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Local farmer running for commission

COVINGTON - Farmer Keith Mitcham is running as a Republican in the District 3 Board of Commissioners race.

Mitcham, a fifth generation Newton County resident who owns Mitcham Cattle Company in Oxford, said if he's elected, he will work on preserving the county's "small-town character."

"I'm not against growth," Mitcham said. "With I-20 here and the number of colleges, Newton County has no problem attracting people. Developments are going to come, and it's needed to attract or ensure a workforce. I want to give incentives for people to keep land and farmland and greenspace."

To that end, Mitcham said he supports transferable development rights, in which development rights from one parcel of land are sold for use on another parcel. The county is studying whether TDRs should be implemented locally.

Mitcham said he does not support Democratic candidate Jimmy Clark's proposal to decrease minimum house and lot sizes and would not support any efforts to reduce waterway setbacks.

Mitcham said he will also focus on finding traffic relief for residents in the western part of Newton County. This is his first foray into politics.

"It's something that I've always wanted to do, but I wasn't expecting to do it this early in life," he said, adding that he decided to enter the race when incumbent Ester Fleming announced he would not seek re-election.

"I may not be the most experienced in it, but I really have the passion to keep Newton County with that small-town feel," he said.

Mitcham, a graduate of Newton High School, owns a farm in Oxford that is a holding site for stocker cattle and hosts Colonel Cob's Corn Maze each fall.

In addition, Mitcham and his wife, Sandi, own M 2 Monogramming.

Mitcham is a member of the board of directors and is the legislative chairman for the Newton County Farm Bureau.

He recently traveled to Washington D.C., where he discussed issues affecting agriculture with leaders such as Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.

Mitcham was the 2004 winner of the Young Farmer's Achievement Award from the Georgia Farm Bureau and is a past president of Piedmont Cattleman's Association.

Mitcham is a member of Oxford Baptist Church and has two children.

So far, Mitcham is the only Republican to announce for the seat. In addition to Clark, Nancy Schulz is running on the Democratic ticket.

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