Voters in the western part of Colquitt County will vote Tuesday for the state representative in the Georgia General Assembly from the 171st District.
Two Mitchell Countians — incumbent Jay Powell (R-Camilla} and retired educator Jewell D. Howard — will run in the redrawn district that now includes precincts in Bridgecreek, Hamilton, Hartsfield, Funston, Mill Creek, Doerun, Monk and Thigpen. The district also includes Mitchell County and portions of Decatur County, including Bainbridge.
The majority of Colquitt County, including Moultrie, will now be voting in District 172 where Republican Sam Watson faces no opposition.
Retired educator Jewell D. Howard of Bacontion says his background in handling classroom issues and school budgets are behind his push for the District 171 House of Representatives seat.
“I had served the people of Mitchell and Colquitt Counties as a teacher and principal and I wanted to continue to serve them,” Howard said.
He is running as a Democrat on Tuesday’s ballot but says he has not campaigned based on a party agenda.
“We all have the same ideas and values but we have different ways of approaching issues,” Howard said. “I have just been trying to give people my platform and let them know what I would try and do.”
He says his primary goal would be to bring those issues directly to the voters through social media, newsletters and town hall meetings. He said he wants to spend his time when the General Assembly is not convened informing citizens of any actions that have been addressed and those coming up in future sessiions.
“Once you have an informed electorate you can get information on how to handle legislation,” Howard said. “Being retired I have the time to do that.”
Howard, 57, grew up in Montezuma and moved to Baconton in 1975 while a student at Albany State University. He taught school in Mitchell County for three years before getting a degree in school administration at Florida State University and moving back to Camilla and becoming a principal. Howard worked at Colquitt County High School and served as principal at Cox Elementary School here through 2006.
He then become superintendent of Calhoun County Schools and retired from the Terrell County School System in 2011.
Howard ran for public office and was elected to a seat on the city school system board in Pelham.
The state of Georgia is not doing enough when it comes to education, Howard said, adding he does not favor tax increases but will not rule them out for educational purposes.
“It is necessary that the state provides appropriate funding for education,” he said.
“Working in the school system we had to do without a lot due to cuts in programming and spending cuts. But you can’t do an adequate budget for education with all cuts and no taxes.
Howard says his job as a House member would be to “lay it all out to the citizens” and let them decide if taxes should be raised.