CONYERS -- Republican Brad Smith announced Wednesday he is dropping out of the race for Rockdale County chairman and will instead focus on a re-election bid for his seat on the county's school board.
Smith released a statement after news broke that former county commissioner Jason Hill intends to enter the race for chairman. Hill told the Citizen he will make his official announcement during Saturday's Constitution Day celebration at Pine Log Park in Conyers.
"After due consideration, I have determined that I can offer more value in a non-partisan position on the school Board (a position that I will seek again in the 2012 General Election) than as the Republican nominee for the office of chairman of the Board of Commissioners," Smith wrote in a statement emailed to the Citizen.
Smith, a 30-year Rockdale County resident, relocated from Detroit. In 2008, Smith was elected to a four-year term on the Rockdale County Board of Education.
Smith added that "destructive partisanship" among the local Democrats and Republicans also turned him away from making a run for the county's highest office in 2012.
"I have no interest in pandering to either party in a bid to be elected to any office," Smith said in the statement. "As a centrist Republican, I could not in good conscience adopt some of the views I've heard loudly voiced among the Republican Party leadership in our county, nor could I fathom running as a Democrat for similar reasons."
He added: "I am proud to be part of one of the best school systems in the State and wish to continue contributing to the betterment of our community in that way. I wish the best of luck to anyone who is or may be considering running for the Republican nomination for chairman of the Rockdale BOC.
Smith's decision leaves Hill and community activist Ed Conway in the 2012 Republican Primary Election.
Incumbent Commission Chairman Richard Oden is seeking re-election to a second term and currently faces local businessman Brian Jenkins in the Democratic Primary Election.