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Future commissioner working in community before tackling public service role Jan. 1
Alana Sanders
Alana Sanders - photo by Special to The Covington News

COVINGTON, Ga. — Out of five Newton County Commission candidates heading toward the Nov. 3 election only one already knows her likely fate.

Alana Sanders is busy working on community projects and learning what she can about county government as she waits to fill the District 3 seat on the Newton County Board of Commissioners Jan. 1.

Sanders is a business and marketing professional whose varied career has included work as a business professor for colleges like Liberty and Kaplan universities; as a singer and fitness instructor; and as an online radio host.

In her first run for office, Sanders defeated three-term incumbent Nancy Schulz in the June 9 Democratic primary election for the District 3 board seat representing a narrow area of north and western Newton County bordering Rockdale County.

She is unopposed in the Nov. 3 general election while two sitting commissioners face challengers.

Sanders has attended some commission meetings and some special events — such as groundbreakings for an addition to the sheriff’s office and a new Oxford-area fire station — after county officials invited her because of her status as an incoming commissioner, she said.

Newton County commissioners have taken some potentially impactful votes since her primary election victory — such as approval of the 2021 county budget and removal of the Confederate statue from the Covington Square.

However, she said she did not want to comment on those issues because she did not receive the information commissioners did before taking their votes. 

“To effectively comment on those items mentioned, I would have to be privy to all details that the commissioners receive directly from the (county) attorney or any parties involved to comment,” Sanders said. 

“I believe in dealing with the facts and concrete evidence along with being involved in their current executive board meeting (before) discussing why decisions were made,” she said.

Sanders has worked in recent months on such community projects as a series of food and school supply donations to residents facing economic hardships due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic.

She recently organized a giveaway of free office equipment donated by major national retailers like IKEA.

Sanders said she tried to meet as many people as she could during her campaign early this year.

“As a resident in District 3 for over 13 years and listening to the concerns of my neighbors there are many items the residents would like to see changed and improved in the community,” she said. 

“I also mentioned these items during my campaign, in the candidates forum, and on all my social media networks.”

Residents told her they wanted more recreational facilities for both elderly and young people in the diverse district — which runs from the Walton County line at its north end to Brown Bridge Road at its south end. 

“The nearest park is 20 minutes or more away from the area. In some areas of the district it is farther,” Sanders said.

She said she also wanted to work to attract businesses to the area “that cater to the needs of the community.”

“Many of the residents shop in neighboring cities outside of the county because they provide the resources,” Sanders said.

Newton County’s public library system only includes three branches but their media offerings have become much more valuable as almost all students began the school year learning online from teachers.

Sanders said residents told her during her campaign they wanted a library that included updated technology “and is closer to the area.”

District 3’s nearest public library is the Porter Memorial Branch Library miles south of the district on Ga. Hwy. 212.

“Almost similar to the park issue the library is not being utilized by our district as much because of the distance. We need a hub in our area,” she said. 

The job of county commissioner “is very similar to many roles I have held over the years as a leader” in her private life with the only difference being “the issues being discussed.”

“If you look at the makeup of the board every one comes from many walks of life before stepping into the position as a commissioner,” she said. 

“The most important aspect is that your community believed in you enough to vote you in as their representative.”