App State alumnus, youngest on town council, pushes for local government

George%2C+App+State+alumnus%2C+was+appointed+to+the+town+council+Aug.+3.+He+is+running+for+a+seat+in+the+November+election.

Kara Haselton

George, App State alumnus, was appointed to the town council Aug. 3. He is running for a seat in the November election.

Abi Pepin, Senior Reporter

Although the former president of App State College Democrats is now an alumnus, his new role as a member of the Boone Town Council is keeping him in Boone a little bit longer. 

During a town council meeting Aug. 3, the council met to appoint a new member in place of Dustin Hicks’ vacancy. Dalton George, as well as Benjamin Ray, were up for the position.

George, 22, was elected unanimously to fill the seat, and said he is the youngest public official in North Carolina and the second youngest ever in North Carolina.

“Immediately after I was appointed, they called a special meeting for the mask mandate,” George said. “So two days later was my first meeting, with no orientation and no idea what to do, but it was on an issue as important as the mask mandate. I was pretty proud. It was wild.”

The town council voted in favor of the mask mandate, requiring masks in all indoor settings. 

Growing up in Midway, North Carolina, George never discussed politics with his family. 

“For a lot of my childhood it was just me and my dad,” George said. “When I called him and told him that I made it on town council, he just kinda laughed a little bit. I think he’s still surprised.”

George said he went into politics because he realized how policy affected his family and other similar families in the working class.

“I realized there needed to be more folks in politics that weren’t typical,” George said. “For me, I saw myself outside of the typical person involved in politics being from a rural area and being from a setting that wasn’t political.”

George, a first-generation college student, was accepted into several schools but ultimately decided to attend App State. The first time George stepped foot on a college campus was during his freshman orientation.

“I don’t really know how I ended up at App,” George said. “I think if you believe in destiny, then it was a little bit of destiny. It just felt right.”

During George’s time at App State, he became involved with town council meetings. He was an activist on issues like voting accessibility, housing and issues with equity. In turn, he became the president of the App State College Democrats during his senior year.

“As time went on, especially with the housing activism that I started, I talked so much about it, and I did so much related to it,” George said. “I was showing up to meetings and telling them what I thought should pass.”

George said becoming involved with town council wasn’t his idea. Somebody told him that he was already doing the job so he should run.

“I gave it some thought and figured maybe I would be a good choice for voters,” George said. “I feel like I bring something that is a little atypical for somebody my age.”

Sam Furgiuele, a town council member, was approached by George about two years ago regarding “predatory landlord practices”  the Boone Fair Housing Task Force was researching. 

“When Dalton and his group approached me, they were working hard to address the problems with housing and to help educate people about the issue,” Furiguele said.

Furiguele said for a person as young as George, he was impressed with the knowledge George had about areas of law.

“He had a good manner with people and was able to organize and motivate others,” Furiguele said. “None of it was about him personally. He was acting on behalf of other people that were the victims of housing practices.

Furiguele and George worked together to present a resolution to the town council with concerns about landlords charging unclear fees on credit checks.

The resolution was passed in 2020, compelling North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein to investigate unfair housing practices in Boone.

George, who created the Boone Fair Housing Task Force, is also responsible for passing a resolution to ban anti-homelessness architecture. 

Although George is currently a member of town council, he is still running for a seat in the November election, alongside Ray.

George is often known around Boone as the “housing guy,” but he said he wants to focus on other issues as well.

“I think young people in government is obviously important but just making sure it’s accessible,” George said. “Local government works best when it’s accessible.”

George said he wants to make sure that the town council meetings are available for everyone on the website, announcements are actively communicated throughout the community and different language translations become available for community members.

If elected, George said he would run again at the end of his term if he felt that he still had good ideas.

“I think everybody runs out of ideas and ways to help,” George said. “If at the end of my four years I feel that I’ve done as much good as I can, I’ve always looked at retiring at a farm never to be heard from again.”