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Inside a Local Political Campaign: Gwinnett County District 3 Commission Seat

Inside a Local Campaign - Gwinnett County District 3 Commission Seat which includes Dacula, Grayson, Snellville, and Lawrenceville.

This is my first blog on Patch.  My attempt here is to periodically give an ‘inside the ropes’ view of a local political campaign.  In order to do so it’s necessary to give you my background, history, views, and perspectives.  Let’s get started.  

I was born and raised in the Midwest, specifically a small town of about 1,000 people called Canal Fulton, a suburb of the Akron/Canton area of Ohio known mostly as the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  I lived in one house the entire time with the exception of my time at Baldwin Wallace College where I graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration.  Seven days after graduation I moved to High Point, North Carolina and went to work as a customer service representative for a home care products’ company.   Four years later I moved to greater Atlanta where I entered the automotive aftermarket industry that has served me well to this day.  I relocated to Alpharetta in 1985 and was there until 1993.  I then moved to Barrow County until 2003 and I have been in Gwinnett County since, living in Dacula.  

I have lived in Apalachee Farms the entire time.  Three years ago I became the president of the Apalachee Farms Homeowners Association because I drew the shortest straw. (Apalachee Farms has 600 home sites with more than 2,000 residents). I joke about this because as most of you are aware being on the board of an HOA is a sometimes thankless position that pays exactly nothing! The reward comes in doing good things for your community and neighbors.  Little did I know the short straw would open a door to local politics even if it wasn’t a door I was expecting to find.  

Last year, a homeowner named Charles Hagood approached me about the airport commercialization at Briscoe Field.  I sensed a real feeling of urgency when we spoke.  He emphatically urged me to get involved.  I politely told him I would investigate all sides and let him know if it was something our board would want to actively involve ourselves with.  So I did.  As a true conservative the word privatization is very appealing.  Of course privatization would be the way to go! However, still undecided I attended a meeting at 12Stone Church where a huge crowd voiced their opinions, some for and more against the privatization/commercialization. I left the meeting still undecided but leaning against the issue.  I dug deeper.  I met with local people such as Sabrina Smith with Gwinnett Citizens for Responsible Government, Jim Regan with Citizens for Better Gwinnett, local business owners, local mayors, etc. I emailed the current District 3 Commissioner, Mike Beaudreau on more than one occasion with no response.  As I found out at 12Stone, Mike is an advocate of the expansion/commercialization agenda. I then began attending Gwinnett County BOC meetings.  As I learned there are three proponents of the expansion on the board, Lynette Howard, Shirley Lassiter, and Mike Beaudreau.  The opponents are John Heard and Chairman Charlotte Nash.  Three for, two against.    

I organized an open meeting with Apalachee Farms residents to discuss the issue. About 150 residents showed up and they were overwhelming against the airport expansion issue.  This is where the first thought of political involvement entered my mind. My introduction to the political process came in 1976.  As a government project my buddies and I worked on the Carter and Ford campaigns.  We didn’t know anything about the issues.  The two local campaign headquarters in Canton, Ohio were just a few blocks from each other.  We stuffed envelopes at one during the day and made phone calls for the other in the evening.  Carter won and was a flop.  My hero Ronald Reagan was elected my senior year of college and thus the beginning of the great American resurgence.  The great communicator spoke of the optimism of success that would come from the individual upward as opposed to top down from government.  His impression on me was and still is profound.    

So after deep prayers, seeking wise counsel, many discussions with my wife and close friends, I decided to throw my hat in the ring.  To be clear, while the airport issue was the catalyst of my decision, I have researched many other issues which are extremely important to the future of Gwinnett County and District 3. I plan to discuss those in future blogs.    

So, last month, I filed the appropriate documents with the State Ethics Commission to run as a candidate for the 3rd Commission District for Gwinnett County. I hope I can count on your support and vote.    

As you may have already gathered, I’m the epitome of the political outsider.  I’ve already heard rumblings from the "establishment" that suggest they are not happy with my involvement.  I will say however that the local politicians I have met with or spoken to have been very gracious and helpful as well as many members of the Gwinnett Republican Party.  Whether it’s because they remember what it was like when they entered politics or because we have similar views, I’m grateful.  

