Meet Your Leaders: Bill Thrash
This week, Meet Your Leaders speaks with Mayor Pro Tem Bill Thrash.
There’s something to be said for experience. In many walks of life, folks only value the opinion of one who’s “been there.” In the job market, a frequent requirement is “ 'X’ years' work experience.” We’re often told that nothing can beat it.
Bill Thrash was born in Houston and raised in Oklahoma. He lived there until he graduated from Putnam City High School in 1971.
Thrash enlisted with the Army immediately after high school. He served two years of active duty, between 1971 and ’73, and attained the rank of E-4, specialist. His discharge in ’73 would not be his last time serving. Thrash entered the National Guard between 1981 and ’86, serving as a helicopter crew chief.
After the Army, Thrash moved to Colorado, where he worked as a paramedic. He worked this field until 1980.
“I left that field when I got married,” Thrash said. “My wife, Suzie, was a police officer.”
Thrash entered the security-services industry after he left his work as an EMT. This is the field in which he works today, as a director of business development for Andrews International. His directorship covers Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. Thrash has two children: Robbie, who is attending college, and Mandy, who is headed for law school.
Thrash was transferred to the city of Kennesaw by his company in 1992. “I started serving Kennesaw on boards and commissions in 1992 when I moved here at the request of the late Ben Robertson,” Thrash said. “He was sort of my mentor.”
“I’ve served on about every board,” he said.
Thrash identifies himself as an independent voter. He said his personal feelings concerning U.S. politics do not swing heavily to the political left or right. “I’m very split” on the issues, Thrash said. “Especially in these times. I think both parties have some work to do.”
Thrash said economic development is the most important issue facing Kennesaw. “We were stalled on a couple of fairly major projects within our city due to the economy,” he said. “We are in an excellent position (to develop the economy), thanks to the leadership in this city.”
Thrash believes that Kennesaw has weathered the economic downturn very well. “We have not had any layoffs or furloughs, any of those kinds of things,” he said. “Overall, when you look at no layoffs, no service reductions, no furlough days, we’ve done very well.”
Thrash did lament, though, that the city has not been able to give pay increases to its staff in four years. “That disheartens me,” he said. “We have unbelievable employees.”
Asked how the city should work on economic development, Thrash said the city must market itself to potential business owners. He said that recent developments, such as the expansion of Jiles Road, are good for future economic endeavors.
“It has been a need for the county for a long time,” Thrash said. “Not necessarily a need for Kennesaw, but we benefit from it.”
Thrash said that the expansion will be good for economics because most of the traffic on Jiles comes from neighboring cities and counties. He acknowledged, though, that the construction will be “a headache” because he lives on Jiles Road. “But I think in the long run, it’s going to help us."
Thrash said his pet projects always deal with youth. He works with the youth council and has the teen center to supervise. “If there’s a group of people we need to address, it’s the youth,” Thrash said. “We have kids that need a place to be, a place to go, a place to belong. We need to keep providing that. We do an outstanding job with that, but we need to do better and keep our focus on our youth.”
Councilman Thrash said he is planning to run for what he says will be his final term, but his running will be largely determined by his health. “I was given a new start earlier this year with this whole cancer battle, so I have a new outlook," Thrash said. "Every day is a new day.”
Concerning higher office, Thrash said, “absolutely not.”
He said he is very comfortable with municipal office. “There’s too much to be done here,” Thrash said. “We touch the people here, I think, a little more directly than higher offices do.”
Thrash said that when he retires, he would like to be able to travel to various places with his wife without necessarily settling anywhere. “I came from God’s country, Colorado,” he said. “I would like for my wife and I to be able to travel.”
To the citizens, Thrash had this to say: “I think we’ve got a great city. The makeup of the mayor and City Council is a good makeup right now. We all want what’s best for the citizens, and we work our decisions that way. You never read about us infighting or any of that nonsense. That’s leadership, and that comes from leadership, from the type of folks that have been elected.”