Full text of Mort Ewing's letter, dated Jan. 3:
Please allow me this opportunity to advise you that I will not seek re-election as District One Commissioner for the Newton County Board of Commissioners.
On Dec. 31, 2012 I will complete my 12th year as a district commissioner. I have made every effort to be a team player and to make decisions that were in the best interest of Newton County. My personal goal has always been to represent the citizens of Newton County in good faith as an honest public servant.
As we begin another year our county, state and nation are facing many challenges that will require diligent work on behalf of all elected officials. I pledge to each of you that I will continue to do my homework and seek out the facts in order to perform my duties as a county commissioners to the best of my ability through the end of my term.
In closing, let me thank each of you for your advice, guidance, counseling and encouragement during the past 11 years. Without your unwavering support our many accomplishments would not have been possible. I ask you for your continued support to help make year 12 successful.
John Douglas' Press Release:
With the announcement that Commissioner Mort Ewing will not seek reelection to the Newton County Commission in 2012, I am pleased to announce my candidacy as a Republican for the 1st District seat. Commissioner Ewing has been a huge part of the modernization and successes in Newton County and will be sorely missed in local government. Susan, Katherine and I wish him the very best and pray for the return of good health for his wife Faye.
With the connections and background I will bring to the commission, my election will provide for the uninterrupted representation for the 1st District. There will be no let up of the hard work and outstanding representation Mort Ewing has provided. There will be no on the job training needed for me beginning the day after the election. My years in the House of Representatives and Senate as well as the Newton County School Board puts me in a position to call on virtually any state or county leader . That experience will allow me to hit the ground running on day one to represent District 1 as it should be represented.
Among the key issues facing the 1st district and Newton County are the following:
1. Higher taxes have never brought prosperity. I have never voted for any tax increase and will continue that record of fiscal responsibility on the commission. I am particularly opposed to any property tax increase.
2. I support the County Manager form of government. With Newton County now hosting a population of 100,000, the county manager is the most efficient, productive form of government.
3. I strongly support the land use plan for Newton County that keeps most of the 1st district in its current state. I also strongly support the current two acre minimum lot size for the east side of Newton County. When growth does return to our county, it must be managed in a way to ensure there is no negative impact on our quality of life.
Few candidates can bring the level of government experience and rock solid conservative philosophy that I will have as a county commissioner. The following is a synopsis of the experience I have:
1977-1994, Career Army Officer.
1998-2002, Newton County School Board District 3; Chairman for calendar year 2002
2003-2005, Georgia House of Representatives District 73, the first Republican from Newton County ever elected to the Georgia House.
2005-2011, Georgia Senate District 17, the first Republican from Newton County ever elected to the Georgia Senate. Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans, Military and Homeland Security for 6 years, member of key committees such as transportation, appropriations (budget), education, ethics, public safety and higher education.
I am a native Georgian born in Albany, graduated from high school in DeKalb County, undergraduate degree in Political Science from North GA College and State University 1976, Master of American Studies from Mercer University, 1987, 3.9 GPA. My military education includes numerous schools culminating with the US Army Command and General Staff College, Ft Leavenworth, Kansas.
In August 2012, the former Susan Stonecypher and I will celebrate 25 years of marriage. We have one daughter, Katherine, 20, who is a student at the Newton campus of Georgia Perimeter College and works full time. We attend Mt Pleasant United Methodist Church near the Hub junction.
Working together, we can keep Newton County the crown jewel of the east metro. The quality of life we have here is the result of hard work on the part of our county employees and those who live here. I will work every day to ensure the residents of the 1st District have access to me as well as others in county government and that we are all responsive to their needs and concerns. I have taken great pride in being accessible and taking a hands on approach while in the other elected offices and I will bring that same work ethic to the commission.
I encourage citizens to call me with their comments and concerns, 404-375-1234, email, email@example.com or facebook, John Douglas. I will never forget that they are who I represent and owe my successes to.
District 1 County Commissioner Mort Ewing will not run for reelection in 2012.
"Please allow me this opportunity to advise you that I will not seek re-election as District One Commissioner for the Newton County Board of Commissioners," Ewing said in a letter he gave to fellow commissioners after Tuesday's board meeting. He also mailed the letter out to constituents Tuesday.