While I’m a political outsider, I’m no rookie when it comes to dealing with people. Having been in sales management and sales of big ticket items to business owners, I’m keen on listening to the voice of the customer and finding solutions.                

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Cynthia Montgomery February 20, 2012 at 11:48 PM
Kristi, thank you for gathering us in. I hope you can get the candidates together and offer them a video debate like the Dacula Commission Debate. Here are my questions. 1. TRAITS Leadership Abilities, Intelligence, Honesty, Ability to work well with others. Knowledge of area, Sense of Humor. Dedication, and ability to handle stress ( are you fit & healthy)? 2. ISSUES Airport, Transportation Issues, Education, How will you keep Dacula in the Forefront. 3. QUESTION What personal qualities do you believe you posses that make you the right candidate for the job and in reverse what negative personality traits do you battle with in your life? 4. With the prices of gas going up what will you do when gas prices hit the next gas tax level which will trigger an additional 5 cents added to the gas prices according to the county laws?
Kristi Reed (Editor) February 20, 2012 at 11:52 PM
Hi Cynthia - I think a debate such as the Dacula commission one would be a great thing. Thanks for answering the questions. With everyone's help, we can hopefully learn more about the candidates in the race as they address these type questions and issues.
M.K. OSBORNE February 21, 2012 at 12:36 AM
1 ) Traits , Leadership skills focused on value to Gwinnett as a whole , Ethical partnerships with business leaders through transparency . Knowledge and vision of a stronger Gwinnett through community relations , Problem solving skills , diplomacy .good customer service. 2) Issues: Take a stand on the Airport pro or con , if you cannot take a stand, vow to abstain from the vote. Dacula lack of sewer service , explain why and how we plan to address this issue . Transportation , Do you think TSPLOST will be a boom or bust for Gwinnett county if approved , if not , will it be disasterous ? 3 )Question : With all the park land and green space gwinnett county has , why cant we supplement our water supply with the vast amount of artisian water veins below them ?
Sharon Swanepoel February 21, 2012 at 02:07 AM
I had wondered about a Cover it live event where voters could submit questions by email and the candidates could all answer by email too. I'm not saying in place of a live debate, but in addition to. That way people who don't make it out to a debate still get the opportunity to ask all the candidate - three right now but that could change by qualifying.
Cynthia Montgomery February 21, 2012 at 03:04 AM
Kristi, DO you have a location in mind. I might be able to talk with a business that is in a central location for the debate? Or are you thinking more along the line of a giving them the questions and they come in and you film them? Thank you so much for allowing the citizens of our county a real look at the candidates in a venue that allows all to see them and their ability to handle themselves. Each person should have that opportunity and the voters should also be able to see and judge for themselves who they see as the best candidate to lead us through the next years as Gwinnett and Dacula experience growth and change. Thanks Again PATCH!!!
Mike Korom February 21, 2012 at 03:19 AM
For the record, I welcome and am looking forward to the debate forums. As for Kristi's questions there seems to be two common themes, integrity and leadership skills. As for integrity, here's my favorite Bible verse on the subject. "The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him". Prov. 20:7 As I have said before, I can't speak to my own integrity, only others can. (Cont.) .
Mike Korom February 21, 2012 at 03:25 AM
(cont.) I can offer some examples of some leadership skils in my life. 1. I was the first in my family to graduate from college. (1981) 2. I was the captain of my college basketball team that logged 78 wins in four season and was a four year letterman. 3. While with Matco Tools at age 28, I lead a sales district from number 146 (out of 152) to number 8 nationally in our first year. The next year we finished number 2. I was promoted to a regional position the next year. 4. Most recently, with American Tire Distributors, a $2.5 billion national company, I was the number one equipment sales rep for 10 consecutive years out of 70+ reps. 5. Also, I've been the President of the Apalachee Farms HOA for the past three years. 6. To be clear, my highlight of leadership has come by raising my two sons. My oldest is 26 and recently married. He works with me in the equipment business. My youngest son is 21, a junior at Reinhardt University on a basketball scholarship. I raised them as a single father. I love them dearly.
Better Gwinnett February 21, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Briscoe Field generates approximately $50K of profit per year which remains with in the airports enterprise fund. Additionally Briscoe generates more than $1 million from airplane ad valorem taxes on airplanes which goes to Gwinnett's general fund.
Cynthia Montgomery February 21, 2012 at 03:50 AM
