Published Saturday, March 24, 2012
By SARAH FAY CAMPBELL
Attorney Robert Stokely, who currently serves as Coweta County's State Court solicitor general, is running for the Georgia House of Representatives District 71 seat being vacated by Rep. Billy Horne, Sharpsburg.
"I have been privileged and honored to serve the citizens of Coweta County as solicitor since August 14, 1998," Stokely said. " I love being solicitor and working in the office with what I call my second family. But I made a promise when I took office that 16 years was the max I would serve."
Serving 16 years would require him to "ask the voters for another four-year term knowing that I plan to step down two years in," he said. "That would not be honest."
"There is a time to leave and the end of this term on Dec. 31, 2012 is the time for me to close out my service as solicitor of Coweta County," Stokely said. "I have been blessed by God in so many ways and I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to serve as solicitor of Coweta County."
"I would like to say that I appreciate Billy Horne's hard work and dedicated service," Stokely said. "I have had the pleasure of working closely with him to enact some legislation, and to stop some," he said. "At times, Billy and I have not always agreed on other legislation but I appreciate that he listened, and then was upfront with me" about where he stood, and voted "how he felt his district should be represented."
A state representative "can not and will not get a unanimous view on every issue," Stokely said. "And sooner or later, that representative is going to have to have the political courage to stake out a vote on an issue and face the heat for that vote, maybe even enough heat to get voted out of office," he said.
"As solicitor, I always said this: I would rather lose my job doing it the way I believed was the right way to do it, than keep it by not."
Stokely was asked if there are any issues of particular importance to him.
"I think the first thing I should do is listen to what the concerns of the citizens of District 71 are, and see what the majority of them want addressed," he said. "After all, I'm going to be hired by them and need to represent what is important to them."
But there are, of course, some things he feels are particularly important.
The state "makes too many laws and over regulates," Stokely said. And when the legislature passes a law, "it tends to leave it wide open to a state agency to implement that law through regulations written by people who do not have accountability to the citizens."
Additionally, "we need to sift through state government and eliminate operations are duplicative and don't need to exist. We continue to tax for this and tax for that, or package funding with a label called a fee for this and fee for that," Stokely said. "But in the end, whether you call it a pig or swine, it is still pork and that is wasteful and takes your hard-earned money and lets government decide how to spend it," he said. "I think you and I can do a better job of spending our money than government can."
Stokely said he believes in term limits for all elected state, county, and municipal officials. "You can't have new blood and new leadership rise to the top when people grab power and hold on forever," he said.
It's also "time we remind Washington who runs the show," he said, and stop letting the federal government "cram its overbearing, wasteful programs down our throats. We need some people to simply challenge the authority of the crowd in Washington, rather than bowing to their overbearing and unreasonable demands."
On his campaign website, Stokely says that he will not accept gifts or lunches from lobbyists or special interest groups. He says he will not accept campaign contributions from political action committees or special interests. And while the legislature is specifically exempt from the Georgia Open Records Act, "on day one I will be transparent and fully comply" with open records laws "as though I were not exempted," Stokely said.
Why should people vote for Stokely?
"I am a conservative who will lead from the front and I am not afraid to stand alone," he said. "I believe in helping those who can not help themselves, or who are being bullied by others. Right is always right no matter if the majority votes for wrong," he said.
"I know how to build consensus and engage in constructive compromise, but I also understand that caving in is not an option, but is surrender without honor," he said. "I will tell you the truth even if it costs me your friendship or vote. I will do what is right even if it costs me personally. I will admit when I am wrong but I will stand by my principles even if no one will stand with me," he said. "I will represent District 71 and the citizens therein, not the wishes and desires of others."
"I love serving the public and the timing of Billy Horne's announcement gives me an opportunity to seek to continue serving in a role where I have the experience to represent" the district, Stokely said. "It is a job I want to do and a job where I can be a voice representing the views of the 71st District. Your support is critical to me in this election effort," he said. "I need your help and ask that you join me in this campaign."
Stokely's campaign website is www.StickWithStokely.com . He can be contacted at 678-416-1387 or email@example.com .