Local farmer Keith Mitcham has thrown his hat into the District 3 Commissioner race.
Mitcham, who will be running as a Republican, will be opposed by local businessman and Democrat Jimmy Clark. The current District 3 commissioner, Republican Ester Fleming, has announced he will not seek re-election this November. This is the first public office Mitcham has run for.
Mitcham is a fifth-generation Newton County farmer. His family farm, Mitcham Cattle Company, is over a century old. The Mitcham farm is a 1,000 cattle stocker operation. The farm is also well known for annually hosting Colonel Cob's Corn Maze.
"Seeing the growth over the past few years, I guess my main reason would be preservation," Mitcham said of his motivation to seek public office. "You're not going to be able to stop commercial growth. I'm not for zero growth but I guess smart growth."
Mitcham said he was in favor of keeping all of the current conservation easements in place, including requirements on the minimum size of new homes, which is currently 1,800 heated square feet. Clark has said he would like to see the minimum size lowered to allow for the building of smaller homes.
Mitcham said he was in support of "anything that we can do to preserve farm land [and] wooded areas."
"I believe what makes a good politician is not what he says but what he hears," Mitcham, 33, said. "I really want to get out and hear the voice of the people."
Mitcham is a member of the Newton County Farm Bureau where he serves on the bureau's board of directors and is chairman of the bureau's legislative committee. He also serves on the Georgia Farm Bureau's Young Farmer Committee. In 2004 Mitcham and his wife, Sandi, were the state winners of the Young Farmer Achievement Award.
A graduate of Newton County High School, Mitcham also attended Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. The Mitchams have two sons and are members of Oxford Baptist Church.
"There's no way of stopping growth in Newton County but I do really want to preserve [the county]," Mitcham said. "I think if we can keep the right kind of growth in Newton County, a lot of the problems will solve themselves as far as revenue."