From left to right: Ed Conway, Brian Jenkins, Jason Hill, Oz Nesbitt and Tom Harrison listen to the moderator during Tuesday's fourm for 2012 county candidates hosted by the South Rockdale Civic Association. The event is the first candidate forum for the 2012 elections. The men gave their points on public safety, business development and leadership. Conway and Hill, both Republicans, and Jenkins, a Democrat, are running for county commission chairman. Nesbitt is seeking re-election on the Board of Commissioners Post 1 seat. Harrison is running for the BOC Post 1 seat in the Republican primary.
CONYERS -- Candidates in Tuesday night's forum at the South Rockdale Civic Association stayed close to their messages concerning public safety, business development and other topics.
The forum was the first for those announced campaigns for local office in the 2012 elections -- nine months before the primary elections. It was also a mix of Democratic and Republican candidates. Incumbent County Chairman Richard Oden and two other Democrats running for the Board of Commissioners Post 1 seat did not attend the event.
Those attending were Brian Jenkins, Ed Conway, Jason Hill, incumbent Commissioner Oz Nesbitt and Tom Harrison.
The candidates were given a chance to give their positions on one overall topic, then move on to topics of their own choosing. Moderator Ed Tracey gave out public safety as the first topic, which everyone agreed was important.
Jenkins, Democratic candidate for county chairman, gave his full support to Sheriff Jeff Wigington, a Republican, and said law enforcement does a good job but the county has to work at "a feeling of safety" to prosper.
Hill, a Republican running for county chairman, echoed Jenkins comments and hit a chord when he said that his family business, Still Lumber Company, was burglarized last week for the first time since opening its doors 60 years ago.
"It's a feeling of safety in every neighborhood you're in, every business that you're in, we need you to feel safe," he said. "That is what builds community; it's looking past statistics and numbers, salaries, it's whatever it takes to make people feel safe in Rockdale County."
Conway, a Republican running for chairman, said he would work on building the community by being a listener and said management style will be a deciding factor in the election.
"The challenge has to be agreed on and everyone will have to pull together from the county departments to the county commission and the voters," he said.
Harrison, a Republican running for the BOC Post 1 seat said on management style that less politics needed was needed. He pledged not to hash out disagreements in the media, as he alluded to past battles between Wigington and Oden.
"One thing we've had too much of and one thing we've not had enough of in the last three years (is) that we've had too much politics and have not had enough community," Harrison said. "There is a way to get both of those corrected, and I think with the proper direction and proper guidance and proper leadership that can be obtained."