COVINGTON -- Local business owner Lanier Sims knows what will be his first priority if elected to the District 2 Board of Commissioners seat: getting public input.
"A lot of people in our area complain that they don't see our commissioner," Sims said. "A lot of people have asked me to run. I think he should be out in the community more, and at least be seen. A lot of people just want to be heard."
Sims will face incumbent Earnest Simmons in the July primary. Rickie Corley is the only Republican who has announced for the seat. Qualifying takes place April 26 to 30.
Sims, who is running as a Democrat, said he decided to run for office to make sure the people of his district have a voice that's being heard at the government level. If elected, Sims said he will host monthly or quarterly informal meetings with residents to hear their concerns, get their feedback and inform them of what's going on in the county. Sims said he'd like to hold the meetings at local restaurants to help boost their revenues.
Helping local businesses and bringing more businesses and restaurants into the community is another of his goals. He said too much money is being lost to surrounding counties.
"We're not going to get those restaurants to come unless we get alcohol by the drink," Sims said. "I support it but with a lot of stipulations. I don't want a bar on every corner. That's not the reason for it. The reason is to get restaurants in here like Ruby Tuesday."
Sims said he knows it's a controversial issue, but it could relieve some of the property tax burden on residents.
Sims said he'd also like to work to relieve traffic congestion, particularly at Ga. Highway 81 and the Covington ByPass and Ga. Highway 212 and Oak Hill Road intersections and on Salem Road.
"Our whole area needs some help," he said, but added there are no quick fixes given current funding shortfalls.
Sims said he would also concentrate on increasing safety in the district, potentially by increasing law enforcement presence and opening a precinct when funds are available.
Finally, he would like to host adult education seminars at the branch library under construction to teach basic skills like how to balance a checkbook and write a resume.
A Newton native, Sims attended Newton County public schools and graduated from Newton County High School in 1993. He enlisted in the Navy and served aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln CVN-72. He earned a bachelor of science in business administration from DeVry University.
Sims opened his own business in 1996. He is the president of Sims Excavating Inc. and a manager for Southern Homes Unlimited LLC, a company that specializes in solving real estate problems and has assisted Newton residents in avoiding losing their homes due to foreclosure.
Sims serves on the Newton County Planning Commission. He is a member of Rotary Club of Covington and serves on the World Community Service Project and the fundraising board. He serves on the Covington Miracle League Building Committee, which is overseeing the construction of baseball fields that will be utilized by children with special needs.
He has a wife, Bionca.