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District 2 commissioner candidates respond

By Deanna Ryan

The special election for Emanuel County District 2 county commissioner will be held on March 21, 2023. The last day to register to vote in the special election was February 21, 2023. Voting began February 27, 2023 and a total of 127 early votes have been placed as of Monday, March 13.

All three candidates for the District 2 seat, Ellis Hooks, Ricky Thompson, and Jacqueline Brantley, were asked questions by The Crossroads Chronicle. Below are the responses we received from each candidate preceded by a brief summary of their backgrounds. Ellis Hooks

Ellis Hooks, a lifelong Emanuel County resident, has spent 30 years working for Middle Georgia Management, managing Louisville Finance Company. He is currently working at Famous Credit in Swainsboro. He’s spent eight years serving as an Emanuel County School Board member. He has one son, Ashley Hooks, who is married to Marla Price Hooks and two grandchildren, Ella Jo and Broxton Hooks, who are students in the Emanuel County School System. Very important to him is the support he receives from Kimmie Jackson and her children Remington and Redleigh.

Do you have a background in politics? Yes, I spent 8 years serving the Emanuel County School System as a member of the Emanuel County School Board.

Why are you running for County Commissioner? I am seeking the District 2 Commissioner seat because I think we need more accountability for the tax payers not only in District 2 but for all citizens in Emanuel County. Citizens have the right to know what and why their tax dollars are being spent. I firmly believe that we don’t need a “rubber stamp” on issues that effect incomes of citizens in Emanuel County.

What do you think are the three most important roles County Commissioners play in the community? 1) First and foremost, I feel that county commissioners are the “voice” of the citizens. It is important for them to establish relationships with people in their district to ensure that their needs and concerns are heard. In addition, commissioners are responsible for ensuring that these needs and concerns are given the attention they deserve. 2) Maintaining the integrity of the Board of Commissioners. 3) Assure the Citizens of Emanuel County that a sufficient budget will be established and that the board will operate within this budget at all times.

What experiences do you have that would serve as a knowledge base for performing any of these roles? I have served the public for the past 37 years managing a small loan office for Middle GA Management. It was my responsibility to ensure that the loan customers received was within their budget, and that they were able to repay the debt. Also, I voted and approved budgets in my position on the Emanuel County School Board.

What county services would focus on helping improve? Maintaining roads, maintenance of dumpster sites, help the Emanuel County Development Authority bring new jobs to Emanuel County.

How do you propose these improvements could be funded? Revising the budget and apply for grants will help pay for some of these new projects.

Do you plan to promote any changes to existing taxes? Definitely not! The county did decrease the millage rate this past year, but it raised the property values and that in turn caused citizens to experience a tax increase.

Jacqueline Brantley

Jacqueline Brantley was born in Burke County. She attended Savannah State University (SSU) where she pursued her passion in “studying behavioral and social sciences under the umbrella of criminal justice.” She earned her Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and an Associate’s in Psychology. She’s interned with Lenny Darden, a prominent Savannah attorney and has worked with the Department of Corrections (DOC) and other agencies as a Behavioral Health Counselor. She retired after 28 years of service and now works for Mary Kay, Inc. and serves the community by participating in local events such as Relay for Life, Toys for Tots, Adopt a Senior, Pampering Time, and is a faithful member of Forts Grove Baptist Church in Cross and Green. She is a devoted mother of three, Latisha Brown of Port Wentworth, Ashley Valmont of Swainsboro, and Devin Wesby of Warner Robins, Her and her late husband, Samuel Brantley, instilled in all of them the value of showing up for others and making a lasting impact in the world.

Jacqueline Brantley’s platform in three parts

Increase community engagement. Jacqueline will amplify the voices of the people by providing clear communication between the citizens and leadership. To do this, she will host district meetings to speak with constituents.

Improve neighborhoods and access to affordable housing. Jacqueline is a member of Keep Emanuel Beautiful which is focusing on cleaning up and maintaining a cleaner Emanuel County. She will support the tearing down of dilapidated homes to make room for new infrastructure. Jacqueline also supports penalties for negligent home/property owners.

Support our local school system and encourage student engagement. Jacqueline supports local non-profit organizations targeted at assisting Emanuel County youth. She looks forward to actively developing ways to fund entertainment spaces fo the youth and providing outside resources within the county for parents and students.

Ricky Thompson

Ricky Thompson was born in Swainsboro and has lived most of his life in Nunez where he served on Nunez City Council for many years. Since marrying his wife Diana in 2001, he has lived in District 2 for 21 years. Thompson worked Coca-Cola United Bottling Company, then became owner of a local Snap-On Tools Franchise - Thompson Tools. Recently, he and Diana purchased the Retirement Inn and Church Street Manor. Thompson is a member of Nunez Baptist Church where he currently serves as a Deacon. In his spare time, he enjoys working on old classic trucks, riding his motorcycle, fishing and going camping with his family and friends. He has two teenage sons, 19-year-old Guyton, and 16-year-old Grayson.

Do you have a background in politics? I served as a councilman for the city of Nunez, Ga. for a single term prior to marrying my wife and moving from Nunez to Swainsboro where I have lived for nearly two decades.

Why are you running for County Commissioner? I decided to run for commissioner to get in touch with the people of this district. I will, if given the opportunity, make our district a better place for the current residents and those to come.

What do you think are the three most important roles County Commissioners play in the community? The three most critical rolls of county commissioner are as follows: oversight of a well allocated budget, fair and equal representation of every voter within the district, and a good, transparent relationship with our representatives such as Rep. Parrish and Rep. Burns

What experiences do you have that would serve as a knowledge base for performing any of these roles? I once served as a councilman in the city of Nunez which exposed me to politics initially, however I have since run my own franchise for two decades, and assist my wife in the management of two local retirement facilities. Budgeting and public appearance have become an important aspect of my day to day life.

What county services would focus on helping improve?A Priority service in need of improving, is the management of the districts dirt road systems, more specifically the drainage of these roads. State and federal grants along with my help could possibly improve the conditions of our dirt roads and even effect the rate at which these roads need to be maintained or fixed. I see poor dirt road conditions too often, and that should not be such a popular issue when a large number of residents in the district reside on dirt roads.

How do you propose these improvements could be funded? Revising the budget and apply for grants will help pay for some of these new projects.

Do you plan to promote any changes to existing taxes? Currently I have no intent on raising or lowering any taxation rates within the district without further exposure to any possible issues within.