Former Newton County Board of Commissioners Chair Aaron Varner said friends had been asking him for a while if he would run for political office again. He decided he would “sleep on it” the night of Wednesday, March 9, and the next day woke up still perplexed about whether or not he should run, once again, for Chair.
“I said a prayer, and got a peace that fell over me,” Varner said. “That may be a sign. I said ‘I’ll see if I can go through with this and see if people want me to serve again.’
“People were always asking if you’re going to run again. The closer to qualifying it got, the more intense the lobbying got.”
He came to the conclusion that he would run for Chair, and is planning on qualifying on the Republican ticket this week.
Varner was first elected Newton County Chair in 2000 and served through 2008. He said he wants to return stability to the board of commissioners for at least the next four years.
“I’m somewhat saddened about the condition the county has gotten itself in,” Varner said. “I just felt like one of the things the chairman needs to be able to do is work with different groups of people, come to a consensus and move the county forward.
“I see quite a bit of that lacking now.” Although he adds, it’s “not a reflection on any one person.”
Since Varner left political office in 2008 when Democrat Kathy Morgan was elected Chair, he has retired and purchased a farm on the Newton/Jasper county line.
“I have cows and calves, and really enjoy working down there,” Varner said. “It is one of the things that made my decision hard. I was totally comfortable with where I was at.”
He joins a field with one Republican, Levie Maddox and three Democrats, Phillip Johnson; Michael Syphoe and Marcello Banes, having already announced their intention to run for Chair.
The reason for joining that group, Varner said, is to bring leadership back to the commission.
“It’s going to take a lot of work there as far as leadership roles go,” Varner said. “I think any time you have a board, you have to get everybody focused on the issues that you have and try to work through them. Most of the time, you’re not going to have a very clear cut way of doing things. That’s where leadership and the ability to work with different ideas comes in.”
Varner’s father, Roy served four terms as Newton County Chair from 1977-1992.
"I still love this county and love that I was born and raised here,” Varner said. The county has a lot invested in me and I just want to be in the position to serve them and give back some of the effort put in me for future generations.”