COVINGTON - Former State Senator Mike Crotts announced Thursday that he will challenge incumbent John Douglas, R-Social Circle, in the race for Senate District 17.
The district covers all of Newton County as well as parts of Rockdale, Henry, Walton and Spalding counties.
Crotts served six terms in the Senate, during which he championed such controversial causes as making English the official state language and an amendment to ban same-sex marriages.
"As a veteran, a successful businessman and a proven conservative, I am optimistic about Georgia's future. As a state senator I will fight for the principles we believe in: limited government, low taxes and local control of local affairs," Crotts said.
If elected, Crotts said he will support the FairTax that would replace state income tax with a flat sales tax.
Crotts said the FairTax will boost the state's economy and job market by attracting businesses and industries.
A bill introduced by Crotts in 1995 to eliminate state sales tax was defeated.
Crotts also supports granting property tax exemptions for residents age 70 and older. The exemption would apply to the residence and up to 1 acre of property.
Crotts said this would ultimately save taxpayers money by allowing more elderly people to stay in their own homes rather than going to a nursing home paid for by MediCaid and being turned over as wards of the state.
The result would be a loss of $1,500 to $2,000 per tax bill rather than $50,000 to $100,000 per year in state funding, he said.
Crotts said he conducted a poll two years ago through Landmark Communications out of Duluth that showed that 87 percent of Georgians age 35 and under would support the measure.
More savings would come from adopting a "zero-based" budget, he said.
"Instead of encouraging department heads to spend more money to get more money, we need to operate on a zero-based budget where every one to two years, every department head must come back before a joint House-Senate committee to prove they need this money," he said.
Finally, Crotts said he would push for local control in education.
"You can't sit at the state capitol and legislate what a teacher does in the classroom," he said.
In 2006, Crotts was disqualified from running in the Republican primary after Newton County resident Steve Bray filed a complaint with the Secretary of State's Office challenging Crotts' residency.
Crotts stated in his Notice of Candidacy and Affidavit that he lived at a residence in Rockdale County, but Bray claimed he was really living in a home outside the district in McDonough.
After the judge's ruling and subsequent unsuccessful appeals, Crotts sought to prove his citizenship by voting in Rockdale County. He was later summoned for jury duty and paid for his service, he said.
"If I was not a resident, I do not believe that I nor my wife would have been allowed to vote or serve on jury duty. Citizens all over the district know that an activist judge overreached her authority by disregarding constitutional law, rather than upholding it," he said.
Crotts said he has purchased a house in Newton County and filed for homestead exemption in January.
Crotts is a realtor and insurance agent. He and his wife Phyllis have one son, Cale.
Crystal Tatum can be reached at email@example.com.