Former planning director seeks seat
Randy Vinson first to announce run for District 5

COVINGTON - Former Newton County planning director Randy Vinson became the first candidate to announce his intention to run for the District 5 county commission seat Friday.

"I just am concerned about all the issues the county is facing in light of the homebuilding and mortgage crisis, which is only going to add another layer to these growth management issues we're already facing," said Vinson, who is running as a Democrat.

Vinson said his experience and knowledge of planning qualifies him to offer insight on how to deal with these problems.

"Because of my experience and my professional background as a town planner, I believe that we can accomplish growth in a graceful way ... I feel able to offer professional insight because of my training," he said. "I've been studying or planning or teaching or working on growth and development issues for the past 17 years, and it's that experience that I believe I could bring that will help guide our decision-making."

Vinson served as the county's planning director from 2000 to 2001. Prior to that, he was special projects coordinator for the county.

He currently is a town planner and project manager for development projects undertaken by The Arnold Fund, including Clark's Grove and Mount Pleasant.

This is Vinson's first foray into politics, and he said he did not intend to run if current District 5 Commissioner Monty Laster sought another term.

Laster announced this week that he will not run for re-election.

"Monty did an excellent job. His shoes are going to be hard to fill, but I'll promise to do my best to be as informed on the issues as Monty was," Vinson said.

Vinson grew up in Iowa and moved to Georgia in 1991 to attend graduate school.

He has a bachelor's degree in history from Morgan State University in Baltimore and a master's degree in landscape architecture from the University of Georgia.

He moved to Newton County in 1994.

Vinson serves on the board of directors for Smart Growth Newton County and is a past president of the Newton County Historical Society.

He has been married to Sara, a teacher at Montessori School of Covington, for 19 years. They have two children, Claire, 10, and Eli, 7.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.