COVINGTON - Lifelong Newton County resident Andre Cooper has joined the race for District 3 county commissioner, qualifying on the Democratic ticket this week.
Cooper said he had been considering a bid for public office for a while because he wants to give back to his hometown.
If elected, Cooper said one priority will be finding solutions to the county's traffic woes.
"I don't have a solution at the moment, but I would like to work to see if I could find a solution by using my engineering and planning background," he said.
A former Covington police officer and D.A.R.E. officer, Cooper said he recognizes the need for more recreation and positive programs for youth.
"I know the youth need something to do like youth programs and maybe parks. We've got to give kids something positive to do because there are a lot of negative things they can get into," he said.
Cooper is a graduate of Newton High School. Following graduation, he took classes in engineering at Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, where he is studying architecture.
Cooper was a police officer for 10 years before taking an engineering job with the Georgia Department of Corrections.
He is a deacon at Pleasantview Baptist Church, where he works with the youth group.
Cooper and his wife, Cynthia, have a 4-year-old daughter, Mittia.
Though this is his first foray into politics, Cooper said what he lacks in experience he makes up for in enthusiasm.
"I know I'm new to politics, but I have a lot of ideas I'd like to put in place in Newton County. I am a go-getter. I like to see things put in place and executed. I believe in doing things right and doing them for the right reasons," he said.
Cooper will face Democrat Nancy Schulz in the July 15 primary.
Matthew Eason and Keith Mitcham will run on the Republican ticket.
Crystal Tatum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.