Business owner and veteran Jared Rutberg is running as Republican for the District 5 board of commissioners seat in the hope of improving his community while keeping taxes down.
Rutberg, who owns JRJ Construction and two oil change shops, said he feels running for office is a natural move for him as he's been heavily involved in community organizations since he moved to Newton County eight years ago.
"Inherently, I'm a leader, not a follower, and I'm going to be active and going to lead in whatever situation I'm in," Rutberg said. "As a parent, husband and family man, I want it to best place for my children to grow up, and the best place for my friends, neighbors, family to live, work and play."
Rutberg, 38, said he's running for a board seat because he believes being a voting member on the board will given the greatest ability to affect the future policies of the county.
Rutberg promised he would not raise taxes and hoped to actually decrease the millage rate over time back below the 9.73 level it was at previously. The millage, or property tax, rate is currently at 10.91.
In order to lower that base, Rutberg wants to make balancing the tax base, by recruiting significantly more industry and commercial business, a main priority.
"I want to balance the tax base to alleviate the burden on homeowners, because right now the base is so property tax driven that it creates a lot of burden on homeowners," Rutberg said Wednesday. "I will not raise the millage rate, period."
Rutberg said he wanted to emphasize out-of-the-box thinking, ingenuity and a can-do attitude to take on the tough economic issues facing Newton County.
"I want to take a holistic approach to make Newton County the best place to live, work and play. We love Newton County, but every situation can be better I want to make the county more attractive for everybody," he said.
As a business owner, he said he is a firm believer in in-depth business plans and hoped that every county department would work off such a plan.
When asked whether the county should increase spending on the chamber's economic development arm, he said yes, because even doubling current funding would still put the local chamber below surrounding counties. He said the chamber has proven it can be effective on a shoestring budget, but to have continued successes he felt it needed more money.
Rutberg has owned JRJ Construction since 1999, though he mainly did furniture building until 2005, when he began to do residential and commercial remodeling. The company has three full-time employees, including Rutberg and his wife.
He previously worked for Lithonia Lighting for 19 months, working as a corporate project manager.
He and his wife also own Quick Change Lube and Service, which they bought in 2009, and Covington Pro Lube, which opened in January 2012.
Rutberg handles contracts, vendors and financial oversight for all three businesses. The two quick lube shops employ eight employees.
Rutberg also served in active duty in the U.S. Army as a commissioned officer for eight and a half years, working as a Black Hawk helicopter pilot, paratrooper and jump master. He served as a company commander in both South Korea and Afghanistan. He earned the Bronze Star during his service.
Rutberg graduated from Henry Hudson Regional High School in New Jersey and then attended Springfield College in Massachusetts, where he graduate with a bachelor's degree in physical education in 1995.
Nonprofit and civic involvement
Rutberg serves as the chairman of the Career Technical Agricultural Education Advisory Board, which focuses on integrating practical business experience into the high school curriculum through either courses or internships and other work experiences.
He is also a member of the Covington Municipal Airport Authority, and is the past president of Newton County Homebuilders Association, where he served for five years.
He and his wife Jennifer, have three boys Kyle, 9, Conner, 6, and Cameron, 10 months. The family attends The Church of the Good Shepherd.
Rutberg can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by cell phone at (678) 361-5946 and on Twitter, @jaredrutberg, and Facebook.
"Based on my experience, I have a proven track record of experience and successes, outside-the-box thinking and an excellent work ethic, combined with having unwavering integrity with how I go about doing any task I have," Rutberg said when asked why people should vote for him. "Where I stand a lot of people can relate to, because I'm a small business owner in the community, I've participated in a variety of organization and been a community leader representing all factions of the county and I'm a veteran parent and husband."