James Ray Canady is hopeful to see another term as a county commissioner. He qualified in March and will officially be on the ballot in May.
Canady’s tenure on the board of commission dates back to 2002, minus a four-year hiatus when he was defeated by Matt Blackburn.
That break in servitude made him want to run again during the last election cycle, and it reiterated to him once he was re-elected that he loves being a commissioner and doesn’t want to exit his seat any time soon, which, in turn, prompted him to seek re-election.
“When I was of the board for that one term, I don’t think I ever really quit being a commissioner,” Canady said. “People would still call me about issues, and I was still able to help them.”
That same group of constituents encouraged him to run again when the time came, and he did. He was victorious over the incumbent at the time, and he has loved every minute of being back on the board.
“The whole reason I got involved in politics is because I love this county and our community. I wanted to make a difference so young people wouldn’t have to leave Emanuel County to find work. Since I’ve been on the board, I’ve gotten to do a lot of things I consider to be pretty important.”
In an interview on Monday, Canady looked back on some of the projects he has been fortunate to take part in as a commissioner.
For starters, he was one of the folks who worked on the logistics to bring Huber here. Although the deal with the manufacturer fell through, Canady prides himself as being part of the group that beat out numerous other counties across Georgia and from South Carolina in getting Huber to agree to make Swainsboro its home in the first place.
Secondly, Canady is passionate about the Keep Emanuel Beautiful initiative. He says he was on the committee before it dissolved years ago, and he has been an advocate for revitalizing it. Frustrated by the state of Emanuel’s cleanliness (or lack thereof) as it relates to trash, he hopes the restarted program will pay dividends and help Emanuel look better.
“I’m so tired of seeing trash on our roads. I think we all are, but I am especially. It just looks ugly for our county when people are coming through, especially potential businesses.”
As a commissioner already on the board, Canady is steadily promoting the Keep Emanuel Beautiful campaign and will continue to address the issue of litter if he’s re-elected.
When asked what other goals he has if he returns to office, Canady had a couple that rose above the rest.
“Our facility updates need to be addressed,” he started. “A big one is our radio system for our emergency services. This is an $8.7 million project, and I want to see it through. I also want to continue working on TSPLOST projects to get our county roads resurfaced.”
He says he has already been working on other projects the public has probably learned about in recent months, including the renovations at the senior center (about which a story will publish in The Chronicle next week) as well as the new 911 building.
“The crew was actually pulled off the project for a little while, but after we talked with the governor and Senator Billy Hickman, they started back working in February. I hope I was instrumental in that.”
Canady went on to explain that these kind of undertakings make being a commissioner a multi-faceted job, but it’s one he’s prepared to do. After all, he entered the workforce at just 12-years-old and hasn’t looked back.
As a preteen, he worked at a tractor dealership. He completed high school at ECI in 1969 and went on to obtain a degree in heating/air conditioning and refrigeration from Swainsboro Tech two years later.
However, he returned to what he knew and loved in 1977 when he went in as a partner in C&H Tractor Company.
Since then, he has worked at other dealerships, mostly buying and selling tractors as well as performing mechanical work from time to time.
On a personal note, Canady is an avid ECI Bulldog; he has been “pulling chains” for the Dawgs for 34 years.
He also loves to hunt, fish, and be outdoors.
He has two children, six grandchildren, and one great-grand.
All in all, he’s hopeful to keep his spot despite opposition and continue serving all citizens, not just those in his district.
“When you’re a commissioner in a rural place like Emanuel County, you’re a commissioner for the county—not just the people who live in your district. That’s the kind of public servant I try to be. If I can be of any help, please reach out.”
The best way to reach Canady is on Facebook or by phone at 912-286-2513. Questions about his campaign can be directed to him through these methods as well.