Published Sunday, September 30, 2012

King challenging for State House District 132 seat


Gene King is running for state house “because I think it is time for a common sense, business-minded individual to get involved with politics.”

King is running for Georgia House District 132, which covers a portion of Coweta including the Central, Smokey Road, Pine Road, and Grantville precincts. The district also includes northern and western portions of Meriwether County and northeastern Troup County.

King, a Republican from Meriwether County, is challenging 20-year veteran Rep. Carl Von Epps, a Democrat from LaGrange.

It’s King’s second time running against Von Epps. He first challenged him in 2008, becoming the first Republican to ever seek office in Meriwether County. He garnered 46 percent of the vote.

“The people in Meriwether County and the ones that have known me for years in Coweta County — they are not supporting a party, they are supporting an individual,” King said. And they know what he stands for, he added.

King thinks people in the district have seen a lack of leadership from Von Epps.

“He has been there for 20 years,” King said. People are ready to send a new business person to represent them, King said. “They are going to be looking for that change and a stronger, more conservative voice in the House.”

King said he doesn’t want to be a career politician. Instead, “I’m seeking to make a change and help the people of this district and the great state of Georgia.”

King said he has a few bills in mind that he would like to introduce, if elected. He’s already met with state Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens to talk about one of them.

“I plan to go and make a difference and make things happen,” King said. “I’m not going to be a yes man.”

“We’re going to make a difference and have a say. We’re going to represent Meriwether, Troup and Coweta with a very strong, conservative voice,” King said.

Even though the race is between a Republican and a Democrat, “I don’t think it is about Republicans and Democrats,” King said. “This is about people coming together, working together, making a difference in people’s lives.

“People are struggling today just to put food on the table. They’re tired of wasteful spending, they’re tired of the misuse of funds,” he said. “I’m hoping I can make a difference there.”

King lived in Coweta County for many years, and is the owner of Coweta Concrete Service. He moved to Meriwether County in 2000. He was involved in Coweta when he lived here, often attending county commission meetings.

“A lot of people know me from my voicing my opinions and fighting for people’s rights through the years here,” he said.

He is now involved in Meriwether. King said he has held town hall meetings to help people file appeals on their property tax assessments, and serves on the Meriwether Industrial Development Authority.

“I’ve been active in the county and trying to help people ever since I’ve been in Meriwether County,” King said.

Important issues to King include education and law enforcement.

“Our kids’ future is probably the biggest thing to me in society, the kids’ future and law enforcement,” he said. “It seems like every time you turn around, they want to cut education, cut law enforcement. You can’t do both,” King said.

“If we’re going to cut education, education ought to be cut from the top down, not from the bottom up,” he said. In the state education department at the higher levels, there are “like 22 people with the same job description,” King said.

“My viewpoint on education is the funding has to be there,” he said. “It’s sad to hear that schools are losing music programs because they don’t have instruments or can’t pay the teacher, or schools don’t have playgrounds,” King said.

“I don’t like cutting education at all. But if we are, it needs to be from the top down,” he said.

Law enforcement officers don’t “get paid enough for risking their lives for us day in, day out,” King said. Yet budget writers are always “talking about cutting law enforcement or cutting the state patrol, or monitoring how much fuel they get per month to be on the road,” he said. “I feel like there has got to be some place in the budget somewhere they can be cutting wasteful spending without touching law enforcement.”

King wants to work to bring jobs and industry to the area. He’d particularly like to work to get an Interstate 85 interchange at Forrest Road in Meriwether County. Meriwether currently doesn’t have its own interchange.

If elected, “the first thing I want to do when I get to the House is go and introduce myself to every Democrat and Republican that is up there — to let them know that I am there as a team player, not as a party,” King said. “And that I’ll always be open-minded” and open to input. He wants to “work as a team to make a difference in people’s lives.

“I’m not going up there with the attitude that ‘I’m a Republican and we have the say and we have the control,’ even though that is the way that it is in the House in Georgia,” King said. “I want to assure all these voters, Democrats and Republicans, that they are going to send a team player to Atlanta.”

“I tell people, if I make it to Atlanta, I’ll vote on issues every day like it is my last day. I’ll vote from my heart, guided by faith,” King said. “I’ll be able to sleep at night with my decisions, and I think people will be supportive of the decisions I make because I’ll always be doing what I think they want me to be doing.”

“I know what it is like to struggle,” King said.

“Thirty-three years ago I lived in a single-wide trailer in Sargent with plastic taped to the windows,” he said. He got where he is today “with determination and hard work.”

“Don’t take no for an answer, and don’t let anybody hold you back,” he said.

“That is the same thing I want to do when I go to Atlanta.”

People who know King “know how persistent I am,” he said. “If it is a good cause and it needs to be done, I’m not going to stop until it is completed.”

Also, “I can make a promise to the citizens of this district that if they elect me and send me to Atlanta, I will not be bought or controlled by money or gifts or anybody else that is telling me what I should or should not do,” he said.

King wants to be a “strong conservative voice” in the House “that helps open the eyes of others there to figure out where to cut wasteful pending, to focus more on our children’s education, and to create jobs for Coweta, Meriwether and Troup counties.”

“No, I don’t have all the answers,” he said. “But I can promise people I’ll give them 110 percent.”

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