Mayor Allison Wilkerson
By Randy Cox
When you think of recently elected Grayson Mayor Allison Wilkerson, you might think of “firsts.”
As far as this small Gwinnett County city of 2,700 is concerned, she is its first female mayor.
And, she’s the first second-generation mayor as her father, Doug, retired from that position in 2001.
And, to top that: she’s not only a native Gwinnecian, but also a native Graysonian! No transplant here.
She, her dad, and her late mother, Alice, moved to Grayson from Snellville in 1975 when she was only a year old, back when Gwinnett County had a lot less people, and Grayson was no exception.
“Grayson was a lot different back then,” Allison said. “Not much traffic… no grocery stores or gas stations.”
“I do remember when there WAS a gas station where the Publix is now,” she said. “There was not much activity and it was a slow, little town…but that’s not a bad thing.”
Allison knew early on she wanted to “follow in her dad’s footsteps” in real estate.
“When I was little, most of the girls wanted to be teachers and nurses, traditional jobs,” she said. “I wanted to sell houses.”
And, that’s exactly what she did.
After being graduated from South Gwinnett High School in 1991, she attended Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, Ga., receiving her two-year Business Administration degree in 1993.
“Dad said if I wanted to sell real estate, I had to have a college degree,” she said. “He didn’t say I had to go four years!”
Allison attended real estate school at Georgia Institute of Real Estate in Atlanta, and received her real estate agent’s license in 1994, her broker’s license in 1999.
She worked for ReMax Greater Atlanta, Northside Realty, and Coldwell Banker before beginning her career with her father’s company, Properties Exchange, which handles real estate and personal investments. Allison deals in all facets of the business: private homes, land, and commercial property, mostly in metro Atlanta.
From a real estate standpoint, Grayson is a great place to live, she says.
“We hold our property value real well in Grayson,” she said.
Jim Hinkle, the man Allison succeeded as mayor, came on board again as mayor in 2001 when Mr. Wilkerson decided not to run. Hinkle had served before, years earlier.
2001 also ushered in Allison’s first taste of politics, succeeding Darron Britt on the Grayson City Council.
2001 was the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the City of Grayson, and during the celebratory parade, four former mayors rode on a flat-bed truck, including Hinkle who decided to come out of retirement to run for mayor again. Allison and Hinkle both took the oath of office in January 2002 and Allison was elected to the mayoral spot without opposition in 2013.
The new mayor has two new council members this year: Linda Jenkins, who succeeded Katie Mitchell, and Trenton Arnold, who took Allison’s spot. Linda, in fact, originated Grayson Day.
Many future projects are in store for the citizens of Grayson, including a major T-grant (Georgia Department of Transportation), expected to begin in January. This beautification project includes planting of trees, shrubs, and flowers on the Grayson Highway median between the city limits (about two miles).
Another major program is the Gateway Project on Rosebud Road and U.S. Highway 20, where there will be a green space and a “Welcome to Grayson” area.
Although Allison expects no changes in the city’s overlay district, the city will be receiving $400,000 in the combination Gwinnett County/ SPLOST road improvement program on Rosebud and Grayson Parkway. This is part of a $2.5 million grant project for smaller cities under 5,000 populations. A SPLOST committee has already signed off on it, and the County Board of Commissioners’ commitment is pending, she said. Roadwork should commence in March or April, and take approximately three years.
As for any future city annexation plans, she said: “I don’t see where we can do any more as far as boundaries are concerned.”
One major project in the hopper for this year is the construction of a major amphitheater located next to City Hall and across the street from the elementary school. Proposed uses are concerts, movie screenings, special events, and school activities.
“We’re going to let the designers play with the project,” she said. “And then work backwards on it for the budget.”
This year’s scheduled events at City Park include the Grayson Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 12 and Grayson Day, Saturday, April 26.
Allison has held several leadership roles in her career, including being a member of the 2000 Leadership Gwinnett Class, and served as president of the Gwinnett Municipal Association in 2004. She presently is the vice-president of GMA and a member of the executive committee. She will be eligible to serve as president again next year.
New Grayson Mayor Allison Wilkerson confers with her City Administrator Laura Paul-Cone as she begins her first term.