COVINGTON - Ed Hutter is aiming high in his first foray into politics: He has announced that he will run for Board of Commissioners chairman on the Republican ticket in the July 15 primary.
"I never dreamed I would be a politician," said Hutter, an engineer and developer.
But his increasing concerns about the future of the county prompted him to step forward.
"I'm very concerned about this issue of growth and water and infrastructure and impact fees and all the things happening in Newton County right now. I see ways we can do things much, much better," Hutter said.
If elected, Hutter said he'll work to find ways to balance the county's tax base.
"I want to try to balance growth in the county. We need some upscale residential, we need some economic base. We're very, very lopsided to the residential side," he said.
Hutter said he also wants to grow the local job base.
The county needs to develop a "sales team" to go out and recruit industries and retail, Hutter said.
With his engineering background, Hutter has worked with several Fortune 500 companies around the country on new developments and construction.
"As a result of that, I've met with a lot of municipalities, their planning and zoning people and development people ... I've worked in every state in the U.S. I've worked in big cities within the U.S. I've worked in little, small rural communities, so I think I have a good vision as to what can happen, and I feel like I have the inside track on what we need to do to make some of these things happen," he said. "I have contacts with people who do employing. I'm not going to tell you I can influence these people to come to Newton County, but I do have those contacts."
Another priority for Hutter is to investigate why construction on the Bear Creek Reservoir is not yet under way.
"I'm concerned about why we are not any farther along," he said.
Hutter said he can relate to the financial struggles of residents and believes the county should explore ways to alleviate the burden on senior citizens.
"I own a small farm out in the northeast quadrant of the county and I know what my taxes are and what it takes," he said.
Hutter, 63, moved from South Carolina to Georgia in 1969. He lived in DeKalb, Wilkes and Greene counties before settling in Newton in the early 1990s.
He owns an engineering contract company, Hutter and Associates, and a development company, Integral Enterprises, both based in Newton County.
Hutter and his wife, Carol, have four children and two grandchildren.
Hutter is an active member of First United Methodist Church, a volunteer with FaithWorks and a member of the Kiwanis Club of Covington.
He also serves on the Career, Technical and Agricultural Education and Business Education committees for the Newton County School System.
Republican incumbent Aaron Varner said he intends to run for re-election and will make a formal announcement later this week.
The winner of the Republican primary will earn a spot on the Nov. 4 General Election ballot.
Crystal Tatum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.