Ward 4 Dougherty County Commission candidate Pat Garner, center, joins supporters at the downtown Government Center Tuesday for his official campaign kickoff. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)
ALBANY — Democratic District 4 Dougherty County Commission candidate Pat Garner came out firing Tuesday as he officially kicked off his quest to unseat incumbent Ewell Lyle.
“The incumbent is on record saying he did very little in his first three years of office as he tried to ‘learn the ropes,’” Garner, an assistant professor of English at Darton State College, said to a gathering of supporters on the patio of the downtown Government Center. “Well, I can tell you now that it’s not going to take me three years to figure out the duties of the County Commission. It’s not going to take me three months, and it’s not going to take me three days.
“I’ll be ready to go the day I take the position.”
Garner, who must defeat fellow political newcomer Tracy Taylor in the May 20 Democratic primary to have a shot at squaring off with Lyle, said he will concentrate on three key issues as his campaign kicks into gear.
“First, we must raise the wages of our first responders, Dougherty County Police officers, sheriff’s deputies and emergency medical personnel,” Garner said. “Second, I am opposed to the natural gas pipeline that a private company is proposing to bring through Dougherty County. They have not promised a single job or economic benefit in Dougherty County, only that our environment will be at risk and our property values will depreciate.
“Third, I will fight to keep the canals clean and do anything else to help fight the mosquito infestation in the county. The people of District 4 say the county is not doing enough to eradicate the mosquito problem.”
While Garner took most of his swings at Lyle Tuesday, he did challenge comments made by Democratic opponent Taylor.
“My Democratic opponent claimed he had a unique advantage in dealing with the issues impacting young citizens of our community, but that’s not true,” Garner said. “We’re close to the same age, and I mentor hundreds of young people a week in my duties at Darton.
“I plan to run a campaign that will appeal to young voters, middle-age voters and senior voters. I’m going to address the issues that impact everyone.”
Garner said he has the energy that should take him through the primary to the Nov. 4 general election.
“This campaign will be akin to a marathon,” he said. “That’s fine with me. I ran 31 miles three weeks ago, 26.2 miles two weeks ago, 26.2 miles a week ago and 13 miles last weekend. I’ve got the energy and the drive it takes for this. Giving up is just not in my vocabulary.”