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Three vie to unseat Mathis
by Mary Cosgrove
July 02, 2012 02:43 PM | 2374 views | 3 3 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Henry County Commission Chairman Elizabeth “BJ” Mathis is facing three challengers to unseat her in this year’s election.

Mathis served four years on the commission before being elected to her first term as chairman. She points to economic development in the county as one her top accomplishments.

She said she’s also assisted in solidifying Henry County as a leader at the state, regional and federal level; she’s helped build a strong relationship with the Henry County Board of Education to improve public education; as well as supporting a strong public safety department.

Mathis said she also takes pride in transportation projects during the last four years including Eagles Landing Parkway and the Jodeco Bridge Road replacement.

If re-elected, she said she hopes to continue to be a good steward of the taxpayer’s money.

Democratic candidate Carlotta Harrell, who is the field director for the Georgia Conference of Black Mayors, said she would like to broaden the county’s tax base.

She said she would like to see economic development in the fields of agriculture, aviation, aerospace, biomedical healthcare, information technology and logistics.

“You have leadership [on the board] that has been there eight to 20 years and they have continued to depend on property taxes to be the guiding force of the budget,” she said. “I believe in smart growth. I believe we should offer aggressive tax incentives in order to attract the type of business we want here.”

Republican candidate Jane Askew Rutledge disagrees on offering tax incentives, but she does want to see economic growth.

The 11th generation Henry County native said spending also needs to be reigned in.

“I’m seeing so much wasteful spending that may have been good if the economy was good,” she said. But spending money on an airport, purchasing property and buildings that come at the cost of layoffs and furlough days, she said she cannot see sense in.

Rutledge said she wants to see an end to furlough days and funding put back into county services such as senior services, libraries and schools.

Republican candidate Tommy Smith said he would also like to see what he calls wasteful spending nipped in the bud.

The retired air traffic controller and former mayor of Stockbridge points to the purchase of the airport and golf course, in addition to millions spent on land purchases as unnecessary purchases.

“They are spending this money under the name of economic development in order to generate jobs,” meanwhile employees are being furloughed or laid off, he said. Smith said he is also adamantly against the one-cent TSPLOST that will come to vote July 31.

“I think it’s an unnecessary tax and the county won’t get the whole benefit of it,” he said.
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Earnest about Henry
July 03, 2012
I agree with Tommy Smith, he is best suited to be the new leader on the Board of Commissioners in our County. Since 2008 all our citizens have seen is the spending the current board has agreed upon. It is time to take a new direction toward more open forums regarding purchases our County makes with our tax payer dollars. I live in District II and I was glad to see that Mr. Preston did not agree with the 10 million increase of the County budget, he stood his ground, we need this type of Commissioner as well.
Rusty Rose
July 04, 2012
When public officials are elected we expect them to deal with today's issues, with an eye on the future. It would be a poor leader who didn't have vision and was willing to make hard decisions. Ms. Mathis has made some tough decisions while investing in Henry County's future. It's easy to play Monday morning quarterback and criticize those decisions, but eventually Henry County willbenefit greatly for her willingness to lead.
Realistic Observer
July 16, 2012
I totally diagree about Brian Preston. He deserted his job on the School Board with Henry County Schools, and thereby, deserted the children of Henry County. No one who does that should be elected to any future political position. That should be considered political suicide to desert an elected position to take an appointed position, just to forward his own political career and political agenda. I hope voters will remember this when they go to the polls.
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