It was my honor to serve as chairman of the Columbia County Board of Commissioners in 2001 and again in 2002 until June of this year. At that time, I stepped down to qualify to run for the seat of Bill Jackson, our retiring current member of the Georgia House of Representatives representing Columbia County.
Bill has been a good and faithful servant to our community for over 30 years. He first served as chairman of our School Board in 1969, where he worked with fellow board member and later chairman, Guy Fleming, my father. Since then he has represented us well in the state Legislature, and his experience and dedication to our community will be missed.
Im proud Bill has decided to endorse me for his seat. My service as Commission chairman will allow me to hit the ground running. I have the experience to know and understand issues that are important to our growing community.
One of those issues is the outdated state laws which forbid Columbia County from using our voter-approved sales tax funds to improve our water, sewer and stormwater systems. Under the current state law, we are discriminated against because we are not a municipal form of government. I will be able to explain the need for change in these laws to my fellow legislators because I have dealt with these problems firsthand on the Commission.
Another issue I have hands-on experience with is the need to change our states economic incentive system. The current design punishes Harlem and Grovetown, and makes it difficult for our county to compete with our next-door neighbors in South Carolina for new industries seeking to relocate or open new facilities. These wrongs need to be righted, and I have the experience from dealing with these issues directly to advocate legislation designed to make the needed changes.
There are also other statewide issues, such as changes in our criminal law, which need to be implemented. Many are familiar with the brutal rape and murder committed in our community by Alexander Williams. He was sentenced to death in for his heinous crimes, only to have that punishment removed by a board of soft on crime Pardon and Parole Board members appointed by our Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes. In most states, the governor has the sole power and authority to make changes in a jurys sentence, but not in Georgia. We need to model our system after the overwhelming majority of other states. There the governor, and only the governor, who has to answer to the voters at election time, can commute sentences. My background as an attorney will allow me to effectively address these issues and push for needed changes.
Besides these specific changes, my general philosophy is that of a traditional Republican. I believe in lower taxes, limited government, local control, and personal accountability for ones own actions. Most importantly, I believe we will only be a strong nation if we are truly one nation under God.
If you believe in these principles, then on Nov. 5 vote not only for me, but also for the other Republican candidates, especially Sonny Purdue for governor and Saxby Chambliss for U.S. Senate. This year has the makings of close elections statewide, and a large turnout in Columbia County could make a difference. So encourage your right-minded friends and neighbors to vote on Nov. 5.
I appreciate your vote and support.
(Barry Fleming is a Republican candidate for the District 79 seat in the Georgia House of Representatives.)
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