MISTER MIKE, More Please. Being in sales myself, I know that you only get to the top of the wipe boards with hard work, smarts, playing well with others, and being able to overcome a client's objections. Sound a bit like politics! I am very impressed that you raised your sons and that you HAVE a favorite Bible verse. Some seem to forget that we are living in His world not ours. Please give us more information about yourself. Also I ask you to remember when having to deal with people that, NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED!" Good luck to you. I look forward to hearing you at the upcoming debates when Kristi pulls it all together. I believe in the political system with all its faults and weaknesses. It has lost its shine but just one good candidate can take it to the top again. We always talk about career politicians needing to step down and that we need to put in term limits yet, the voters seem to fail to realize that THEY can limit their leader's terms with their own votes. It seems Mike Beaudreau has become a career politician in the eyes of his voters. Thank you for remaining logical, professional, and calm as the rage went on. Cynthia
Kristi Reed (Editor) February 21, 2012 at 10:23 AM
Hi Cynthia - I think a live debate would be great, but I have no place in mind just yet. Please email me if you have some ideas.
mark elkins February 23, 2012 at 02:36 AM
The issues this county faces are many and Briscoe Fieldale is but one of noted importance. To keep the corruption of commissioners to a managable level I support the following; Three commissioners elected at large voted on by the entire county. Three commissioners created from three voting districts. One Chair Person elected county wide. This provides the taxpayer an opportunity to stop corruption. The Three district commissioners would be elected every two years and the three county wide commissioners on a alternating cycle every two years. The Chair Person every three years. The other issues i am concerned about are; a mass transportation system that riders pay less than 1/3 of the cost. A system with more county employees. I am concerned about the prison over crowding that taxpayers fund and can be stopped by deportation. I am concerned about county vehicles being driven home and used for personal transportation at tax payer expense. I am concernd that our water cost-bills will go up over 50% in the next three years. oncerned about a school system spending more money for administration and assests than teaching our childred the skill sets to be productive citizens. Every student is not college material but people can make a family providing income with their hands as did my farther. We need a watchdog not a money seeking politician with self interest. We do not need a politician who makes statements of self importance that are not true.
mark elkins February 23, 2012 at 02:42 AM
Ran out of space, Hope we can find the right person to lead us. Best of luck in run for office.
Cynthia Montgomery February 23, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Mr M. As the mother of two with teaching certificates, I could not agree with you more that not everyone is cut out for college. It is a sad world that expects each child to be a college graduate. First, one must love the challenge of learning. For many college is just the beginning of their formal training. I know one person with 4 degrees! He still loves learning. For many finally getting out of high school is a welcome relief after a weary and worrisome couple of years. Secondly, look around and notice that many jobs DO NOT require not PSY 101 and GEO 208 which are mandatory in a four year college. I go throughout my day coming in contact with many careers that do not require a sheep skin for success. Thirdly, I believe that our creator, in his wisdom, made many types of minds. I can not creative a fine work of art. I can not fix a broken engine in my car. I can not run a machine necessary to produce a product. I can not tackle a 345 pound lineman. I can not deliver a baby. And I can not fish on the ocean for thousands of people's food needs. I can do what God has given me specific talents and desire for. It is time that we realize that to produce strong citizens each should be able to ply his or her trade with a sense of pride and that means a change in the way we dish out the funds at schools. Money for teachers over more admin! I hope you will be at the debate with your comments to see how each candidate responds to your desires for a strong community.
Larry A. Granger Jr February 27, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Go Get em Mike. Buaudreau has to go. By the way. How does one join the campaign and help you defeat him?
Larry A. Granger Jr February 27, 2012 at 03:00 PM
