County commissioner candidates head for Tuesday runoff
by Jason Lowrey
Aug 19, 2012 | 2868 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bartow County voters will choose between Mike Bearden and Steve Taylor on Tuesday, Aug 21, in the final vote for county commissioner. In the July 31 primary Bearden received 3,301 votes, which came to 22.76 percent of the total vote. Taylor received 5,436 votes which was 37.48 percent of the total vote. In the final days before the runoff, both candidates worked to gather those who voted for Mike Abernathy, Tracy Lewis and Tony Tidwell while drawing distinctions between each other.

Name: Mike Bearden

Occupation: Retired Civil Engineer

City of Residence: Unincorporated White

Age: 63


What do you want voters to know about you and your candidacy as you go into your final vote? 

A: I am the conservative. Here is the proof: I am a proud member of the Tea Party. My opponent said the Tea Party was a bunch of “lily white extremists.” I oppose the liberal labor unions. My opponent is endorsed by the AFL-CIO. I opposed the T-SPLOST. My opponent supported the T-SPLOST and said so in our first debate. I signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to not raise taxes. My opponent refuses to agree not to raise taxes. I support term limits for the commissioner. My opponent is against term limits. I am 100 percent conservative. My opponent said “I’m moderate on some things and conservative on others.”

If elected, what do you want to accomplish?

A: Four major priorities: 

1. To attract jobs through focused economic development efforts in part by reshaping the job of commissioner to be the lead salesman for our county.

2. To implement zero-based budgeting, ensure that taxes do not rise and balance the county’s budget.

3. To develop comprehensive water, sewer, transportation and land-use plans and thus ensure that zoning with teeth is put in place to protect our county from unhealthy growth.

4. To provide the best leadership role possible to ensure that family strength is improved in our county.

Once in office, what would your top priority be?

A: Two of equal importance:

A. To lead a job attraction initiative targeted to bring midwest auto, sub-assembly jobs to our county.

B. To install modern management practices that lead our complex government operations to find better ways to do more with less.

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

The most important question in this election is, “Who has the experience to move Bartow forward?” I feel like my 40-year professional career, which includes economic development, financial development, engineering and executive management experience, makes me the best prepared. Additionally, I am a proven conservative who grew up Barry Goldwater and Milton Friedman.

Name: Steve Taylor

Occupation: Owner, Taylor Farm Supply

Age: 56

What do you want voters to know about you and your candidacy as you go into your final vote?

A: First of all, I am grateful to have received the most votes and move to the run off. This is an extremely important election, one that will set the course of our county years to come. I am a lifelong Bartow County resident, businessman and active volunteer with solid conservative values. I believe I possess the right combination of business, leadership and management skills, the vision and practical knowledge to lead Bartow County through these next critical years. I am a team builder who believes a true leader is first a servant. I am someone who will listen and look into different sides of an issue before making a decision. I am opposed to new taxes and will continue my work in bringing good paying jobs to Bartow County.

The next commissioner must be able to relate to people from all walks of life and treat everyone with respect. I have owned and operated Taylor Farm Supply, a successful business, for thirty years. This business would never have succeeded without my ability to build lasting relationships and by respecting the people throughout this county.

I am an active volunteer with civic and charitable organizations. Relay for Life is near and dear to my heart. I am fortunate to have been recognized by my peers as a leader in this community. I was appointed by Commissioner Brown to serve on the Bartow County Development Authority and serve as its Chairman. In 2004 I was appointed to the Joint Development Authority and serve as its Secretary. These are both volunteer positions. I am proud of the work we have accomplished for Bartow County, efforts resulting in 5,730 new jobs. Most recently we announced 220 new jobs coming to our Industrial Park on Cass-White Road. With our local economy being the number one issue in this election, my experience in job creation sets me apart as a candidate. I will work for the day when everyone wanting a good paying job in Bartow County will have one.

I believe we must all work together in a fiscally conservative manner to provide the quality services on which the people of Bartow County rely and enjoy. We have wonderful senior facilities and recreation parks and programs which are valuable to our citizens now and must be maintained for future generations. With our current county administrator, Steve Bradley, retiring one of my first objectives will be to hire a county administrator who will serve a major role in achieving the goals of maintaining and improving our quality of life.

I have enjoyed the campaign process. I have made every effort to convey to the voters the person I am and the job I will do as their next commissioner. I believe in the people of Bartow County and am opposed to new taxes. We have great department heads whose employees are hardworking men and women vitally important to the day to day business of the county. I look forward to meeting with them and discussing ways to ensure our citizens, our children and our grandchildren always have the safe, clean environment they deserve in which to live, work and play.

Again, I am grateful for this opportunity. This has been an exciting time for my family and me. I have met so many kind, generous, and supportive people. We have discussed the issues and shared ideas. It was a privilege to participate in the election process with the other candidates. And now, as we move towards this Tuesday's runoff, I ask for your vote. This is a very important election. I have the experience of bringing jobs to Bartow County and believe I have the qualifications to best serve the people. Together we will work to ensure a great and prosperous future.

As commissioner, I know it is not about me, but the people I serve.

Why did you decide to run for this position?

A: I have been so blessed by this community. After running a family business for 30 years, I decided to offer myself as a candidate for commissioner. I have a vision for this community that includes good paying jobs, a clean environment and safe neighborhoods. I believe I have the experience needed to benefit the community that has been so good to me. I want my children and grandchildren to have opportunities to live, work and play in Bartow County.

If elected, what do you wish to accomplish?

A: When elected, I would like to expand economic opportunities for all citizens of Bartow County.

I would like to make sure we have all the resources in place to make this county the most desirable county in the state to do business. I want to do all that I can to see to it that our existing companies have the resources they need to grow their business. Jobs, good paying jobs, will stimulate our community and get us back on the road to prosperity.

Once in office, what would your top priority be?

A: Doing everything I can to put people to work. I will use my experience of successfully recruiting businesses to bring good paying jobs to Bartow County. In doing this, I will hire the best qualified county administrator, a person with vast knowledge in municipal government and legal expertise. I would meet with all department heads to ensure a positive working relationship with the best team in place. Recruiting good jobs for our community will enhance our quality of life and give hope to struggling families.

Why are you the best candidate for this position? 

A: I believe I am the best qualified. Not only have I successfully run a business for the past 30 years, but I have already been successful in recruiting business and industry to Bartow County; over 5,000 jobs since 2004. I am the chairman of the Bartow Development authority, a member of the Joint Development Authority and have served on the Chamber Board. I have also served on the Etowah Scholarship Foundation Board and am active in The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, which is very close to my heart. I know most of our citizens on a first name basis and will do all that I can to make sure we are always proud to call Bartow County home.