Coomer, Ledford seeking first State House term
by Jon Gargis
Oct 29, 2010 | 1305 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
There's no incumbent's advantage for either Christian Coomer or Dan Ledford.

The two are vying for the State House District 14 seat previously held by Cassville's Barry Loudermilk. The Republican candidate is facing Democrat Mike Burton of Cave Spring in the District 52 State Senate race.

Ledford has lived in Euharlee for 11 years and works as an account specialist. Though listed as a Democrat on the ballot, he calls himself a "moderate Democrat."

"I'm an average guy. I work 40 hours a week like people that are blessed with jobs do. I'm not rich, I'm middle to low class, but I'm an everyday person, and that's one of the reasons I'm running," Ledford said.

"The biggest thing I hear when we talk about it is, 'They're not listening to us.' And we compare these form letters that we get [from representatives and senators]. You know this has been typed for months. To me, that's not acceptable representation."

Republican Coomer, a Cartersville attorney, served four years of active duty in the U.S. Air Force as a JAG and still serves in the reserves. The father of two said that while he would be a freshman representative if elected, his background with his party would aid him in the job.

"We do have a Republican majority in the House and Senate, and I have not served there but I have friends and relations and colleagues in both chambers that I have known and worked with for years in various campaigns and projects, and I think I have enough reputation and rapport with those people to be able to walk into an office as a freshman and say, 'OK, I don't know all the ins and outs of everything going on here, but I do know this is our priority, this is a priority for the 14th district, help me get it done -- what do I need to do to move this ball forward,' and actually get help on it instead of just lip service."

Coomer said two of the biggest challenges he believes will face the district will include political redistricting and the economy.

"As far as the economy, we had some good opportunities. In fact, the Legislature has passed some good bills that were not signed into law recently that I think have a lot of support going forward with the Legislature again, including zero-based budgeting and the sunset bill and the [Jobs, Opportunity, and Business Success Act of 2010], all of which are really good, bi-partisan supported economic recovery bills that focus on ways to limit waste in state government as well as ways encourage job growth and job creation in the private sector," Coomer said. "I think those will have support coming up again.

"I think they'd be an opportunity for us to put some conservative ideas into practice and let people see if cutting taxes and controlling spending and reducing waste really does help the economy, and I think it will, and I'd be happy to see that carried out in Georgia."

Ledford also cited the economy and state funding as a hot topic. He said one of his goals as representative would be to look at budgets line-by-line and cut pet projects that are not needed amid the current economy, citing hypothetical situations of funding for statues or dog paths in a city.

Funding saved by such cuts, Ledford added, could go back toward education coffers to restore districts' 180-day school years and end teacher furloughs.

One of the major local issues the candidates disagree on is the 411 connector, a proposed four-lane highway that would connect U.S. 411 at the U.S. 41 interchange with Interstate 75 near its intersection with Georgia 20. Ledford opposes the current route, known as Route DV-E.

"We can't continue to waste money, we can't continue to build roads that have 13 bridges, and create a traffic jam in the Cartersville area that has never been seen before, and would take longer to build. That's the 411 connector," Ledford said. "I want it finished, I want to be out there and break ground on it if I'm elected.

"If enough people stand up to it and say, 'We're not going to allow this,' they'll have to change it, they'll have to do what the people want. The people tell me, 90 percent or better, they don't want DV-E.

"I'd meet with the head of the Department of Transportation, get a meeting with him or her. I'd say, 'This is my district; let's look at it realistically,'" Ledford added. "If it came down to a funding bill ... I would vote against it, saying, 'Not if they're going with DV-E, because it's a waste of taxpayer money.'"

But Coomer said he hopes to see Route DV-E stay on course.

"To go back and essentially start over on the process to try to adopt a different route would require us to go back through the federal transportation approval process, which could take several more years, and ultimately, I don't think anyone wants to see that project get shelved for another five, 10, 15 years," Coomer said, adding that his goal as representative would be to unite with representatives and senators representing Bartow and surrounding counties and lobby the next governor and DOT leaders to push the project through.

"Getting a road built as soon as possible and efficiently as possible is paramount, I think, and it's important economically -- transportation is a core element of the economy, and opening up that corridor or finishing that corridor from 411 over to I-75, especially in the right location, is going to improve traffic in Cartersville and Bartow County," Coomer added. "It's going to improve the ability of western Bartow in particular to develop economically, to have more industry attracted to that area. There are vast tracts of land over there that could be developed for heavy or light industry but for the lack of access to a major traffic thoroughfare, I-75."

For more information on Christian Coomer, visit www.christiancoomer.com. Dan Ledford's campaign site can be found at www.danledfordforga.com.