I am looking forward to the campaign. This is what I know of our current commissioners. There is an appearance surrounding them of crony capitalism starting first and foremost with the forced use by Gwinnet citizens of certain chosen waste management companies. Mike Beaudreau voted in favor of doing this despite the vast majority of citizens being against it. This is not something that someone with a conservative background does unless he has the deep seeded undying need to placate the left. I have seen little in the way of taking measures in reducing the size and scope of local government by this commission, but rather an extension of their reach. I am glad to see that Mr. Beaudreau is being challenged and look forward to doing what I can to defeat him. This county needs new blood. What it doesn't need is the continuance of the same old tired GOP establishment here at the local level. We need someone who will stand up for Conservative principles, who is not afraid to explain them articulately, and is not afraid to fight for them. Conservatism well explained and implemented is a winning ticket every time it is tried. All too often in this political atmosphere conservatives are afraid to be conservatives while the liberals proclaim their statist agenda with more and more boldness. We should not shy away from the debate. I hope you are that man Mr. Korom. From what I can tell, you might just be.
Mike Korom February 27, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Larry, thank you for your response and support. I just received word that M. Beaudreau, J. Olberholtzer, and I will be speaking at the monthly Tea Party meeting this Thursday evening at 7:30. It's at the Flying Machine in Lawrenceville which is at the airport. What a great way for citizens to see each of us, our positions and styles and evaluate the candidates! Rep. Rob Woodall will be speaking as well. If you are on Facebook you can search me by name and 'friend' me. Also, I'm in the process of writing my second blog. Time permitting, I will post it either today or tomorrow. These are wonderfully busy times! I humbly welcome your help on my campaign. Spread the word!
Floyd Akridge February 28, 2012 at 02:09 AM
Larry...while I respect your opinion I also tire of hearing the same ole' "....establishment" yet again. It's just a catch phrase that has less than zero meaning by now. It's very easy for you to sit a mile away and take aim at things you don't like, which is of course your right, but you don't have to actually do the work of governance. For those on the outside looking in it seems to be a simplistic thing. It is not by any means. Because of my extensive experience with him, I am very satisfied with Commissioner Beaudreau's conservative credentials. As I've mentioned here before he is the first Gwinnett officeholder whom I have supported for re-election after supporting them initially.
Floyd Akridge February 28, 2012 at 02:12 AM
I completely agree...not everyone needs to be attending college. It sounds bad to phrase it like that but it's the simple truth. There are plenty of excellent and needful careers that just don't need a college education. It doesn't reflect on one's intelligence but rather what is proper preperation for a career choice.
Cynthia Montgomery February 28, 2012 at 07:30 AM
Baby F, Since you ARE in the "inner circle" please explain exactly how Baby M came to his decisions on the airport and the trash issues. With so many of those he is representing against these two issues that have such a direct impact on our lives, why did he vote against us? I own rental property, I may have a home sitting empty for various reasons & do not need to have trash pick up for a few months. I am charged for a service that I am not using.If you are moving & your house has not sold yet ,one still has to pay for pickup yet no one is living in the house! I look forward to seeing each of the candidates at the summer debate. We will be able to judge each man's views on where he wants to take our county. I hope each person will also join the 'TAKE 5' Project. "TAKE 5," ask each republican to identify 5 people they know that have not been voting. You are asked to get them registered or get them to the polls if they are registered. Look for the citizen whom has ben saying, as an excuse for his own citizenship laziness,"Well my vote won't count or my vote will just get cancelled out!" and take them to the polls in your car. We are in this sad shape because they choose to opt out. Our country is controlled by voters! If you are not pleased with the economy, you can correct that mistake this election, we need all citizens at the polls this November. Please begin to look for your 5 people! Obama's buses will be rolling to get his votes in! Educate Yourself & Vote!
Floyd Akridge February 28, 2012 at 08:36 AM
Cinthia...for someone who claims to have journalism experience you sure do little other than just assume. Of course after your debacle of failing to conduct even a minute of google research (or better yet just asking me) regarding committee assignment I think every reader here knows that already. At the risk of stating the obvious...let me educate you yet again. I have not been involved in any political campaign since 2008. I also conversed a metric ton less with Commissioner Beaudreau in the last 4 years than I did in the previous 4. Of course being heavily involved in the 2004 campaign some of that drop off is to be expected but because of my work hours, community service and involvement with youth baseball I really didn't have all that much direct interaction with him. Inner circle? Sorry to pull a Clinton but it depends on the definition. It did, however, give me a different observation position and frankly I liked what I saw. That's why I'm supporting him again and happy to do so. Regarding getting people to vote...I could not agree with you more. I've had the opportunity to be in a nation where our type of freedoms simply don't exist. We are in lockstep on that issue for sure and for certain.