"On Dec. 31, 2012 I will complete my 12th year as a district commissioner. I have made every effort to be a team player and to make decisions that were in the best interest of Newton County. My personal goal has always been to represent the citizens of Newton County in good faith as an honest public servant."
Ewing, 73, declined to offer further comment Thursday other than to say it was time to move into a new role. In addition to his role as commissioner, Ewing is an insurance salesman with Jones, Ewing, Dobbs and Tamplin.
Ewing was born in Newton County and during his life served in the U.S. Air Force, as vice president of the American Farm Bureau Association and as president of the Georgia branch of the Future Farmers Association, among other roles.
He will remain in office for the remainder of 2012, but officials took time Thursday to thank him for his service.
County Attorney Tommy Craig said he has worked with Mort Ewing on a regular basis since 1976 and feels a sense of loss with Ewing's retirement.
"In my observation, Mort Ewing has always been a person of principle; a man of the highest character and integrity. He thinks logically and clearly, and he always tells the truth as he knows it. Consequently, whenever he speaks he commands great respect. And it goes without saying that Mort is a strong leader," Craig said in an email Thursday.
"Mort Ewing is undoubtedly the most organized and efficient person I know. In addition, he has always had tremendous drive; he works from daybreak to dark. In my judgment, his love of Newton County, his intelligence, leadership ability, efficiency and work ethic account for the positive and lasting effect his public service has had on Newton County.
"Finally, when loyalty and backbone are in short supply, Mort Ewing's friends can always count on him to be loyal and unwavering."
Commissioner Tim Fleming, a fellow Republican, said Ewing has been a great mentor.
"Mort Ewing has been a great mentor to me when I first got elected, and worked with me on a lot of stuff, just like he would with any other new commissioner. I could go to Mort and he would point me in the right direction," Fleming said.
"One thing about Mort, he was a man of his word. I could always depend and trust Mort... There are not many people I would want in a foxhole with me, but Mort is one of them."
Chairman Kathy Morgan and Commissioner Nancy Schulz both said they know the decision was a difficult one for Ewing.
"He is so committed to this county and his roots run deep," Morgan said in an email. "I commend him for placing his family first, and he has served this county for three terms. If you know Mort, you understand "Mrs. Faye" and his family is the most important thing to him. Knowing Mort as long as I have, I know this decision was not made hastily but well thought out and I wish the entire Ewing family long life and a future filled with joy."
"I'm sure he did not make this decision lightly, and took a lot of time and thought as he does with everything," Schulz said. "I know this year has been very difficult because of his wife's health... He served for 12 years, a long time, and I think we can all be very appreciative of his service to the county."
Douglas to run for seat
Former state Sen. John Douglas announced that he would be running for the vacated District 1 seat on his Facebook page Wednesday night. Douglas has also previously served on the Newton County Board of Education and said he had been looking to get back into local politics.
"I knew Mort was considering not running, and I saw this as an opportunity to continue to serve Newton County and to build on a lot of the initiatives he has championed," Douglas said Thursday morning from Tennessee. He was traveling back from Iowa, where he had been working phones for Newt Gingrich's campaign.
Since a failed bid for an elected seat on the Georgia Public Service in 2010, Douglas said he has been staying involved in local politics, guest lecturing once a semester at Georgia Perimeter College and, as of Dec. 27, working on Gingrich's presidential campaign.
He will be running two campaigns simultaneously, as he will head up Gingrich's campaign efforts in Georgia's 10th congressional district.
Douglas said he will run on a platform of no tax increases, continued support of a county manager system and continued protection of the semi-rural state of the eastern part of Newton County, including the current two-acre minimum lot size requirement.
"It's been many years since I was in a local government position," Douglas said. "It will be good to come back home and work for the people in Newton County for a change...and work on quality of life for the county as a whole."
Douglas is a retired 18-year army officer. He was first elected to the Newton County Board of Education in 1998, the Georgia House of Representatives in 2002 and the Georgia Senate in 2004.
He and his wife, Susan, have been married for 25 years and have one daughter, Katherine, 20. The family attends Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church. Douglas can be reached at (404) 375-1234, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook.