Former Post I Commissioner Jason Hill will make a bid for the Board of Commissioners in 2012, but this time he'll be running for Chairman.
Hill is slated to make his official announcement for the Republican ticket at the Rockdale GOP's Constitution Day celebration on Saturday.
Hill, who works at his family's business, Still Lumber, and is a husband and father of two young children, had been relatively absent from the public sphere after losing his 2008 reelection bid to current Post I Commissioner Oz Nesbitt. Hill, who recently turned 40, said the decision was a three-year process but he was motivated to jump back in the fray after seeing the performance of the current administration.
"At the end of the day, I think I join a lot of my fellow citizens where I'm not real pleased with the leadership we've gotten," Hill told the News earlier this week. "Last time around we needed experience more than any time in the past, and we got inexperience and I think it's shown."
Hill said he would bring not only experience and a proven track record, but could bridge divisions in the county.
"At this point this community needs someone that can transcend what's tearing our community apart. Whether it's political differences, whether it's the color of your skin. Whether you've been here a year or you've been here your whole life... there are a lot more things alike about us than different."
"We're never going to move forward unless we can come together and communicate," Hill said.
He said he wanted to run for Chairman instead of a part time commissioner because he felt he could make a bigger difference. He also said had he won reelection as part-time Post I Commissioner in 2008, he might have still looked at the Chairman seat in 2012.
One of his goals, if he were elected, would be to move towards a county manager style of government - a form he said has been seen in successful local governments.
"Until you have a chairman that's ready to give up that amount of power, you're never going to get it," Hill said. "Frankly that's what I'm ready to do." He said he also felt the salaries of the part time commissioners and chairman should be reduced.
Economic development would also be a priority on his agenda, he said, including transportation projects that would open up a perimeter around the commercial districts of Rockdale.
He also felt the county should move away from using SPLOST funds for road maintenance, reserving it for construction.
Another main priority would be working with the sheriff and public safety officials to make sure those departments have the resources needed to keep the community safe, he said.
"We're going to put together an efficient government that really nails down those things," he said. He added that although his passion when he was previously on the Board of Commissioners was beautification and parks and recreation, "We're going to have to really focus on the basic needs that we have and really take a look at our government and make sure we're as lean and mean as efficient as we can be."
He said he realized from his previous time as commissioner that he had weaknesses he needed to work on. "I always said I thought I was a great commissioner but not the best politician," he said.
"You need to listen more, to be quite honest. Everybody's voice in Rockdale County is important. Although I did a good job in listening before, I think some people may have thought I could do a little bit better. I promise to do better. I don't think that's necessarily going on right now," said Hill.
If he's elected commission Chairman, he said, "I'm going to have an open door policy and we're going to encourage people to think for themselves. If you hire good people, you expect them to be able to do the job. Go out there and make more with less and get it done and take pride in the community."
As a Republican, Hill would face two other candidates who had previously declared their interest in running for county CEO on the Republican ticket: Ed Conway and Brad Smith. For the Democratic ticket, resident Brian Jenkins declared his intention to run for county CEO and current CEO/Chairman Richard Oden announced he would be running for reelection.
Hill said, "I know I'm going to be in the race. If I felt like either one of the candidates could do a better job than I could, I wouldn't be in the race." He said he's gotten a good reception so far when he's discussed running for CEO.
He said he would work even harder for this campaign than the last time he ran. "Nobody's going to work harder this time around than I will. If I have to get out there and shake every hand or call every house, that's what I'll do."
"I don't want to go 50 percent of the votes plus one. I want to go for everybody. I think if I get my message out there and show people the experience I have and show them my record, I think they'll believe it."
To contact Hill for more information, call 770-483-8022 or email email@example.com.