October 9, 2018

Brian Kemp is my choice for governor

            When people ask me about my choice for governor, my answer is Brian Kemp.  I’ve never met a perfect politician, but I can tell you why I’m voting for my down-the-road neighbor.  One reason is highlighted by a mutual friend, David, who was invited to a rally at Brian’s home.
            Earlier in the day, Brian had mowed.  When David arrived, Brian was setting up tables and chairs.  “Brian Kemp is a roll-up-his-sleeves-and-go-to-work fellow,” David said.  “I know he will work for me, too.”  Those two sentences say plenty.
            Brian is a worker.  As a young man, he put calluses on his hands digging ditches and swinging a hammer.  As a diversified businessman, he’s been a jobs creator.  I have special admiration for those candidates who have met a payroll.  Brian’s entrepreneurial experiences—through good times and not-so-good times—give him a special edge in 2018’s gubernatorial race.
            His family is an asset, too.  My relationship with his extended family goes back to before Brian and Marty were married.  Decades ago, I met her parents, Bob and Jean Argo. Bob died in 2016, but he and his wife were quintessential good citizens and civic leaders in Athens.  I believe that behind every good man is usually a great woman.  Brian and his late father-in-law are classic examples of that belief.
            While I make my living—primarily—from what you are now reading, I also consider myself a farmer. I like livestock, tractors and digging in the dirt.  Our secretary of state, who aims to be our governor, shares those affinities.  Brian’s an outdoorsman, too. 
Most mornings, on the way to work, I drive by the turn-off to his farm. I’ve witnessed him in action in our favorite country-store biscuit place.   Brian Kemp is comfortable with Georgians of every walk.  He understands people, and they feel comfortable reaching out to him. 
            I like his “Putting Georgia First” campaign platform.  Georgia can be proud of being repeatedly judged the nation’s best state in which to do business.  Atlanta is our state’s economic engine, but what about the communities more than 100 miles away from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport? Brian is proud of Georgia’s ranking, but he also understands that much of rural Georgia is hurting.  I trust his leadership to make a difference, especially with small businesses.
            As a grandfather of eight, I worry about gang violence in Georgia.  I am confident Brian has the backbone to stand up for the safety of our law-abiding citizens. I applaud his vision on education, health care and improving life for Georgia’s 10 million.
            I repeat: “I’ve never met a perfect politician.”
            Brian Kemp is not perfect, but neither are you or I. 
            I am more of an independent voter than anything else, but I admire Brian’s common-sense approach to issues that matter.  His core values are strong. I like his roll-up-your-sleeves-and-go-to-work attitude.  That’s why I’m voting for my friend, Brian Kemp.
            I hope you will consider doing the same.    



October 2, 2018

Last-minute impulse takes us back to mid-1960s

     By nature, I am a planner.  I keep a hefty to-do list while managing my old-school calendar.  I need that deadline discipline.  But then again, I can be impulsive.  That’s why I believe that if it wasn’t for the last minute, some of the best things would never happen.  Sept. 21 and the next two days are proof.
     On an impulse, I called Marcus Waters in Warner Robins.  “Let’s go to the football game,” I said.  “Remember, we beat Baxley 67-0 our senior year.  Let’s see what the Yellow Jackets can do this year.”
     In 1965, Marcus and Billy Cheshire were our quarterbacks.  Marcus went on to play at East Tennessee State.  The Seminoles gave Billy a Florida State scholarship. I got a free ride to the University of Georgia in the back seat of my parents’ Buick.
     Fifty-three years after hanging up our Jesup High cleats, Marcus and I were sitting on the 50-yard line watching Jackets in black beat up on Baxley, 38-7.  Two rows back was our team physician, 91-year-old Dr. Lanier Harrell.  Of those present, I believe he would have the second-longest streak of attendance.  In 1949, Doc started coaching with Ben Park. He’s been an icon of loyalty ever since.
     The probable first-place attendance award goes to a fan who sat behind Doc.  Born in April 1948, Patti Park was a tiny baby when her mother, Frances, started bringing her to games. Patti’s husband, Kenny Bryant, was on our 1965 team, too.  He and I were heavyweight guards, all 165 pounds each.  During halftime, Kenny, Marcus and I had a mini-reunion.

     Maybe it’s our ages.  We might not recall what we had for lunch last Friday.  But with the flip of a switch, we’re back remembering play-for-play the 1965 game against Dublin’s Fighting Irish.  The year before, we had our hearts crushed in Laurens County.  We were driving for the winning touchdown, but a red-zone penalty pushed us back and into defeat.
     Coaches Clint Madray and Ben Park had us pumped, ready for revenge our senior year.  I remember trotting through Jaycee Stadium’s gates.  Pregame electricity pulsed from both sets of stands.  A fog hovered over the turf, but it was gone by the time the final seconds clicked off the scoreboard: Jesup, 12, and Dublin, 0.
     Now back to Saturday before last.
     As Marcus; our teammate, Larry Brannen; and I were gearing up for the Georgia-Missouri kickoff, Marcus said, “I sure would like to see Harry Spell.”  With that impulse, I dialed Harry, aka “Foots.”  Within an hour, “Foots” was knocking on the door.  I can close my eyes and see Harry’s red—size 15—shoes churning around the track in the mile-relay race.   
     Over slabs of Alda Holland’s 10-layer chocolate cake, we kept an eye on the Bulldogs on TV, but the chatter was about 1964’s Coffee County game.  During halftime, Big Clint exploded over our sloppy play.  Roaring, he flung a cup of Coke.
     It soaked the back of Doc’s white shirt. 
     But the Jackets rediscovered their stingers.  Paul “Jet” Conner scooped up two second-half fumbles and lumbered to the end zone.  Penalties nullified Jet’s touchdowns, but the Jackets rode home winners.
     Sunday morning of our get-together was a winner, too.
     Larry, Marcus and I replayed our growing up in Jesup.  We may be 70ish, but only our memories are that old.  As we drove away, I thought, “Here’s to last-minute impulses. We couldn’t have planned this any better.”