ALBANY, Ga. -- As the time winds down on the 2010 campaigns, District 2 incumbent John Hayes is standing on his record of supporting public safety and thinking outside the box to try to retain jobs, generate revenue and provide relief to the citizens of Dougherty County.
Hayes is opposed for re-election by Lonnie Smith, a retired aeronautical engineer seeking his first go as an elected official.
While it's been a grueling time for public officials, Hayes says he feels pretty good about the way he and his colleagues on the Dougherty County Commission have worked to trim government to a responsible level, while maintaining service levels to the public.
An advocate of innovative thinking, Hayes says the current time require a different kind of mentality in government; one that is flexible and open to new ideas and unafraid to pursue those ideas.
"The times we're in now require a different kind of leadership -- a non traditional form of leadership," Hayes said. "We can't just do what the county government has always done. We have to think outside of the box to find those new ways of generating revenue and retaining jobs."
As the elected representative for District 2, Hayes said he's worked hard to make sure they have a voice both in the county's policy decisions and in the long-term direction of the county.
Hayes holds quarterly listening sessions, which he touts as the only program in the county that brings the government to the people four times each year.
In his current term, Hayes has pushed for the county to allow prescription drug benefit card companies to make their products available to citizens who are either under covered by their health insurance or who have no insurance at all; has pushed for increased street lighting and involvement in Neighborhood watch programs which he says are viable resources to fight crime.
"We've started an annual recognition of neighborhood watch groups because they truly are the bridge between law enforcement and the community," Hayes said. "Our law enforcement officers will tell you that the more a community engages with them the more effective they can be in the management of crime."
An entrepreneur and small businessman, Hayes said he knows the importance of jobs and job creation, but said its equally important to keep the jobs we have. Government should help create an environment where businesses don't feel threatened and can not only retain workers, but grow, he said.
Hayes has talked publicly about leveraging what he says are our community resources to help keep local businesses and entities competitive and promote inter-community commerce between businesses to meet their needs rather than going outside of county and gathering resources.
Hayes said he was proud of what he called a "historic," contract the county was able to broker with the Marine Corps and the United States Navy to provide methane from the county's landfill to MCLB Albany to use as energy.
"That partnership could be just another reason why those officials in Washington decide to keep the base open and those 4,000 jobs intact," Hayes said.
As voters head to the polls, Hayes said he hopes voters will understand the need to keep someone in office who truly understands the demands he says local government is under and who is a consensus builder on the board.
"What you need in the county now is a steady hand who has been there and understands the issues," Hayes said. "Someone who is a consensus builder but who also can be innovative and I think I bring that to the table."