BOC Dist. 1 in­cum­bent faces civil en­gi­neer

Ewing and chal­lenger Pa­trick bat­tle for west­ern district

The Covington News - - Front Page - By Rachel Oswald

In the race for District 1 of the Board of Com­mis­sion­ers, Repub­li­can Mort Ewing prom­ises to con­tinue to pro­vide fis­cally con­ser­va­tive lead­er­ship on the board while his Demo­cratic chal­lenger, Mark Pa­trick, says that he will fo­cus on trans­porta­tion prob­lems.

“I think that I have eight years of a track record that peo­ple have fa­vored,” said Ewing, who is run­ning for his third term on the board. “I won all but one precinct in the pri­mary of July 2008 so I think that peo­ple gen­er­ally like what I am do­ing.”

Ewing is a sixth gen­er­a­tion farmer in the county. The Ewing Farm is still in op­er­a­tion to­day. He is the for­mer pres­i­dent and CEO of the Ge­or­gia Farm Bureau and the for­mer vice pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­can Farm Bureau.

“I’ve got many years of per­sonal expe- ri­ence own­ing and op­er­at­ing my own busi­ness. I have the ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of a com­pany that gen­er­ated $250 mil­lion a year and had 1,000 em­ploy­ees and I man­aged that busi­ness ef­fec­tively and ef­fi­ciently,” Ewing said. Pa­trick, a civil en­gi­neer who owns his own en­gi­neer­ing com­pany, says that his pro­fes­sional back­ground and his ed­u­ca­tion will be as­sets for the county if he is elected.

“I’ve got a very good ed­u­ca­tional back­ground and a very good pro­fes­sional back­ground that will help make a dif­fer­ence up there,” said Pa­trick, who earned his B.S. in civil en­gi­neer­ing from Ge­or­gia Tech be­fore open­ing up his own com­pany, M.D. Pa­trick En­gi­neer­ing 20 years ago.

Pa­trick served as chair­man of the New­ton County Wa­ter and Sew­er­age Au­thor­ity from 2001 un­til 2006 and on the au­thor­ity’s board of direc­tors for 10 years. He ran once un­suc­cess­fully for District 1 com­mis­sioner 12 years ago.

The two candidates have slightly dif­fer­ing views on what are the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of a com­mis­sioner. Ewing said the board’s most im­por­tant job is bal­anc­ing the county bud­get ev­ery year. “We have a tremendous re­spon­si­bil­ity to man­age the re­sources that be­long to the 100,000 peo­ple that live in New­ton County and that’s a tremendous re­spon­si­bil­ity that I don’t take lightly,” Ewing said. Pa­trick said hav­ing a grasp on the county’s fi­nances and its de­vel­op­ment codes and or­di­nances were the most im­por­tant re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of a com­mis­sioner. “I’m the type of guy that’s go­ing to fo­cus on the sub­jects at hand and hit them hard un­til they’re solved or rec­ti­fied,” Pa­trick said. If re-elect­edEwing­said­he­would work to en­sure that the county con­tin­ued to op­er­ate within its means as it has for the last eight years. He said it hasn’t been easy do­ing that. Each year the board is usu­ally left with the task of cut­ting any­where from $1 mil­lion to $5 mil­lion in re­quested funds from con­sti­tu­tional of­fi­cers and depart­ment heads from the county’s bud­get. “As far as I’m con­cerned that’s what we’ll have to do ev­ery year that I’m on the board,” Ewing said. “We’ve got to be able to op­er­ate within our means with a bal­anced bud­get.” Ewing said be­cause of the work he and the rest of the board did in the past 18 months, freez­ing empty county po­si­tions, that the county is in bet­ter fi­nan­cial shape than many other coun­ties in the state and is bet­ter po­si­tioned to weather the cur­rent eco­nomic re­ces­sion. “You can’t bor­rowyour­self rich,” Ewing said. Pa­trick said he would fo­cus on bring­ing more jobs to New­ton County if elected, as well as pro­vid­ing “some so­lu­tions to some trans­porta­tion prob­lems.” He said he also be­lieves the board should re­visit its min­i­mum square footage re­quire­ment for sin­gle fam­ily dwellings. Sev­er­a­lyearsago, theBOCvoted on rais­ing the min­i­mum square foot re­quire­ment to 1,800 square feet. Pa­trick said he thinks the board can lower that re­quire­ment to en­cour­age the build­ing of more en­vi­ron­men­tally con­scious and en­ergy ef­fi­cient houses in par­tic­u­lar zon­ing dis­tricts. Pa­trick ac­knowl­edged that who­ever wins the district seat inNovem­ber is go­ing to have their work cut out for them as the econ­omy seeks to right it­self. “I think meet­ing the ser­vices and not rais­ing the mill­age rate is go­ing to be a real chal­lenge,” Pa­trick said. He said he thinks he has an ad­van­tage this year com­pared to his first com­mis­sion race 12 years ago. “I think the dif­fer­ence might be I was pretty young and not that well known in New­ton County and my op­po­nent had a real strong fam­ily back­ground in New­ton County and of course Mort [Ewing] does to but I’m hop­ing that with my pro­fes­sional ex­pe­ri­ence and the things that I can bring to the ta­ble that it might be a lit­tle dif­fer­ent this time,” Pa­trick said. Born in Henry County, Pa­trick moved to New­ton County in 1986. He has three chil­dren and three step-chil­dren with his wife, Martha. “I think I’m a good choice be­cause of my ex­pe­ri­ence and ed­u­ca­tional back­ground and I’m ca­pa­ble of see­ing things from a dif­fer­ent av­enue,” he said. In ad­di­tion to his work run­ning the fam­ily farm, Ewing also man­ages the Cov­ing­ton of­fice of Jones, Ewing, Dobbs & Tam­plin, Inc., an in­de­pen­dent in­sur­ance agency. He and his wife, Faye, have two sons. “I made a liv­ing farm­ing 50 years. That was not an easy task and I just think it says vol­umes for me hav­ing the abil­ity to man­age peo­ple and re­sources,” Ewing said.

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