COVINGTON -- Since moving to Newton in 2004, Jared Rutberg has stayed involved in the community. Now, he's ready to take that involvement to the next level and is running as a Republican for the District 5 seat on the Board of Commissioners.
Rutberg said if elected, he won't vote to raise taxes; in fact, he wants to see the millage rate drop back down to 9.73 mils, where it remained for the better part of a decade before an increase a couple of years ago. The way to do that, he said, is to have a more balanced tax digest, and that means recruiting more industry and business. Rutberg said he is in favor of a request by the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce to double its economic development budget.
"They've already proven what they can do on a shoe-string budget," he said, noting that the Chamber's request for $250,000 represents about .2 percent of the county budget. The request is not included in the budget that will be voted on by commissioners on June 19. Rutberg said such expenditures should be viewed as an investment.
"It's easy to say no. Anybody can say no, because you don't have to think to say no," he said. "If you say yes, you have to do the work."
When it comes to economic development and offering incentives, "We want to give as little as we have to, but as much as we need to to get a long-term return on our investment," he said.
Jobs are another key issue for Rutberg, and that ties right back in with attracting more industrial and commercial development, he said. More jobs would also improve the sense of community and prevent so many residents from traveling out of town to work, he said.
Rutberg said before voting on a budget, he'd visit the various departments and get educated on what it takes for them to operate.
"I don't think it's fair to say this department needs to cut 10 percent when I don't know what they're going through," he said.
He also said he would be in favor of approving standards to control quality of future commercial growth and residential growth.
"We had out of control growth and it went unchecked for a number of years," he said.
Rutberg, 39, grew up in Atlantic Highlands, N.J., and earned a bachelor of science degree in physical education from Springfield College in Massachusetts.
He was in the Army Reserves during college and after graduating was commissioned as an officer and went on active duty for the next 8.5 years. In the Army, he was a Black Hawk helicopter pilot and commanded two companies, one in Korea, and the other at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Rutberg served in Afghanistan in 2002. He was awarded the Bronze Star and several other medals while in service.
He moved to Newton in 2004 and went to work for Acuity Brands, where he won the Chairman's Award his first year on the job for helping the company save $1.8 million in eight weeks' time through process improvement.
Rutberg owns three local businesses: JRJ Construction; Kwik Change Lube and Service Center; and Covington Pro Lube.
He is a member of the Covington Airport Authority; chair of the Career, Technology and Agriculture Education Advisory Board under the Newton County School System; a member of the Chamber of Commerce; a youth sports volunteer coach; and the former president of the Newton County Home Builder's Association.
Rutberg and his wife Jennifer have three sons, Kyle, Connor and Cameron.
"Based on my experience as a small business owner in Newton County, a parent and a community leader and veteran, I think people can related to many aspects of my life, and I've got a proven record of success and a record of involvement in this community," he said.
Rutberg encouraged residents to learn more about him and contact him via Facebook at www.facebook.com/rutbergdistrict5; Twitter at @jaredrutberg; email at firstname.lastname@example.org; or phone at 678-361-5946.
Rutberg faces Levie Maddox, Ronnie Dimsdale and Wesley Dowdy in the July 31 Republican Primary.