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Smith, Harrell to square off in November commission chairman race
by Mary Cosgrove
mcosgrove@neighbornewspapers.com
August 28, 2012 03:29 PM | 1391 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Now that Henry County Commission chairman Republican candidate Tommy Smith has secured the runoff race against incumbent, Elizabeth “B.J.” Mathis, he will square off with Democratic candidate Carlotta Harrell.

Smith won the runoff with 58.4 percent of the vote against Mathis’ 41.52, a difference of 1,900 votes.

“In my mind, Henry County voters voted [Aug. 21] to take back Henry County,” Smith said.

Indeed, Henry County residents are ready for a change, Harrell said.

“I think people spoke loudly when they went to the polls on Aug. 21 that they do want change,” she said.

The change Smith is offering to residents is keeping the focus on Henry County itself, instead of lumping the area in with metro Atlanta.

“They really want to be Henry County and not so much Atlanta,” he said.

Mathis’ focus, Smith said, was too regional.

“We don’t want that to be our main agenda,” he said.

While Smith said one of his main platform items was opposing the regional T-SPLOST, which was voted down overwhelmingly in Henry County, he continues moving forward with his platform of eliminating wasteful spending.

“We are in debt up to our ears,” he said. “We’re going to change all of that.”

Smith is the former mayor of Hampton, and said he will continue the level of transparency he built during his tenure.

Harrell said she is focused on economic development, and believes the county is a prime location for development in aerospace, healthcare, information technology and logistics, among others.

“My message is about the quality of life for all residents here in Henry County — public safety, making sure we bring smart growth and innovative and high tech jobs to our community and try to figure out ways that we can create public and private partnerships that will relieve our taxpayers…,” she said.

Harrell said she believes transparency is an important quality, and invites residents to call her at (770) 597-7544 to share questions and concerns.

Mathis, who has served one term as chairman and one term as a district commissioner prior to her election to chairman, said she will end her term strongly.

“I will spend my last few months working as hard for the people as I did in my first few months,” she said.

Instead of being upset about her loss, Mathis said she is thankful for the opportunity to serve the county.

“Many heartfelt thanks go to the citizens of the county for allowing me to represent them as their chairman, but most of all, I want to thank my husband John, and my children, whom I love with all of my heart.”
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