For developer Courtney Dillard, his bid for the Democratic nomination for the Post 2 County Commission seat, currently held by Commissioner JaNice Van Ness, is part of his renewed focus on the local community.
Dillard has been a resident of the county for 18 years, with his wife Gayla Dillard, a surgeon at Rockdale Medical Center, and his five children, but said he took a "sabbatical" from focusing on the local area for about 10 years.
"As you get older, you start thinking about how many ways you can really affect your surroundings," said Dillard, who grew up in Kansas.
The 47-year-old experienced a change in outlook and career path around 2006. He began attending Luther Rice Seminary, and opened a ministry called the Prayer Room Organization. He and his family have attended New Birth Missionary Baptist Church for about four years.
He said he was somewhat involved in the political process through campaign events and fundraising for other candidates. "But this is the first time I’ve put my name into actually running for political office," said Dillard. "When I found out this particular opportunity was open, I said maybe its time to do something."
He said his goal, as commissioner, would be on bringing the discussion and focus back to the family.
"I think it's time people start to focus on the problems of families in the society and the things county government can do to produce better society. Whether it’s developing better looking and more functional parks and recreation areas, or doing stuff like creating better roads."
"I’m talking about creating a better place to live work and play. Once intelligent people are inside of the commissioners’ panel, and places like City Council and the Mayor's office, they start to bring about different questions and different answers."
Another focus would be on economic development.
"There has not been a push to bringing in new business and new jobs," said Dillard. "What piqued my interest was in 2006, 2007, I had begun to look at what I could do to help the city of Conyers. The first thing I noticed was the economic development department had just come into existence."
"Every city has that concern, and economic development businesses talk about bringing in large industry, large big box corporations. But there's a host of new ways to look at economic development… We can't expect to have the same type of employers you had X years ago."
"We have to start thinking about long range planning," said Dillard, at the Rockdale Democratic Party’s candidates forum. He pointed out Rockdale County’s master plan had not been updated since 8 years ago.
He also described serving on the board of the Rockdale House for Men and Rockdale House for Women. He said he came in as a consultant at a time when some of their state funding was in question and was able to negotiate to secure the funding and "get them back on track."
At the Rockdale Democratic Party’s candidates forum, when asked how he viewed the Post 2 Commission seat, he said, "The Post 2 position is about policy."
"I understand the job at hand. It is to support our CEO and Chairman, Richard Oden. Like it or not. I will support him, I will stand with him, and I will continue to move the county forward. We can’t afford the divisions anymore."
He is competing against Caycie Dix for the Democratic nomination at the July 20 primary. Incumbent JaNice Van Ness is running unchallenged for the Republican ticket for Post 2 Commissioner.
(See next week for a profile of Post 2 candidate Caycie Dix.)