I can’t remember exactly when I met George, but I can tell you why I did.
When I first took over the old blog, the main criteria for front page contributors were people who had a unique point of view – preferably far from mainstream talking points – that could articulate and defend strong positions. George has just led – and then left – one of the original Occupy Atlanta protests. I had been following him on social media, and his frustration with folks that wanted to protest for the sake of protesting rather than to use the moment to be constructive appealed to me.
I learned that he had been a reporter for the AJC. I learned that when he left that position he got an MBA. I remember thinking “Wait. There’s a guy that has an MBA – clearly someone that understands capitalism – was an Occupy Atlanta leader? THIS is someone I need to meet. I need to know what he’s thinking.”
Shortly after we added George to the other site, I got word that George had received a restraining order after George attempted to ask former Republican DeKalb Commission candidate some questions at a forum. I still barely knew him, and will admit I was concerned that maybe George got out of line. Regardless, I attended the hearing on the order in DeKalb court with George. I witnessed a judge literally rolling her eyes as his critic and two friends – three well known local Republicans – played for the court a video of them surrounding George screaming “You’re just an angry Muslim, ain’t you?” at George. They claimed that somehow showed George was attacking them. George, on video, somehow kept his cool, calmly stating “I’m a reporter sir, you’re a candidate. I’m just trying to get facts”*
That was several years ago. I still won’t claim to know what George is usually thinking. But I generally understand what George wants. He wants his community, his city, and his region to be a better place. He wants people and institutions to be accountable. He wants to fix problems rather than whine about them or use them as a perpetual ax to grind. He’s much more interested in the solution than the ideological path it takes to get there. He’s been attacked by both right and left, because he’s willing to challenge the status quo. Anyone’s status quo.
He’s a guy with strong ideological beliefs – many very different from mine – but he’s willing to talk to anyone to figure out where there is common ground. If there is overlap in a Venn Diagram between his beliefs and yours, he’ll find it, and he’ll start the solution there.
George is on the ballot with 9 people, 8 of whom are actively campaigning for an open Commission seat in DeKalb County. It’s no secret that DeKalb has had its share of problems. There have been bad actors from across the political spectrum. DeKalb needs a wholesale cleanup. That’s important if you live anywhere in Georgia. DeKalb’s issues affect the whole Atlanta region. Negatives from the capital region trickle down to the tax base and the economy of the entire state.
Let’s be clear. I’m a Republican. George isn’t. He’s not going to govern like a Republican. That’s OK. He will govern as someone that understands the fiduciary responsibilities and level of trust that comes with his office. He’s done that for years in Pine Lake as a city councilman. A relatively thankless job in a town with little budget. His neighbors know they can depend on him. Hopefully the 200,000 or so neighbors in his possible commission district will know this too.
George hasn’t posted here much lately, as he didn’t want to abuse the platform we have here as a campaign tool. But, I’m the publisher, and I can tout him freely. If you’ve appreciated George’s writing, and want someone in DeKalb that will work towards finding common sense solutions that make the county a better place, 1) vote for him if you can, or 2) Donate some money here.
I won’t try to promise you George will govern as a “conservative”. I will say that based on my history with George, DeKalb will be much better off with him as a Commissioner than without.
*above quotes from video are paraphrased from my memory of that day in court, as I do not have possession of said tape.