ALBANY — For the first time since being elected to the Georgia House 10 years ago, Rep. Ed Rynders, R-Leesburg, will face a challenger for his seat. Mary Egler, a substitute teacher, will provide that opposition in the House District 152 race Republican primary.
Egler, who has run unsuccessfully three times for the Lee County Commission, twice as a Democrat and once as an independent, was a surprise entry into the race, this time on the Republican ticket.
“Everybody wants to know why I am running as a Republican. My answer is that my views are a lot stronger and different now,” Egler said. “I had thought about (running for Rynders’ seat) for awhile and a few people made comments, so I jokingly said I should run against Mr. Rynders. So, I borrowed the money and ran. The district needs to be represented equally. The district is the southern end of Sumter County, and Worth and Lee counties. From the people I have spoken to some of them feel like they are not being represented in Atlanta.”
Rynders, who is chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee, secretary of the Health and Human Services, a member of Intragovernmental Coordination, secretary on Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment, and a member of the Transportation Committee, pointed out that Southwest Georgia has lost several influential members of the House and Senate and can’t afford to lose any more.
“We’ve lost representation in south Georgia due to redistricting and loss of population. But we have a seat at the table; I’m at that table and I vote for the conservative principles of my constituency,” said Rynders. “Members of the local governments say I have delivered on much-needed infrastructure projects to the district. That is returning local taxpayer dollars from Atlanta.
“For example, we have the governor coming to town on May 8 for the groundbreaking of the Leesburg bypass that will alleviate school traffic congestion in Leesburg. In Worth County we got funding for an expansion of the airport that will help keep jobs in the county.”
Rynders pointed to recent projects such as the sewer and water lines along Robert B. Lee Road in Leesburg.
“That area is really starting to pop now,” Rynders said. “We have a new school, new lumber company and retail outlets along that stretch of road. Had we not gotten funding from the state for that project, we could have seen a property tax increase.”
If elected, Egler said her priorities would be jobs, education and agriculture
“We have a jobs problem in Southwest Georgia,” she said. “A lot of people aren’t happy with their jobs. You go to apply for a job and unless you have a college degree you end up working a part-time job and they expect you to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at each one and a lot of people are working two or three part-time jobs just to make ends meet with no medical benefits, no retirement benefits, no vacation, no nothing. And they are barely getting their ends met.
“Education is also a concern. There is a lot that can be done in education that I have witnessed first-hand. In education, the parents, and the administration and the students and the teachers all need to work together. They need to do more to get the parents more involved. I was a long term sub over at Albany High for a couple of years. I had parent-teacher conferences and a lot of the parents told me that I enjoy talking to you. I appreciate it because you don’t talk down to me and make me feel like I’m ignorant or stupid. That is something that needs to be addressed in the school system when they address parents.
“A lot of these parents don’t have degrees, they don’t have high school diplomas, and you need to take that situation into account. It would probably get them more involved with their children’s education because they want them to graduate. They want them to do better than what they were.
Egler said she understood there would be a learning curve for her, but added she is a fast learner.
“Whenever I want to know something, I find the facts and I research it and I try to understand it the best I can,” she said. “I talk with other people and get their opinions and if there is a conflict I try to find a middle ground.
Should he win re-election Rynders said he would keep on doing what he’s done since being sworn into office in January of 2003.
“I will continue to try to return taxpayers’ money home,” he said. “Plus, we are hoping to see some expanded post-secondary opportunities in the district.