Published Thursday, February 14, 2013

Athens businessman wins spot on GDOT Board

By Walter C. Jones

Morris News Service

ATLANTA – An Athens real-estate appraiser is the new representative on the State Transportation Board for the 10th congressional district, upsetting board member and retired veteran legislator Bobby Parham.

Parham had served in the Georgia House from 1975 until 2009.

Jamie Boswell won a five-year term in secret-ballot voting Wednesday by legislators who represent parts of the district. When sworn in at the April meeting, he will be one of five newcomers to the 14-member board and one of the few board members who never served in the General Assembly.

Boswell says he’s isn’t aligned with any philosophy, such as those who favor mass transit over roads or vice versa. Instead, he’s keeping an open mind and relying on his background in commercial real-estate appraising, including 25 years on transportation projects.

“Being in the real-estate business, I understand how transportation affects property values,” he said, noting that problems like a malfunctioning traffic signal have an economic impact beyond tying up cars.

Local legislators say they’re pleased he won.

“It could be good for Athens to have somebody local serving on that board who knows the people and the legislators in the area,” said Sen. Bill Cowsert, R-Athens.

Rep. Regina Quick, R-Athens, said, “I feel like he understands the issues.”

For instance, he’s traveled along Georgia Highway 316 to get to the Department of Transportation in downtown Atlanta and has a firsthand appreciation for the importance in removing traffic lights that add to the traffic delays there. He has avoided the road himself for the last five years.

He’ll brings his background as president of The Boswell Group, which includes property appraisal and insurance sales. He also a former member of the Athens City Council, active with the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce and a graduate of the University of Georgia.

“I personally know Jamie Boswell, and his expertise … not only with real estate but in business in terms of helping people who are trying to develop real estate, means he understands the issues from the business side of what the Department of Transportation does,” Quick said.

Also Wednesday, legislators elected one of their former colleagues, ex-Rep. Roger Williams of Dalton, to the open seat from the 14th District and re-elected Emily Dunn in the 9th. Neither was opposed.

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