The Dish February 28, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Good luck Mr Korom. I look forward to hearing more about your campaign. Cynthia - you go girl! I too have had a negative personal experience with Beaudreau. His condescending email response to me several years ago guaranteed that I would not vote for him again. (Maybe he has since stopped replying because he can't help but be his normal arrogant self - and I was certain to let him know that his response cost any future vote from me........I say future because I voted for him originally) But whether he responds to emails or not, the videos of his Saturday meetings are out there so everyone can still see how patronizing he is to someone that disagrees with or questions his position.
Jen February 28, 2012 at 04:50 PM
I believe it, because he never responded to my letter either. When I attended one of his Saturday constituent meetings, he was rude, condescending and dismissive. He was like this with me, as well as other people who have attempted to discuss disputed issues with him. The general opinion of those I speak with is that it's well past time for Commissioner Beaudreau to go. Our only question is who has the best chance of replacing him.
Cynthia Montgomery February 28, 2012 at 05:43 PM
The Dish, Thank you for your supportive comments. I get paid to prepare people for public appearances & job interviews. I know the value of a good first impression. You never get a second change at a first impression! In that light, I simply repeat Baby Mikey made a poor impression on me as he did on you! The PATCH brings all to light now days through this venue. Baby F, 1, Now the truth is coming out. In 2004, when you WERE with the Baby Mikey Campaign, the cost of gas in February was $1.70 a gallon! Gas prices have changed & so has Baby Mikey's politics. He began wanting to serve the people of his district, now he listens to those with money, according to his voters. 2. To "check you out" assumes that I believe your one vote is more important than my one vote because you are on a board. Your "reasoning" that all should 'Check You Out" implies arrogance, a corner stone of the Baby Mikey campaign. You present yourself as a Baby Mikey "insider" & yet have no insight at all as to his negative votes on the trash & airport issues. Since we are in the US of A, we are allowed to agree to disagree in this country. I look forward to hearing each candidate at the Summer Debate! We will announce the specifics after the qualifying time period has ended. I look forward to meeting you at the event and hope you will have some great questions for the candidate. 3. I am glad you are supportive of the TAKE 5 Project. Whom will you take to the polls? Better yet, Bring 5 to the debates!
U.B.in Gwinnett April 26, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Are we talking about this same Mike? Gary’s Grading and Pipeline Inc.(http://loganville.patch.com/articles/road-closure-on-oak-grove-road-and-lane-shift-on-state-route-20-to-begin-this-week) gave a nice $1000 campaign donation to Gwinnett County Commissioner Mike Beaudreau on March 15, 2012. Couldn't Mike ask this Contracted Company to get in gear and at least show up to work on the project? The project cost almost $11 Million. Surely there has to be some back and forth discussion between these 2.
U.B.in Gwinnett April 27, 2012 at 06:07 AM
Marietta knows Gary's Grading all too well. Well enough to ban them from ever submitting proposals again. http://www.mdjonline.com/view/full_story/16521133/article-Water-board-votes-to-oust-Gary%E2%80%99s-Grading?instance=home_news_bullets
U.B.in Gwinnett April 27, 2012 at 06:08 AM
bids not proposals sorry
M.K. OSBORNE April 27, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Floyd where are you ,Damage control awaits you.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew April 27, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Seems even Floyd needs to hire some staff now...
U.B.in Gwinnett April 27, 2012 at 10:03 PM
So I'm new to all this investigative freelancing of Elected Officials thing. Like I said, I assume it's not illegal to receive campaign donations from anyone, don't know the official law on it. As I pour over just one of the BOC 2012 campaign contributors (I plan to review them all) we'll call this one ehhh, Mike. It seems that the majority of the companies and people that donate to the Commissioner are engineers, contractors, that have been awarded very large dollar contracts from the County. Does this just seem shady on the surface, but is perfectly legal? I understand that no entity is allowed to contact the Board when an open bid is submitted. That would be dif. for the public to prove. To me, John Q. Public, it seems like a thank you donation. Maybe it's just the way the system works. Anyone know the laws? I'm not saying any of them have broken laws or ethics. Just curious what the law is.
Gail Lane April 28, 2012 at 01:25 AM
You can maybe start here http://ethics.ga.gov/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/CampaignFinance-Act2011FINAL.pdf The site also shows you which candidates have filed, when they filed their reports, if there are any violations or fines, the names of campaign committees, etc.

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