Crawford commissioners face opposition

wcrenshaw@macon.comOctober 22, 2012 

  • Crawford County commission races

    District 2

    Bobby Blasingame

    Age: 61
    Party: Democrat
    Occupation: Poultry farmer
    Political experience: Incumbent, elected in 2008

    Chuck Evans
    Age: 57
    Party: Republican
    Occupation: Farmer, retired firefighter
    Political experience: None

    District 4

    Gene Hamlin

    Age: 79
    Party: Democrat
    Occupation: Retired from Robins Air Force Base
    Political experience: Incumbent, elected in 2008

    John Thomas
    Age: 67
    Party: Republican
    Occupation: Industrial electrician
    Political experience: None

Two incumbent Democrats on the Crawford County Board of Commissioners are facing Republican opposition in the Nov. 6 election.

In District 2, one-term incumbent Bobby Blasingame is facing off against Chuck Evans, who is making his first run at political office. Two-term District 4 incumbent Gene Hamlin is opposed by political newcomer John Thomas.

District 2

Blasingame, a poultry farmer, won his seat in 2008. In the July Democratic primary, he defeated former commission chairman Harold “Doug” Spillers.

At that time Blasingame said improving roads was his focus, but in the same election voters defeated a regional sales tax that would have funded road projects. Blasingame, however, said the county can improve roads without the tax.

“It would be my top priority to get some road paving done,” he said. “We are still making some progress on some, but we are not moving as fast as I like to see it.”

He said he would also like to work with the Development Authority to try to bring industry into the county.

“We would like to do that and continue to look to focus on what counts, and that is the people, and to try to do what we can do to meet their needs,” he said.

He cited improvements in water, fire service and recreation as accomplishments during his term.

Evans operates a brush mowing business and is retired after 30 years as a firefighter in College Park. He first became familiar with Crawford County through hunting, then decided to move there eight years ago following his retirement.

“We wanted to get away from all those people up there in the rat race,” he said.

He said he decided to run for the board after being encouraged by his neighbors, and he doesn’t see his short time in the county as a handicap.

“I don’t know everybody and am not affiliated with anybody, so I don’t have anybody to answer to as far as favors,” he said.

One thing he would like to look at, he said, is the tax values on land. He said he believes many are out of line with current market values. He also said improving roads would be a priority.

“Our road systems need a maintenance program,” he said. “Everybody I talk to, if they live on a dirt road, are complaining. We don’t have continual maintenance on these dirt roads. They get in terrible shape.”

District 4

Hamlin was first elected in 2000, then in 2004 lost his bid for re-election. In 2008 he won the seat back. In the Republican primary in July, Thomas defeated former commissioner Fred Walker. Hamlin was unopposed.

Hamlin is retired from Robins Air Force Base, where he worked 32 years as a civilian commissary officer. He said that during his past term, the county has gotten out of debt, kept taxes the same and improved roads.

“We’ve paved roads, re-surfaced roads, striped roads and widened dirt roads more than any board has before,” he said.

He also said the county has improved recreation facilities and the fire department.

“If I am re-elected, I will continue to work with the other commissioners to make Crawford County a better place to live and raise children,” he said.

Thomas is an industrial electrician and operates PT&E Enterprises. He has also operated other businesses, including a motel and restaurant, and has been involved with the Roberta-Crawford County Chamber of Commerce.

“I hope my business knowledge will help to run the county like a business,” he said.

He said one of his priorities is to look into the possibility of starting an animal shelter. While he acknowledged it may be difficult to find the money for it, he said it’s a problem that needs to be addressed.

“Crawford County just has stray animals everywhere,” he said. “I’m an animal lover, and I just hate to see animals thrown out and left.”

He said he believes people often come from outside the county to drop animals.

He also said he would like to see an effort to clean up roadways, including planting trees and flowers. He also said he wants the county to do more to attract businesses.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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