COVINGTON — Morgan County resident Dave Belton, who has now been campaigning for the District 112 seat in the Georgia House of Representatives for the last three months, is confident voters will find favor with his considerable experience in the military, the private sector and in public education and community service.
Belton is one of three Republicans vying to succeed former state Rep. Doug Holt, who announced in December that he would not seek a sixth consecutive term in the Legislature. Belton, who lives in the Morgan County town of Buckhead, is running against Aaron Brooks and Ester Fleming in the May 20 primary.
“The campaign is going really well,” Belton, a longtime member of the Morgan County Board of Education and vice chair of the county’s Republican Party, said. “People like my message of ‘We can’t let Conyers happen here’ and they also like the fact that I’m a 23-year military veteran and I’ve fought in five different conflicts. They respect that …. The military gives you some spine and it gives you an attitude of ‘We’ve got to get this done.’ People appreciate that.”
When asked to elaborate on the “Conyers” aspect of his message, Belton – who served as a Navy and Air Force pilot – spoke of “horrible growth.”
“They have vinyl-on-slab, crackerjack houses of very poor construction and subdivision on top of subdivision,” Belton, now an international pilot for Delta Air Lines, said. “We want to preserve our charming way of life. The way you do that is to make sure you have quality growth. We have to protect our strict zoning. We want our community to be a jewel, not a mess like it is over in Conyers.”
In the big picture, Belton wants the district — which includes all of Morgan County and a portion of Newton County — to be the kind of place his children will want to return to after attending college.
“I want our children to have quality jobs so they can raise their children back here, back home,” the father of three said, adding that education — particularly of the vocational kind — is paramount in attracting good jobs to the area.
“The way to (attract jobs) is through quality technical education that makes our children uniquely qualified to do the high-tech, biomed jobs that are coming,” Belton said. “We’ve got Baxter with 1,500 jobs, but we’re hearing our kids aren’t going to get those jobs because they’re not qualified. I want our kids to get those jobs. We need a quality workforce and vocational-technical education is part of the puzzle.”
When asked if he saw the Georgia General Assembly as a broken body sorely in need of reining in or a well-operated consortium of thoughtful lawmakers doing good work, Belton said, “In general, the Legislature is run well. There are things I have issues with. In the Georgia General Assembly, we have a balanced budget and we haven’t raised taxes in many years. I think they do a good job.”
Belton understands that the “junior” status he’ll possess in the Georgia House won’t make for a great deal of tangible productivity, but he’s adamant that he’ll be active, both in Atlanta and at home.
“I’m not a place-keeper,” he said. “I plan to go up there and do things. I’m a pilot and my job is to get the airplane from one place to another. It’s a mission-oriented job. You get things accomplished. I think the General Assembly is doing a pretty good job and I don’t plan to go there and be a place-keeper. I want to improve things in the lives of Georgians.”
As to what sets him apart from his opponents. Belton said, “I want to stay positive. I hope people will look at our accomplishments. I’ve had a lifetime of service and I’ve been a Christian all my life. I’ve served in the military for 23 years and I’ve fought in five different conflicts. I’ve been involved in PTA, band booster president, concerned citizen, finance chair of the (Morgan County) Republican Party for seven years. I’ve written three books, teenage novels, about the power of literacy and female empowerment. I go to work in an orphanage in Peru every year.
“I just think I’m a more well-rounded person. I communicate a lot. I write all the time. You’ll never have to guess what Dave Belton is thinking. I will be telling my constituents on a monthly basis, at least, what I am thinking. I’m also a very good listener. I’ve lived in four different countries and have visited over 50 countries, and I’m fascinated by other cultures. I do a good job of listening to people and hearing their concerns. I think I have a bigger body of work.”
For more information, visit DaveBelton.com.
Chris Starrs is a freelance writer based in Athens. To contact him, email email@example.com