Since 1963, the Marietta Daily Journal has recognized Cobb County residents who have made significant contributions to the quality of life and success we enjoy here.

The list of recipients over the past half-century constitutes an exceptional honor roll of citizens who have made our community better by being a part of it. They come from diverse backgrounds, professions and occupations. And each of them has modeled good citizenship and leadership, rising above self-interest to serve the greater community.

From Ernest Barrett and Joe Mack Wilson to Betty Siegel and Lee Rhyant, they have helped to make Cobb County one of the best places in the country to live and work.

This year’s recipient, Acworth Mayor Tommy Allegood, exemplifies the same attributes of citizenship and leadership found in previous award winners.

“Partnerships,” is the word Acworth Alderman Butch Price said best sums up Mayor Allegood. Price said Allegood genuinely wants to involve Acworth’s citizens in the decisions of their city.

“Trustworthy,” is the word Calvin Diemer, president and owner of Day’s Chevrolet in Acworth, chose, saying he would be utterly at ease leaving Allegood in charge of his accounts.

State Sen. Lindsey Tippins, R-west Cobb, chairman of the Cobb Legislative Delegation, chose “rarity” to describe the mayor.

“As an elected official he’s a rarity because he’s humble, but decisive. He’s a forward thinker, but a realist. He’s a true leader, but he strives for consensus. He’s even tempered, yet he’s not gullible. He’s strong, but not a bully. He’s very personable and outgoing, but he’s not a fake. Truly, he’s just an all-around nice guy,” Tippins said.

Raised in Atlanta, Allegood is a 1970 graduate of Gordon Military College and served as a cadet in the ROTC program. After graduating from the University of Georgia in 1972, he began a management career with Lowe’s Companies, which kept him in the building and development field.

He was elected to the Acworth Board of Aldermen in 2000 and elected mayor in 2002. He is serving in his fifth unopposed term as mayor of the Lake City.

A member of NorthStar Church, Allegood and his wife, Carol, have four children and seven grandchildren.

Alderman Price said Allegood is a visionary, someone who is able to come into an area and see its potential. And that’s exactly what he did with Acworth, breathing life into the city’s downtown while maintaining its small town charm. Back in the 1990s, many of the downtown businesses had shuttered because they couldn’t compete with big box stores and shopping malls. Price said he could drive through town at night and there wouldn’t be a light on in a building or a car in a parking lot. But with Allegood in the mayor’s seat, the downtown has blossomed.

“It is a real pleasure to drive through the town at night and see the parking lots full and people actually walking in downtown and enjoying the businesses that are open at night. It is a total opposite of what it was 20 years ago when he came on the council,” he said.

Folks have noticed. Acworth was named an All-America City by the National Civic League, joining a coveted nationwide list of only 10 other cities to receive the distinction in 2010.

Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon likes to say that “everyone gets their turn in the barrel” — everyone, it would seem, but Allegood, who has led a scandal-free administration that continues to attract positive headlines wherever he goes.

His leadership style is one of consensus building. Rather than say “lump it” to the opposition if he has the votes needed to pass a measure, Allegood will work to get all his colleagues on board if possible, even if it takes a little longer. As a result, Tippins said, he doesn’t spend a lot of time fighting fires from past decisions.

Price and Diemer said a key to Allegood’s success is surrounding himself with the right kind of people, such as longtime Acworth City Manager Brian Bulthius. The proof is in the pudding. Between 2000 and 2018, the city has seen an 85 percent population increase, growing from 13,422 to about 24,88o. The city had had a stable millage rate for more than a decade.

The business community has seen a 300-percent increase, from approximately 250 business licenses in 2000 to about 1,000 business licenses in 2018.

And there’s been a 400-percent increase in job growth since 2000, growing from about 1,900 workers in 2000 to about 9,500 employees in 2018, Bulthius reports.

Allegood’s service extends beyond his mayoral duties. Most recently, he completed a five-year stint as the director of the Cobb Community Foundation – helping to inspire charitable giving, growing resources and connecting donors with local nonprofit organizations. In 2015, he launched the Cobb Community Impact Grant program – getting donor funds to local charities that provide vital services to thousands of Cobb residents.

“I hate the fact that one of these days he’s going to step down, to be honest with you,” Diemer said. “Because I hope someone can come in and pick up where he has left off and continues to do what he’s done. The bar is set high for the next person coming in.”

The bar is indeed high, and Acworth citizens are fortunate to have so capable a man at their helm. The Marietta Daily Journal salutes Mayor Tommy Allegood as its 2018 Cobb County Citizen of the Year.

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