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District 5 BOC candidates discuss issues
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The race for the Republican nomination for Newton County District 5 commissioner features two candidates with a wide age difference but similar platforms.

This is the first time either candidate has run for elected office.

John Travis, 58, a retired consultant and a current real estate appraiser, says he decided to run because "I feel like we have two choices, we can wait for the inevitability for growth to overwhelm us or we can participate in a proactive government."

Travis, who is a native of Covington, said his strong business background, deep roots in the community and his 25 years of corporate management experience have prepared him for the role of commissioner.

"I think that I can offer a fresh perspective," Travis said. "I don't have any hidden agendas and no personal obligations to anyone other than the voters."

Travis noted the county's real estate sales activity for industrial, commercial and retail has fallen to $25 million this year from $100 million last year.

 "We no longer have the luxury of increasing 7 percent a year in real estate values," Travis said. "Ultimately, the falling real estate values are going to show up in the tax digest."

Tim Fleming, 26, the government and regulatory affairs director for KLiP Communications, said if elected he would "be an advocate for vigorously attracting commercial development. It is the background to our country's economy."

Fleming, also a Newton County native, said he believes his work with KLiP, which has brought him into contact with cities across the Southeast who are developing their infrastructure needs as well as his past work on the campaigns of several national and state-level candidates have prepared him for the job of commissioner.

Fleming, the son of current District 3 Commissioner Ester Fleming, who is not running for re-election, said he will not make any promises to voters on what he will or will not do if elected.

"I can't tell you what tomorrow is going to bring but I promise to work hard for every citizen in the county and to fight for what's right in Newton County," Fleming said.

Calling it a "work in progress," Travis said he was in strong support of the county's Comprehensive Plan.

"I strongly support the city of Covington with regard to its influence in District 5 as it regards the mayor and city council and the mayor's current plan for the future," Travis said.

Travis said he thinks there are two things critical to the success of future high-end industrial, commercial and retail development in the county - full time professional directors at the Covington/Newton County Chamber of Commerce and at the Industrial Development Authority.

"You need the mayor, the other key people and the key businessmen but none of them are really devoted full-time to the task," Travis said, adding that he would support the hiring of a full time professional at the IDA.

Travis currently works with Eddie Phillips, Key Realty. In 2006 he took early retirement after 10 years with the consulting firm, DeWolff, Boberg and Associates, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in operations systems and corporate culture change. For 13 years prior to that he worked for The Coca-Cola Company and Coca-Cola Bottling, holding positions as district manager in Pittsburgh, Penn. and general manager.

He also served on the board of directors of the Mid-Atlantic Canners Association. While in Pennsylvania, Travis served for two years on the board of directors on the Dubois Area Chamber of Commerce and on the Economic Development Authority of Western Pennsylvania.

Travis is a graduate of the University of Georgia where he earned a B.B.A. in international business. He is also a graduate of The Netherlands School of International Business in Amsterdam. He is an eighth-generation Newton County resident. Travis has three children. He attends First Baptist Church of Covington.

Fleming is a graduate of the University of Georgia where he earned a bachelor's degree in political science. Fleming is newly married to his wife Lacey. He is a member of Zion Baptist Church.