Local candidates in contested races share their platforms

  • From left to right, top row, are Alan Hill, Dennis Dowell, Brenda Jordan and Lonnie Robinson. Bottom row includes Mike Cleveland, left, and Tracy Mize.
    From left to right, top row, are Alan Hill, Dennis Dowell, Brenda Jordan and Lonnie Robinson. Bottom row includes Mike Cleveland, left, and Tracy Mize.
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HART COUNTY SHERIFF

Name: Tracy Mize 

Occupation: Self employed 

Family: I am married to Candice Morrison Mize and they have four daughters Emily Thompson (Chip Thompson), Mackenzie Alexander, Annaleigh Alexander and Callie Alexander and one grandson Elias Thompson 

Why are you running for office? I am a lifelong resident of the county. I have a passion for law enforcement.

I do my job well and go above and beyond and will expect my staff to do the same.

What do you hope to accomplish should you be elected? If elected, I will have an open-door policy, being available to answer your questions and concerns.  I will work to make our roadways safer with the ultimate goal of reducing traffic fatalities. I will work hard to set up more options to help domestic violence victims. If elected, I will work to improve the infrastructure of the entire sheriff’s office, bringing more technology to the deputies to better assist them and improve their safety, making sure all vehicles are up-to-date, even stocking up on pandemic response items. And finally, I will work with our youth to help them become productive citizens through school programs such as CHAMPS, Junior Deputies and the Explorers.  

What is the most pressing issue facing Hart County right now? Traffic fatalities, domestic violence and illicit drugs.

 

Name: Mike Cleveland

Occupation: Sheriff Of Hart County

Family: I have been married to Coni Jo Nixon Cleveland for 44 years and have one daughter Madison, a son in law, Bo, and granddaughter Natalie Jo Morris.

Why are you running for office? I am seeking reelection to continue my passion to serve the citizens of Hart County. I am proud to be part of an assembled staff that I consider to be one of the best agencies in Northeast Georgia. It takes dedicated detention officers, secretaries, investigators, deputies and dispatchers to accomplish this and I do believe we do have the best.

What do you hope to accomplish should you be elected? We updated and installed digital radios and towers for law enforcement dispatch and vehicles. Last year, we implemented and installed the 911 CAD (computer aid dispatch) system for the sheriff’s office dispatchers to use while logging  and recording calls. Recently, we partnered with District Attorney Parks White and installed the new video teleconference which is a courtroom video that enables the judge to perform court hearings with inmates that are incarcerated in county and state facilities. This has already proved to save time and money in place of transporting inmates. We look forward to utilizing new technology, tools and skills as they continue to evolve in law enforcement.

What is the most pressing issue facing the Hart County right now? Like most counties in North Georgia, we seem to be facing similar issues including the war on drugs and now we are seeing more gang related activity. We have placed the CHAMPS program in the county schools to educate our children on drugs, gangs and bullying.  We also have one of the best drug investigators in this area who has a passion for taking drugs off the street.  Due to the recent gang activity, we sent officers to a prestigious gang activity seminar that returned with many useful tools and information for our whole department. We are looking forward to more training from the GBI in the weeks and months ahead.

 

BOARD OF 

EDUCATION 

DISTRICT 5

Name: Dennis Dowell

Occupation: Retired

Family: Married to Mary Ann Morris Dowell for 43 years. We have two children, Amy and Ryan, and eight grandchildren, three of whom attend Hart County Schools.

Why are you running for office? I am running for re-election because I want to continue to be a voice for our students and staff. 

Over the nearly four years, I believe that I, along with the other board members, have made a positive difference. I want to listen to the concerns of parents, teachers and students, and I have tried to do that. 

I believe that good schools begin with communicating with membners of the community and teachers. 

I have seen great changes in our schools and I would like to see that they stay in that direction. I want to stay focused on the education and safety of our students. There is no greater responsibility than to be trusted with our childlren’s education. If re-elected I will continue to work to uphold that trust. 

I would like to say that I am very sorry I have not been able to visit with people in person during this campaign, but with the COVID-19 restrictions, that has not been possible. 

What do you hope to accomplish should you be elected? My goal if re-elected is to be an active and productive member of the board. I want to make sure our teachers have the necessary resources that they need to do their jobs. I want the curriculum to meet the needs of students, whether they will be pursuing a vocational degree or a college degree. 

I want a safe and nurturing environment for our children. 

I want to keep the school taxes as low as possible while still ensuring that our teachers and students have the best resources that we can provide. 

I will take the time to study all issues brought before the board and try to make the best possible decision for all. 

What is the most pressing issue facing Hart County Schools right now? One of the most pressing issues is funding. Georgia had a billion-dollar loss in April and it will have a large impact on the education budget moving forward. Also, we will have to figure out a way to return to school and keep the students and staff safe if the COVID-19 continues into the fall. 

