COVINGTON — Sharon Sawyer said she is the only candidate in the 113th state House race who can truly represent Newton County.
“We need somebody who lives in this county, someone who knows where Sharp Stadium is, who knows where the reservoir is, who knows our community, and who will see me at the local Kroger, at football games on Friday nights,” Sawyer said. “I’ll be able to get what we need for our county.”
Sawyer is one of three Democratic candidates who are vying to represent the 113th District, which is the new number of the district represented by incumbent Pam Dickerson, D-Conyers. Former state Rep. Toney Collins of Porterdale is also running in the July 31 primary. No Republicans qualified to run.
The new district includes the eastern portion of Rockdale County and the western portion of Newton County.
Sawyer and her husband, Forrest, are active in Newton County. They have served as foster parents and participate on a number of volunteer boards. The Sawyers host a local community radio program on WGFS 1430 AM radio called “Thy Brothers and Sisters Keeper,” are co-founders of the African American Historical Association of Newton County, and are active members of Early Hope Baptist Church in Covington. Sharon Sawyer also holds elective office in the Newton County Democratic Party.
“This new House District 113, I have lived in it for the past 25 years,” Sawyer said.
Sawyer said Newton County has had strong representation in the state Legislature in the past — with Don Ballard and Denny Dobbs, for example — and was better for it.
“My family and I, along with our many, many friends need and deserve representation at the state level in this newly formed district,” she said in a press release announcing her candidacy.
Sawyer said she wants to focus on finding productive ways to help Newton County develop in ways that retain the small town feel while still being poised to embrace the future.
“We want smart growth — not just growth,” she said. “We need to be able to grow progressively without tearing up our county. … We need to make sure our young people have the opportunity to live and work in Newton County — not get their education here and then leave the county. They need to be able to live and work in the same place.”
Fighting for women’s rights is another of Sawyer’s passions. She said she wants to work to close the wage gap between men and women in the workforce and to protect women’s health decisions.
“Nobody should dictate to you what you can do with your own body,” Sawyer said.
Furthermore, she is an advocate for protecting women in domestic violence situations.
“Domestic violence, it kills your spirit, kills your motivation, and too often, kills you physically, “ Sawyer said. “We need to make it easier for women to protect themselves.”
The key, she said, is education, which is the No. 1 concern she hears as she campaigns.
“People have education on their mind more than unemployment. They are worried about their kids’ future,” Sawyer said.
Sawyer said she wants to work with state and local leaders to find avenues to give youth who have run into trouble a second chance. She said this was part of her platform when she ran for the Newton County Board of Education in 2010.
Should she win the election, Sawyer said she expects one of the biggest challenges she will face in the Georgia General Assembly will be partisanship.
“We have got to come together to get anything done in this state and not follow the national trend where it’s all Democrat and all Republican,” she said.
Sawyer said the key is to reach out to people and learn what is important to them, which is something she has experience doing. While she was unsuccessful in her bid for BOE against board member Abigail Coggin, she said she garnered a significant portion of the vote in what she said is a heavily Republican district.
“You have learn everyone’s personality and learn what they stand for, one by one,” she said. “I think it has to be people reaching out to people and making that personal contact. You can’t just say, ‘I’m a Democrat and I’m going to do this.’”