After 16 intense years in state and county politics, during which Vernon Jones oversaw the growth and development of DeKalb County as its CEO but was also a magnet for controversy, Jones says he's turned over a new leaf.
The catalyst for the change? His time out of the spotlight since 2009.
"When you have time to think and quiet time where you can truly reflect, you can see things about yourself that you couldn't see before because you were moving so fast," said Jones.
He compared it to catching squirrels in squirrel hunting. "He can see everything when he's standing still. But when he's moving everything is moving. When that squirrel moves, you move. As long as you can get in position, you can get him."
Jones declared earlier this month he would run for the fourth congressional district seat currently held by Congressman Hank Johnson.
When asked if Johnson's health played a factor in Jones' deciding to run, Jones said carefully "My prayers are with Commissioner Johnson, and I consider him a friend," and added, "I don't expect Commissioner Johnson to lay down. I know him and I think he's a good man and I think he means well."
Jones said he would have been able to offer more influence than Johnson did in his freshman term. "I would have gone to Washington a little more seasoned. Many times freshmen come in it you just do what the leadership tells you. I would have been much more involved in the formulation of the legislation."
On the health care bills in Washington, Jones said he had concerns about the bill and would like to see issues such as abortion and immigration, taken out of the bill.
"I think we all support health care reform. Two key components is to make sure health care is affordable and accessible.
I think when you look at that bill, what it's going to cost Georgia to pay for it, to the tune of $500 million, because states have to come up with their local dollars, now where are those dollars going to come from?"
Jones said the focus of his campaign was job creation and small businesses.
"When you look at the stimulus package, I would have been more thoughtful of the small businesses than big businesses, because I know that's where most of the job creation is. Wall Street was bailed out, and the banks did not make the credit available for small businesses and they're closing up each and every day."
Although the majority of the district's votes are in DeKalb, Jones said he knew Rockdale was key to the race.
"There's no difference between Rockdale and DeKalb," said Jones. "People want safe neighborhoods, they want quality of life, they want jobs, they want small business to flourish. We in our minds separated each other because one happened to be in one county, one happened to be in the other county."
"If I lock down Rockdale, it's going to be a different day," he said.
Other candidates that have declared their intention to run for the Democratic ticket include DeKalb County Commissioners Lee May and Connie Stokes. Liz Carter, a buisiness consultant, and retired naval officer Larry Gause have declared their run for the Republican ticket.
For m go to www.rockdalenews.com