 

Name: Alan Hill: I’m a lifelong resident of Hart County and graduate of Hart County. 

Why are you running for office? I’m running to bring a new vision to the board of education by being a voice of reason for students, teachers and parents that will voice their concerns at board meetings. 

What do you hope to accomplish should you be elected? We need a team effort between the board, superintendent, administrators, teachers and staff. I believe that every school should be on the same page by implementing a strategy for the whole school system. The better we work together, the more effective we can be to our students, teachers and taxpayers.

We need to make sure we have a balanced budget so we don’t have to raise to the millage rate. I will watch our finances to make sure we don’t raise taxes.

What is the most pressing issue facing the school system right now? The most pressing issue facing the school system is the current COVID-19 pandemic. With schools being closed and students having to do remote learning from home.The one-size-fits-all approach of remote learning isn’t the best approach because students learn differently. Some learn better doing work on a computer.Then you have students that have to have hands-on learning in a classroom setting. The students that have to have hands-on learning is more likely to not retain what they have learned in the last couple of weeks of remote learning and that puts them behind going into next year. Technology is a good thing to have during this time of having to do work at home, but it’s best to stick with basics of textbooks in school because many students don’t have good internet access, or even none at all. Parents have jobs to work, so they may not have time to take them to their nearest parked school bus with WiFi to do to their school work online. The only alternative to that is work packets, but how are students going to know how to do the work packet if they haven’t been with teachers or without having a textbook to show them how to do it.

 

BOARD OF 

EDUCATION 

DISTRICT 1

Name: Lonnie Robinson

Occupation:  Gas Utility Director 

Family: I am married to Janie Robinson with five children, Lonnie II, Darnell, Lonnie Jr, Mariah and Elijah. The son of the late Major James Robinson (native of Hart County) and the late Fannie Lockett Robinson.

Why are you running for office? I am running for office to be able to secure that all children get the opportunity to be educated. I want to offer my few talents while collaborating with other board members to enhance our children’s education opportunity while supporting our Administrators and Educators. With children as the ultimate focus, I want to work together to accomplish the board’s goals.

What do you hope to accomplish should you be elected? If re-elected to the Hart County Board of Education, I plan to help create a stronger tie between the school board and community by accomplishing three goals. The first goal is to prepare all students to meet the world’s challenges. The second goal is promote a positive and safe atmosphere for all students and Educators. And lastly, develop a stronger partnership between students, parents and the community. 

What is the most pressing issue facing Hart County Schools right now? I believe the most pressing issue that Hart County is facing is our budget. We are faced with the COVID-19, social distancing and revenues at the state level being cut, leaving our board to make some tough and realistic cuts to programs, personnel and facilities.

 

Name: Brenda J. Jordan

Occupation: Retired Teacher with 31 years of experience. I taught family and consumer sciences (home economics) 23 years, spent six years as assistant principal for Curriculum and Instruction and two years career and technology director.

Family: My parents were Mr. Walter and Mrs. Ina Byrum Jordan. I have a brother, Ray T. Jordan and a sister Peggy Teel who live in Hart County. I was predeceased by a brother Max G. Jordan and a sister Mattie Ann Jordan. I have numerous nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews who attend the Hart County School System.

Why are you running for office? I am running for school board because I believe very strongly that all students, all teachers, all staff and all taxpayers should be treated fair, equal and consistent in all matters and decisions. District 1 needs someone to listen to them and act upon issues through the Board of Education. Many issues have been left at the doorstep and not listened too. Openness and fairness are the best policy for everyone.

What do you hope to accomplish should you be elected? I want to represent my district and Hart County with all students, all teachers, all citizens and all taxpayers at the forefront when it comes to local taxes and the educational needs of all students and all teachers.

What is the most pressing issue facing Hart County Schools right now? Although, I will not take office until January, when the decision is made to open schools back up, the most important issue is the health and safety of all students, all teachers and all staff members during the Coronavirus-COVID19. This is a very intense and in-depth decision with the death rate in Georgia still climbing and more outbreaks occurring. And, a high possibility of a second outbreak in the fall. Hopefully, decision makers will not put our school population in a death situation.

Also, the school system budget is an issue. There are ways to come to a conscientious thought process without taking away from students, teachers and staff. This is not the time for teacher furloughs and/or reduction in force. There are many ways to trim a budget without taking drastic measures. Just because another school system in Georgia does it does not mean it is good for Hart County. Let us think and ask questions through the process with the superintendent of schools going over all the budgets federal funds, state funds, local tax funds and SPLOST, with a fine tooth comb, after all this is one thing board members are supposed
to do and I am sure some possibly do.