Democrat Toney Collins is jumping back into the electoral fray with a challenge for the redrawn state House District 113, a seat he lost two years ago.
Collins, 46, was in his first term when he lost the primary runoff to now incumbent Rep. Pam Dickerson for the former District 95, which stretched through Newton, Rockdale and Gwinnett. The new District 113 covers a western portion of Newton and a sliver of Rockdale.
Collins said he began thinking of running again right after the runoff. "I'd thought about (running again) during the process of running for re-election and losing... All the things I could have done and all the things in my life at the time."
His father had just died when re-election came up and his heart and energy wasn't in the campaign at the time, he said.
Since then, Collins, a former real estate agent, said he'd been taking care of his elderly mother and living life as a private citizen.
But he said he still has passion for issues such as health care, services and issues regarding senior citizens, recreation and education.
"We still have unemployment, we have medical issues, we need recreation for seniors, Meals on Wheels. With the county being so bad, we need to bring in new jobs and new incentives for companies," he said.
He said he also wanted to finish working on issues, such as a bill he had proposed that passed the House and Senate but was vetoed by the governor. It would have allowed income tax return contributions to educational programs for lupus and kidney disease. Collins suffered kidney disease and underwent a kidney transplant in 2005. He said the experience from his first term would help him be effective as a representative.
"I understand how the system works," he said.
"I'm ready to fight for things. I know how to compromise and talk with people, with other colleagues in the state house. I believe we can get things done."
He added, "That's another reason I think I can make things happen. I think I do have the ear of the other side."
He pointed out he had been appointed in 2011 to the Martin Luther King Jr. Advisory Council and nominated by House Speaker David Ralston.
He said he'd recently become an agent with a Pennsylvania-based company that produces crops such as long grain rice, cassava, corn, soy beans. He said bringing green technology could help Newton and Walton's economy.
"I wanted to bring in the green technologies. In our area, we have all types of green technologies that can help bring economic stability here. Growing corn, growing pine trees. We can start with chicken waste to bring biodiesel, which can bring in jobs and bring down the gasoline rate here."
He said he didn't think senior citizens need to pay the school portion of their property tax, but more should be spent on education to prevent paying for kids ending up in jails later down the road. Students need to receive job training to prepare them for life once they leave school, he said.
If he were elected again, he said he would work on being more visible to constituents and work closely local groups, such as the Chamber of Commerce and local mayors and commissioners.
"They have to give me some issues to take care of," he said. He said he would hold town hall meetings and possibly have a newsletter. "You have to connect with a lot of people."
Collins faces incumbent Democrat Rep. Pam Dickerson and another Democratic challenger Sharon Sawyer in the July 31primary. To contact Collins, email firstname.lastname@example.org.