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Posted: April 25, 2010 12:30 a.m.

Kenneth Hardeman to run for D4 BOC

Local educator, planning commission member to run against Henderson

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Kenneth Hardeman

District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson will face competition in the July 20 Democratic primary, as local educator Kenneth Hardeman announced he will vie for the seat.

Hardeman, a lifelong resident of Newton County, said he was wanted to run for county commissioner ever since the days of former commissioner Harold Cobb, known as the lion of the 4th district.

“I always had a deep respect for him and the leadership he embraced quietly,” Hardeman said. “I meet a lot of people in the community and they share their concerns with me. I want to be a part of helping make changes. I want to run for the position to help to share all the good things Newton County is about.”

For the past five years, Hardeman has worked at Mainstay Academy with special needs children, including those with severe emotional and behavioral disabilities. Mainstay, which is located behind Sharp Learning Center, is part of Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Supports.

Hardeman said he believes his variety of experiences in education and business and his time on the county planning commission give him a good perspective on what citizens want and how the county can grow positively. He said he wants to be active, accessible and accountable by being involved, educating constituents about how government works and finding solutions to problems.

“I don’t run with the thought that I have all the answers, but I have the spirit and desire to lead Newton County in a positive way,” Hardeman said “I’m not presenting an agenda that I have the cure all for the county’s ills, because I don’t. But I’m visionary enough to know we need to be thinking about monies. We need to aggressively sell Newton County as a good place to live, increasing industry to increase the tax base.

“We need to look at how to spend money. I have no pet peeve about how we’re spending now, but I think we can forensically look at a budget and always find money. As the economy lets us know, we can live and survive on less. I’m not advocating a whole lot of cutbacks, but we need to be more creative in how to transact the business of the county. I want to reach out to the people in the community who know things and can help.”

Hardeman has previously worked with the school system in remedial education, worked as a manager for the Jameson Inn hotel company for nine years and worked in customer service in the credit card and merchant areas for Fulton National Bank and Citibank.

In addition, Hardeman worked as a project manager for The Singer Company, now known as Career System Development Corporation, where he focused on job training. He worked with local industries to find out what they needed in their workers.

Finally, he said his nearly six years on the planning commission have helped him see the influx of citizens to the county and understand how changes in one district affect the entire county. He said he wants to see smart growth; he doesn’t Newton County to just be a bedroom community.

“I want to try to be one community with one focus. I don’t want there be a good side of town or good district, but I want us all to have the same level of service,  to a certain degree,” he said. “I’m not anti-move in, but I just want to be a part of change and control growt in a way to keep it environmentally safe. I want industry, clean industry. I want people to live in quality, decent housing. I don’t want to become a bedroom slum, but we have to face that we’re a part of the metro area.”

Hardeman said he isn’t running against Henderson, but he does believe he can bring something new to District 4.

“I think current Commissioner Henderson has a deep passion for District 4, but I want to be able to bring a new synergy to the district. Sometimes change is good. I’m not running for change, but I think I bring some experience to the office that we need at this season of this county’s history that can impact our future. I am willing and able to be a part of that futuristic growth,” he said.

As with many candidates, he said providing jobs and increasing safety are two major concerns. He said protecting air and water quality are also important to him.

Hardeman graduated from Newton County High School, and attended Fort Valley State and Georgia State universities. He is the facilities chairperson at Bethlehem Baptist Church and is a supporter of Newton Mentoring and Newton Reads. His wife Eula Hardeman is a member on the Covington Planning Commission. He has four children Alison Jackson, Kimberly Hardeman-Bates, Kenneth Oneal Hardeman and Lakeidra Hardeman-Mitchell.

For more information you can reach Hardeman on his cell phone at (770) 896-4230 or by e-mail at kenhardeman@gmail.com

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