Tom Harrison may be a familiar sight in Rockdale from his involvement with many non-profits and his work as Santa Claus. But Harrison is aiming for something a little more serious in fall 2012 – the Post I Commission seat.
Harrison will be among the candidates to officially announce his bid on Saturday at the Rockdale Republican Party Constitutional Day event.
Harrison, a businessowner and 30-year resident of the county, said he had been considering a run for the Post I seat prior to the 2008 election but deferred when then incumbent commissioner Jason Hill decided to run for reelection.
“I think our county needs leaders who can put politics aside and make sensible decisions on behalf of all of our citizens,” Harrison said in a released statement. “You’ve got to be able to work with people of differing opinions in a thoughtful and respectful manner in order to forge partnerships that will serve the common good.”
“What I offer voters is a candidate who honors civility over hostility, community over partisan agendas, and common sense ideas over grandiose platitudes.”
His involvement in the community increased a few years ago as his work travel commitments for lessened around 2005.
“As my community experience and exposure grew, the thought crept into my head - I’m ready to run," Harrison said.
He recently completed four years on the Conyers-Rockdale Planning Commission, serving three as chairman. His time on the Planning Commission left him with a passion for economic development and bringing consistency and unification to city and county ordinances, particularly the sign ordinance and other laws affecting businesses.
"On the Planning Commission I saw where differences were. I felt it inhibited economic development in the county portions of it."
"You see what runs a county and you see the things that help a county grow. I credit my experiences with the planning commission as vital training," he said.
"In general the term fiscal responsibility comes into play. I think there’s been a lack of that in the budget process up to now. I think priorities have gotten skewed. It needs to be looked at in a much more business manner than it has in the past. I feel there are things that if they were done I a true business situation, the business has gone out of business."
Another priority, if he were elected, would be to look at the possibility of bringing a county manager structure to the commission and reducing the salaries of the comissioners.
Harrison also said in a released statement, he would "work hard to ensure that Rockdale retains its unique identity and reflects the standards set by citizens of this community, not neighboring jurisdictions."
His volunteer involvements also include campaign chair and co-chair for the Rockdale United Way, past president of the Rockdale Rotary Club, a Leadership Rockdale representative on the Rockdale Coalition of Homeowners and Civic Associations, and advisory board for the Mercy Heart Clinic and the New Depot Players. He currently serves on an advisory council for the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District.
He and his wife Lorraine own About Conyers Magazine and have four children and four grandchildren between them. Harrison worked in the water, sewage and irrigation industry as a manufacturers representative and opened his own agency, Tom Harrison & Associates, Inc., in 1990. He moved to Conyers in 1978 on property his father had purchased in 1952.
Although this is his first time running for elected office, local politics is nothing new to Harrison. His father was DeKalb County Commissioner and Chairman Clark Harrison, his grandfather and uncle were Superior Court judges, and his cousin was a probate judge in DeKalb County.