Joyce Thomas to seek District 5 seat
By Kathryn Purcell
Morgan County resident Joyce Thomas last week announced her qualification and intention to run for the District Five seat on the Board of Commissioners left vacant by her late husband, Chester Thomas.
A reason for her desire to run for the District Five seat, Thomas expressed her wish to complete her husband's term on the Board of Commissioners.
"Chester loved being a county commissioner," Thomas said. "He described the experience as 'fascinating.' One of the sad things about his passing has been that he did not get to finish his term. I, too, find the job interesting, and though I am not he, I have many of the same philosophies and beliefs that he had. Therefore, I would like to do this for him and for the people of this district."
Thomas is a long-time resident of Morgan County and a 1998 retiree of the Morgan County School System, where she spent 24 of her 30 years teaching and was once named Morgan County Primary School's Teacher of the Year. She holds a bachelor's degree from Georgia State College and University as well as a master's degree from Peabody College.
Thomas believes that her time teaching will serve her well, should she become part of the Board of Commissioners.
"I worked in this county for 24 years as a teacher, and I met many people and learned many things about Morgan County," Thomas said. "Teaching gives one a chance to meet a cross-section of our population, which is very good. Also, during the years that I taught, teachers were given opportunities to work together as a team, so that we could share ideas, help in problem solving and capitalize on each other's strengths. This spirit of cooperation has helped me learn that 'give-and-take' often produces the best results."
Thomas has also seen, first-hand, the experience of a county commissioner. And, based on what she has seen of her husband's experience, she believes she is up for the challenge.
"I was the wife of a county commissioner for more than seven years," Thomas said. "From this, I have learned that many projects and situations need a great deal of time and thought before an actual vote is taken. I have learned that when someone calls with a problem that the county can immediately solve, there are people hired by the county who are available to help and a commissioner can help that person know what to do. And I have learned that county government and county commissioners have a number of rules and policies that are set by the state, and the rules must be carefully followed."
In regards to the county's growth, Thomas feels that the most responsible route involves the Land Use Plan.
"I would say that following the Comprehensive Land Use Plan, which took a number of years to develop, would be the single most important action," Thomas said. "This plan allows growth in appropriate areas and keeps many areas preserved for green space."
And, as far as tax dollars, Thomas feels that the county's infrastructure and emergency services should be priorities.
"When the budget, which takes a good bit of time to develop, is being drawn up, one of the first items is roads and bridges, or infrastructure," Thomas said. "Safety is paramount, so county maintenance of roads and bridges is top priority. Closely aligned with this is the important emergency response and fire department, which save lives every year and perform many heroic deeds."
Thomas also considers Animal Control and the library as important recipients of tax dollars.
"I think it is extremely important that government officials use tax money very wisely, eliminate any wasted money and act fiscally responsible for the people of the county," Thomas said.
Personally, Thomas feels that she excels at hearing all sides of a story, and, being retired, cites the fact that she has time to carefully read over and consider issues that come before the Board of Commissioners.
"I have...observed, first-hand, during my husband's last seven years as county commissioner, that this job takes a good deal of time to really study and learn about the issues," Thomas said. "Because I am retired, I know that I do have time to give a lot of thought to the issues we will face. I also consider myself a good listener, and I believe strongly in listening to people who voice their concerns or ideas. That, of course, is what representative government is all about...I can listen to different sides of an issue and consider the good and bad features of a situation in order to make intelligent decisions."
Thomas is running for the District Five seat as a democratic candidate.
Currently president of the Morgan County Retired Educators Association, Thomas is also a member of the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center, the Steffen Thomas Museum, the Morgan County Historical Society, the Morgan County African-American Museum, the local Friends of the Library, the Madison-Morgan Conservancy and, being a horse-riding enthusiast, the Kel-Mac Saddle Club and the Chattahoochee Trail Riders Association. She has served as a poll official and manager during elections in Morgan County. She is a member of the Delta Kappa Gamma, an honorary teachers' sorority.
Thomas has two children - Dr. Lynda Bacon, a veterinarian in Gwinnett County, and Chet Thomas, a minister in Flagler Beach, Fla. - and four grandchildren. She is a member of Madison Baptist Church.