UPDATED: 02/10/2020 - Habersham Co. - Habersham County Commissioner Natalie Crawford announced that she will be seeking re-election but that this will be her last term.
“This will be my last run for county commissioner,” Crawford tells WCHM. “I’m excited for another four years and the opportunity to continue to serve Habersham County. I appreciate the support that I have had over these last seven years and looking forward to an opportunity to continue to serve.”
Crawford announced her bid for re-election after her January trip to the White House to support President Trump’s Phase 1 trade deal with China.
“Representing and serving the citizens of Habersham is one of my greatest passions,” said Crawford. “These past seven years, we’ve accomplished far too much to lose our momentum.”
Elected to her first term in 2012, Crawford was one of the youngest serving county commissioners. Crawford’s true conservative leadership was evident almost immediately. One of her first accomplishments after taking office was to begin work on ISO improvements that have helped reduce home insurance premiums, putting money back in the pockets of unincorporated residents.
“We continue to work on lowering the ISO rating around the county, that’s something that I’m very proud of,” Crawford tells WCHM. “When you go back and look at the platform, if you will, for my run in 2012, that was a huge priority for me, and so we have lowered it in many places. We can certainly improve still in some areas in the county.”
Crawford is currently working on a new plan that will help further reduce insurance premiums in other areas of the county.
“We’ve done a lot of good work and we have a lot of good work ahead of us,” Crawford tells WCHM. “We’ve just embarked on this hospital purchase agreement and we still work closely with our local hospital. We want to continue the work and make sure it is and it remains a success.”
“We’ve come out the gate strong, so I’m going to continue to do what we can to support the hospital and making sure that comes to fruition.”
Crawford has been unapologetic in her efforts to push for a shift and commitment to forward-thinking, proactive governance versus a reactionary approach. As a result of her conservative yet innovative efforts, Habersham conducted its first-ever corridor overlay studies to understand and inform economic growth.
“Making sure that economic development opportunities serve our community instead of putting further pressure on our limited resources and infrastructure has been at the heart of all my decisions,” said Crawford. “Those studies directed our focus and efforts to build-out the industrial park and will drive job growth in our county.”
While Crawford has worked tirelessly for Habersham, her leadership beyond county borders through her work on the Board of Managers for ACCG, the Association County Commissioners of Georgia, and service on the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission has helped ensure Habersham is top-of-mind across North Georgia, throughout the state, and on Capitol Hill.
In addition, Crawford through her work on the Archway Partnership executive committee was instrumental in the creation of an economic development council, and the significant expansion of the airport over the last 6 years. She also took a leading role in the negotiation efforts with Northeast Georgia Health System, securing local health care access and saving taxpayer dollars.
Over the last three years, Habersham has seen record grant funding with awards totaling more than $20 million and more than $27 million in total between 2016–2019. Included in those totals is a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant from the Georgia Mountain Regional Commission for the new Habersham County Senior Center—the single largest disbursement for a Georgia county at that time. These additional dollars help the county maximize its current financial resources and provide opportunities for enhanced services to taxpayers.
However, Crawford still believes there’s a lot of work to be done in Habersham County.
“We have a lot of big challenges ahead of us,” Crawford says. “We’ve got a new SPLOST negotiation that will be happening soon. We still have the jail situation yet to be answered. So, there’s a lot of work to be done and I want to continue to help do that work and serve this community.”
During Commissioner Crawford’s time on the commission, new county facilities have opened—the courthouse in 2013, and the new county administration building, senior center, and airport terminal all opening in 2019.
“These facilities demonstrate my commitment to our County, our people, and some of our community’s greatest resources—our seniors, the County’s dedicated staff, and our area businesses,” said Crawford. “Our strategic growth has injected an additional $150 million into the tax digest over the last four years.”
Natalie is a Habersham County native, graduating from Habersham Central High School in 1999 and attending Piedmont College where she received her B.A. and M.B.A. She has also attended UGA for several post-graduate courses.