Few people likely realize there is an election Tuesday, but it’s an important one for Newton County.
The General Assembly will convene Monday in Atlanta without a representative for Senate District 17. That means half of Newton County, at least geographically, will not have a voice in the Senate.
That’s because Sen. Rick Jeffares, R-McDonough, resigned Dec. 1 to focus on his run for lieutenant governor. We can debate later the epidemic of Georgia politicians quitting the jobs we elected them to do and instead focusing on their loftier ambitions, but now we must get this seat filled.
Early voting numbers have been abysmal in Newton and Rockdale counties, and not a lot better in Henry County, where a majority of the district’s population lives.
Republicans running for the Senate seat include McDonough business owner Nelva Lee; former state Rep. Brian Strickland, a McDonough attorney; and retired civil engineer Ed Toney, of Hampton.
The lone Democratic candidate is Conyers pastor Phyllis Hatcher.
Strickland served in the House until the same time Jeffares resigned, because he’d already planned to run for the Senate seat when Jeffares’ term expired. He earned distinction in the House and served on important committees even though he was just elected a little more than five years ago.
He was a member of the powerful Appropriations Committee, was chairman of the Industry and Labor Committee and, of particular importance to Newton County, served on the Economic Development and Tourism Committee. That’s crucial for our film industry, and in fact he worked on a state film commission.
Strickland also has been the only candidate to give Newton County significant time during this very brief campaign. He has the endorsement of state Rep. Dave Belton, R-Buckhead, and working together they be a formidable team to help our area.
In fact, they already have been. Belton and Rep. Pam Dickerson, D-Conyers, pushed for Kelsey’s Law, the 2015 act to punish cyberbullying against minor victims.
It was named in honor of Newton County teenager Kelsey Upton and it protects young people from having their personal information from being put on adult websites.
The bill just made sense and sailed through the House but, as so often happens at the Gold Dome, got tangled up in last-minute machinations until Strickland put his political capital on the line and attached Kelsey’s Law onto a bill of his own, getting passage for both with three minutes to spare before the legislature adjourned sine die.
That’s the kind of leadership we need for us in Atlanta. We urge you to shake off the fog that will come from staying up late Monday to watch the national championship game and go vote if you live in District 17. And, we encourage a vote for Strickland.
Our Thoughts is the opinion of The Covington News’ editorial board, which includes Editor and Publisher David Clemons and Managing Editor Jackie Gutknecht.