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.