ware County Commissioner Burton Carter proudly acknowledged being the oldest first-time attendee at age 84. Carter, a retired area engineer with the Georgia Department of Transportation, said he’s learning a lot about county government.

“I’m accumulating a lot of the information I’ll need as commissioner,” Carter said.

Besides an introduction to county government, the training sessions allowed Carter, Karwacki and other commissioners to start earning credit toward core certification through the Lifelong Learning Academy (LLA). The LLA, a component of the Institute of Government’s training partnership with ACCG, allows commissioners to attain the status of Certified County Commissioner by successfully completing nine required courses and a two-date Leadership Academy.