Con­test shap­ing up for District 5 seat

Vin­son and Flem­ing vie for va­cat­ing po­si­tion new­ton county

The Covington News - - Front Page - By Rachel Oswald

With the heat­ed­ness of last month seem­ingly be­hind them, the two candidates in the race for the Board of Com­mis­sioner’s District 5 seat are buck­ling down in the last few weeks be­fore the gen­eral elec­tion and have cov­ered the county in cam­paign signs.

Candidates Tim Flem­ing ( R) and Randy Vin­son ( D) are vy­ing for the seat that will be va­cated by Com­mis­sioner Monty Laster at the end of the year.

Flem­ing, the son of re­tir­ing District 3 Com­mis­sioner Ester Flem­ing, said his num­ber one pri­or­ity if he is elected would be bring­ing more busi­nesses to the county.

“I will be an ad­vo­cate for vig­or­ously at­tract­ing com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment be­cause I be­lieve it is the back­bone of our econ­omy,” said Flem­ing, who is the gov­ern­ment and reg­u­la­tory af­fairs di­rec­tor for KLiP Com­mu­ni­ca­tions. “ We’ve got the ed­u­ca­tion. We’ve got the higher in­sti­tutes of ed­u­ca­tion. We’ve got the work­force. Now we need to con­tinue to bring th­ese busi­nesses and in­dus­tries to our county.”

Flem­ing said his other pri­or­i­ties would be im­prov­ing the county’s road in­fra­struc­ture and en­sur­ing that the county has an ad­e­quate wa­ter sup­ply for fu­ture needs. He stressed the im­por­tance of work­ing closely with the state and tak­ing proac­tive steps by pur­su­ing road projects on the county’s own to demon­strate to the Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion the county’s

determination to have an ad­e­quate roads sys­tem.

Vin­son, an ar­chi­tect em­ployed by the Arnold Fund, also said his high­est pri­or­ity will be re­cruit­ing new busi­nesses to come to the county. But where Flem­ing stresses the need for more com­mer­cial busi­nesses, Vin­son said he be­lieves more agribusi­nesses are what the county needs.

“ I be­lieve we’re miss­ing some golden op­por­tu­ni­ties that I think we should be ex­plor­ing. I think we’re not purs­ing agribusi­ness as ag­gres­sively as we could be,” Vin­son said, adding that hav­ing more agribusi­nesses and farms in the county would not only bring in more tax dol­lars but also re­duce the amount of land that needs to be de­vel­oped with in­fra­struc­ture. “ Cows don’t go to school. Agribusi­ness would pre­serve thou­sands of acres very ef­fec­tively.”

Both candidates stressed the tough job ahead of the Board of Com­mis­sion­ers in main­tain­ing a proper level of county ser­vices in the face of de­clin­ing tax rev­enues.

“ We’re go­ing to have to be fis­cally con­ser­va­tive with the tax­pay­ers’ dol­lars,” Flem­ing said. “ The county has done a good job through­out the years and we’re go­ing to have to con­tinue op­er­at­ing within our means.”

Flem­ing said that cer­tain projects in the plan­ning stages for the county might have “ to be put on the back burner for awhile un­til we get through this eco­nomic down­turn.”

“ I don’t want to raise prop­erty taxes but then you don’t want to cut ser­vices that our cit­i­zens de­serve and ex­pect,” Flem­ing said, adding that he be­lieves the county can get by for the present without rais­ing prop­erty taxes and without cut­ting too many ser­vices. “ We’re go­ing to have to make cuts across the board to con­tinue to op­er­ate within our means.”

Vin­son said his back­ground as a de­sign pro­fes­sional will serve him well in com­ing up with creative so­lu­tions for the county to do more with less.

“ We’re taught to look at prob­lems in a dif­fer­ent way than most peo­ple do in or­der to solve them,” said Vin­son, who helped to de­sign Clark’s Grove of Cov­ing­ton and Mount Pleas­ant, the col­lege town the Arnold Fund plans to build next to Ge­or­gia Perime­ter Col­lege.

Vin­son said he knows what it takes to bring multi- mil­lion dol­lar projects to com­ple­tion on bud­get and on time, some­thing he has done for years with the Arnold Fund. Hav­ing this ex­pe­ri­ence he said would serve him well in mak­ing de­ci­sions about ex­pen­sive in­fra­struc­ture projects on the board.

“ I’m not in fa­vor of rais­ing taxes at all,” Vin­son said. “ I think we would have to look at ev­ery depart­ment for po­ten­tial ef­fi­cien­cies. I think the cre­ativ­ity that I can bring to the board will help. I’ll be able to help find po­ten­tial ways to save money.”

In ad­di­tion to his work with the Arnold Fund, Vin­son is an en­vi­ron­men­tal de­sign in­struc­tor for UGA where he teaches stu­dents the prin­ci­ples of mixe­duse de­vel­op­ment and smart growth. He has nearly two decades of ex­pe­ri­ence, plan­ning, teach­ing and work­ing on growth and de­vel­op­ment is­sues. Vin­son and his wife, Sara, have lived in the county since 1994 and have two young chil­dren.

“ I re­ally feel that the years of ser­vice I’ve given to New­ton County has en­abled me to hear from many, many of the cit­i­zens of the county and I know the goals that they’ve been hop­ing for the county and I’ll work to pro­tect those and strive to main­tain the qual­ity of life that they’re ex­pect­ing,” Vin­son said.

Flem­ing said his ex­pe­ri­ences work­ing for KLiP have pre­pared him for the rig­ors of serv­ing on the BOC.

“ I have sev­eral years of ex­pe­ri­ence of work­ing with gov­ern­ment on the lo­cal level and the state level. I know what it takes to get things done,” he said. “ I’ve been there work­ing with lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in my job in the South­east. I know the hard­ships a lot of lo­cal gov­ern­ments have on meet­ing bud­gets, find­ing the money to sup­port var­i­ous projects.”

Flem­ing also pointed to the work­ing re­la­tion­ships he has al­ready formed with New­ton County’s all- Repub­li­can del­e­ga­tion to the state leg­is­la­ture as an­other as­set he will bring to the BOC.

He is a life­long res­i­dent of New­ton County and a grad­u­ate of the Uni­ver­sity of Ge­or­gia where he earned a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in Po­lit­i­cal Sci­ence. He has also worked on sev­eral na­tional and state Repub­li­can cam­paigns. Flem­ing and his wife, Lacey, are newly mar­ried.

“ I know what’s go­ing on in the county. I know the is­sues at hand and I know what the cit­i­zens ex­pect and de­serve out of their lo­cal leaders,” Flem­ing said.


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