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Oden announces 2016 re-election bid
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The party primaries are more than a year away, but campaigning for 2016 began Thursday night. 

Rockdale County Chairman and CEO Richard Oden, a Democrat, officially announced his intention to seek re-election for the county chair seat in the 2016 election year. 

Speaking to a group of about 35 supporters Oden spoke about things he accomplished in his six years as chair and things he wanted to bring to fruition with another four years of service.

He talked about increasing capacity of wastewater for Rockdale citizens and moving more people off septic tanks. He told the crowd that five years ago, the county bought about 175,000 gallons of wasterwater capacity from DeKalb County with hopes of growing the community.

“Their price keeps going up. We’re almost in shape to where we can bring that in house,” said Oden. “(I’m going to) need another 18 million dollars to build another waste treatment plant to increase capacity.”

The crowd seemed intrigued when Oden began talking about a plan to build a performance arts center and other venues that would be used to attract more tourism to county right off interstate-20 near Sigman Road. 

“What is there to grab (motorists) to stop in our community? We have nothing,” said Oden. “So we envision a performance art center. That’s what we envision. We’re hoping that it will seat at least 3,400 people.”

Within the same area of this proposed performance arts center, Oden proposed also having a trade center, 4-star hotel, a conference center for medical professionals and a live-work-play area with affordable housing and shopping centers. 

“We’re going to hopefully make this dream a reality. That’s were headed folks,” he said. “What’s wrong with that vision? Go ask Woodstock. They’re doing it. Go ask Kennesaw. Go ask Sandy Springs. Why not Rockdale?”

Oden didn’t give any timetable on how soon this venue complex could become a reality.

Before ending his speech, Oden attempted to rally his crowd to go out and spread his message.

“I need your help folks. I need boots on the ground. My goal, our goal, is $250,000. That’s not a lot of money,” he said. “There are some people vying to unseat me, for whatever reason. So we’re going to beat them on the ground.”

The meet-and-greet took place at Abbott Conference Hall, 1955 Sigman Road, Conyers, and ended around 8 p.m. after lasting for about an hour. 

Oden was first elected to the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners as chairman in 2008. He won re-election as chairman in 2012.