Republican Ester Fleming, a former Newton County commissioner and 2010 candidate for the Georgia State Senate, announced Tuesday he will run for the 112th Georgia house seat to replace outgoing incumbent Rep. Doug Holt, R-Social Circle.
Fleming, 64, has been active in the Newton County political scene for decades, serving as a county commissioner for 13 years over two stints in the 1990s and 2000s and working with the local Republican Party, including serving as chairman.
Fleming said his top priorities are attracting new businesses and jobs and supporting the local agriculture industry, as well as keeping the state budget small and taxes low.
He said he plans to work closely with the Stanton Springs industrial park, a 1,600-acre development owned by Newton, Walton, Morgan and Jasper counties. Global pharmaceutical company Baxter International is building a $1 billion manufacturing campus in the park.
"I plan to work closely with the four-county park and the Office of Economic Development through the Governor’s Office to bring more industry to the four-county park. Jobs are crucial," Fleming said. "Of course, an educated workforce is also (crucial, and we need) job training, so we have people ready to go."
The 112th district covers most of Newton County, except the southwest
and central west sections, and all of Morgan County. Fleming said agriculture is the largest industry in the district.
"I know agriculture has suffered, and it’s tough for the mid- and small-market farmers to make it. I’m really going to depend on those groups to tell me what their needs are," he said.
Fleming said he would be a conservative voice in the house.
"As far as budgeting, I am a proven conservative, and will push for less taxes and a budget where we live within our means. I haven’t changed what I’m about," Fleming said, also vowing in a press release "to oppose radical policies like Obamacare coming out of Washington. You have my word that I will do everything possible to stand up for our families and improve our community’s future."
Having also run for the Georgia House in 1998 and the District 17 state senate seat in 2010, Fleming said he’s always had an ambition to be an elected official at the state level. While he finished third in the Republican primary for the state senate seat (25.2 percent), Fleming received the most votes in Newton County and said the race was difficult because two Newton candidates split the vote. He’s optimistic about his chances in 2014.
Fleming has worked for the past 14 years in land acquisition for Gwinnett County, where he focuses on right-of-way issues for road, sewer and stormwater projects. Fleming conducts a lot of research and also answers a lot of questions from the public about road plans. He has been a licensed real estate agent since the mid-1990s, including working previously for Colony Realty; he now works for Covington Realty.
He has also worked in the convenience store industry for years, owning his own store in western Newton County for several years before selling it in 1992. He was also the regional director of operations for Mumford (which has since been purchased by another company), where he oversaw 120 Majik Market convenience stores.
Fleming graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Georgia.
Fleming served as District 2 county commissioner from 1990 to 1996, before ending his second term early to run for chairman. He was not elected chairman, but ran successfully for the District 3 commission seat, which he held from 2000 to 2008. Fleming has previously served as chairman of the Newton GOP multiple times, and his wife, Delia, has also served as chairperson.
He was appointed as a member of the Covington Airport Authority in 2013 and was also appointed to serve a term on the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority by Gov. Sonny Perdue. He also served with the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia during his time as a commissioner.
Fleming lives in Oxford with his wife of 41 years, Delia, and has three sons and three grandchildren.
For more information about Fleming, call him on his cellphone at (678) 618-1188.