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Ewing to seek third term as commissioner
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Promising to work to preserve Newton County's rural character and to work to secure a stable water supply for the future, Mort Ewing announced he will seek a third term as District 1 commissioner.

Ewing said he decided to run for re-election after he was asked to do so by his constituents.

"I'm a good listener. I listen to what people want," said Ewing who is running as a Republican. "I think it's important to understand you take the oath of office for the whole county. You have to establish priorities for all the people."

 In meeting with people from his district, Ewing said he heard one concern repeated over and over - how secure was the county's water supply in times of future drought?

"Bear Creek Reservoir will continue to be a priority to me if I'm elected," Ewing said.

In addition to seeing the new reservoir constructed, Ewing said it was important the county continue to maintain stream buffers in new developments to protect the quality of residents' drinking water.

 Pointing out that the majority of the county's recent violent crimes have occurred in the unincorporated and heavily populated western half of the county, Ewing said he would work to steer future residential developments into the county's municipalities where he says there is the infrastructure to handle higher density housing.

"We must continue to address the density of our development," Ewing said. "People don't like density outside the city because we can't provide protection."

The Newton County Sherriff's Office has 133 law enforcement personnel on staff to patrol a county with more than 72,800 unincorporated residents. In comparison the Covington Police Department has a staff of 53 to oversee a city with a population of less than 15,000 residents.

Ewing said he was in favor of rewriting the county's zoning ordinances to increase the minimum residential lot size to two acres in all residential zonings. Ewing said he was also in support of the county bringing a Transfer of Developmental Rights program to the county.

TDR programs are used to funnel development away from rural areas towards areas with the infrastructure to support higher density developments.

A presentation on a draft ordinance for a TDR program for the county was given to the Board of Commissioners at a work session earlier this month. Ewing said the board asked for additional information on the feasibility of applying TDRs in the county to be presented at the next work session on the matter.

"We're working extremely hard to add Transfer of Developmental Rights as a tool in our planning toolbox," Ewing said. "We hope our cities will see fit to participate where they have the infrastructure."

If re-elected Ewing said he would work to ensure the county continued to operate on a balanced budget.

"The economy is sluggish," Ewing said. "We just have to learn to live within our means."

Ewing voted against a recent proposal to put a senior citizen homestead tax exemption on the ballot this year. If passed the proposal would lead to at least a $437,000 decrease in revenue for the county annually. The proposal passed 3 to 2.

A sixth generation farmer, Ewing has lived in District 1 all his life. Today the Ewing family farm produces Bermuda hay with the balance of farm land used for pasture and timber. The Ewing Farm has received several awards including recognition as a top producing "All Jersey" dairy farm for the state and a 1994 Conservation Farm designation from the National Association of Conservation Districts

From 1988 to 1994 Ewing served as president and CEO of the Georgia Farm Bureau and as vice president of the American Farm Bureau. Once one of Georgia Trend Magazine's 10 Most Influential Men in Georgia, he is now the treasurer of the Newton County Land Trust and a member of the Piedmont Cattlemen's Association.

A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Ewing also manages the Covington office of Jones, Ewing, Dobbs & Tamplin, Inc., an independent insurance agency. He and his wife Faye have two sons.

Of the three county commission seats up for election this year, Ewing is the only seated commissioner to seek re-election. District 3 Commissioner Ester Fleming and District 5 Commissioner Monty Laster, both Republicans, have said they would not run for re-election.