Bearden's announcement was made in conjunction with his Cass High School Class' 45th anniversary held Saturday at the Clarence Brown Conference Center. Abernathy confirmed he was running to The Daily Tribune News via email after an announcement was made through social media.
"I have never before been a politician and wanted to make my first public announcement to my Cass High School classmates because they did elect me as the Best All-Round Senior and as their class president three times ... so they are the only bunch with which I have ever experienced an election," Bearden stated in a release.
Bearden said, "The approaching end of valued and long-time stable leadership could result in a challenging transition for Bartow County. I believe skills developed from my business experience have equipped me to meet those challenges. Based on my love for my community and my desire to be of service to my fellow citizens as a public servant and leader for its future, I now ask for your prayers, support and ultimately your vote as I begin the serious process to seek the serious office of Bartow County commissioner."
Bearden has completed a 40-year business career that began in a factory as a mop-maker in Cassville and ended as senior vice president of one of the 20 largest engineering/architectural firms in the U.S.
He pointed to his broad experiences in the planning, engineering and construction industry, his other entrepreneurial business efforts, as well as his extensive history of civic and church leadership, as having prepared him to lead.
Bearden in his announcement stated "the future need to attract new jobs to our local economy will be my primary goal and my broad economic development experience will be of much value as the next commissioner for the benefit of Bartow County."
He also plans to "focus heavily on budget and growth management issues" that he predicts will continue to increasingly challenge the county. He concluded, "Success with these two comprehensive goals will set the stage for a promising future of my home county which I describe to my friends who are fortunate to live here as: Bartow -- Beautiful, Balanced and Better."
Bearden is a graduate of Georgia Tech, Georgia State and Cass High. Bearden and Jan, his wife of more than 40 years, are the parents of three adult children and seven grandchildren. They reside in the Stamp Creek area.
Abernathy, the pastor of Creekside Fellowship Church on Old Alabama Road, said after much forethought he decided to pursue the position long held by Clarence Brown.
"My wife and I have been praying about this for some time. We were waiting to see what Mr. Clarence Brown decided to do. He has been an excellent commissioner for the past 20 years. He always been a friend to the community and churches. I would never have run against Mr. Clarence Brown," he said. "I have made my intentions public to my friends, members of my church and those close to our family already. I look forward to April when we can officially register."
Abernathy retired this past year after 38 years with Georgia Power. He spent 30 years in management, working at power plants within the Southern Company, and 10 years in the general office.
"Clarence Brown's team has done a great job, but now we must move forward utilizing the expertise already put in place, while bringing new blood and vision into our county government to improve our county even more," said the Cass High graduate. "Like every business we need to be frugal -- these are hard times. The financial planning and budgets have to be monitored closely for integrity. All project funding and taxes must be used as wisely as possible. Like every business there are areas of operation that can and must be improved."
Abernathy also worked in ministry, founding Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship International in Cartersville with his brother, Rocky. He also joined with the late Rev. Jackie Beavers for many years, working with the Bartow County Jail's Aftercare Program.
"The Bartow County Commissioner's Office must ensure that the business side -- legal, financial, regulatory -- and the human side of the business both continue to excel. The moral and spiritual values of Bartow County are important to us all. This county must remain a great place for people to live and work if we want to draw new business and jobs to our area. I have children and grandchildren and I want them to be able to enjoy this great county, long after I gone," he said. "Above all else we are servants of the people and our creator. We must treat all people with respect and dignity. After I am elected I will insure that everyone has a voice in our local government and is treated fairly.
"Please pray for my family and I, we need the support of everyone in Bartow County as we move into this election."
Abernathy has an associates degree in business management, bachelors in theology and masters in education. He has lived in Bartow County for 58 years. He and wife Shirley have spent almost 40 years in Kingston and Cartersville. They have three children, Clay and his wife Natilie, Christy and her husband James McDonald, Carlos and his wife Mellisa, and eight grandchildren.