LEESBURG -- As the state's July 20 Republican primary draws closer and the Lee County Commission's District 3 race has started to heat up, some of Ed Duffy's supporters have encouraged him to go after challenger Lester Leggette on personal issues.
Duffy, however, has a simple answer to such suggestions.
"My focus for this campaign is to run on my record," Duffy said. "It speaks for itself."
The District 3 (Palmyra) commissioner, who has served as chairman of the Commission for the past two years, then offers his most compelling evidence to support his case:
n The addition of fire/EMS stations in the Palmyra and Smithville districts;
n The construction of an animal shelter in the county;
n No property tax increases over the almost four years of his tenure;
n The development of a newsletter to keep citizens informed of county government activity;
n The more than doubling of the county's "rainy day" fund, from $3.2 million to $6.4 million, in three years, even with a depressed economy;
n Balanced budgets that include no tax increases, no layoffs and no furloughs but with cost-of-living increases for county employees;
n Increases in Sheriff Reggie Rachals' budget that provide for additional needed manpower and equipment;
n A restructuring of $22 million in Utilities Authority debt that keeps the Commission from having to transfer more than $900,000 a year from the county's general fund to the Authority for debt service over the next eight years;
n The meeting with Standard and Poor's analysts in New York to secure a AA- debt rating that has already saved the county almost $1.5 million.
"The theme of my campaign is 'experience matters'," Duffy said. "Over the last four years, I've been vice chair of the Utilities Authority, on the Lee County Health Board, the Lee County Pension Board, the Parks and Recreation Authority, the Commission's Budget Committee and the Regional Development Center.
"I have acquired a lot of knowledge serving on these boards, and the last two years the Board of Commissioners has elected me chairman."
Duffy has made attracting commercial development to the county a priority during his first term of office, and he points to projects such as a partially state-funded library/conference center and the planned move of Albany Tractor Co. and its 70 jobs on U.S. Highway 82; the development of the Publix at Lee Crossings shopping complex, CVS Pharmacy and Heritage Bank branch at Forrester Parkway and U.S. 19; and the $5 million-$6 million Forrester Senior Village development off Forrester Parkway as proof of his commitment to development.
"My vision for the next four years dictates we must invite commercial development to Lee County," the retired sales executive said. "Acquiring commercial development and bringing local-option sales tax money into the county is the only way we can continue to provide our quality-of-life services without raising property taxes.
"I campaigned as a fiscal conservative, and I will continue to be a good steward of taxpayers' money. I will always be committed to open and honest government, and one of my main priorities is always to protect the health, welfare and safety of every citizen of Lee County. And I will always be accessible."
And while it is the voters in the Palmyra district who put Duffy in office, the Commission chairman says he has made a continuing commitment to all 35,000 of the county's citizens.
"As chairman I not only represent the citizens of the Palmyra District, it is my responsibility to serve as a representative of every citizen who lives in Lee County," he said. "When I was elected, I made a pledge that if anyone called on me, I would lead them to the proper person to address their problems and try to get an answer. I've done that.
"God has blessed me with great health and an abundance of energy to do what is required to represent the people of my district. I think we are blessed to live in the best county in Southwest Georgia, and together we can continue to make Lee County even better. I will use my experience to protect and promote our conservative values, not only for the people of the Palmyra District but for all of Lee County."