Thomas Bell wants District 5 seat back
By Kathryn Purcell
Buckhead native Thomas Hardwick Bell, who held the District Five Commission seat prior to the late Chester Thomas, is again seeking the position, qualifying to run for the District Five seat.
"I chose to run for Commissioner, District Five, because of my conviction that the protection of our liberty, life and property should be a major issue in local government as well as state and federal," Bell said.
Bell owns and works on Lomah Dairy, a dairy located south of Buckhead, formerly owned by his uncle, Curtis Bell.
Bell is a 1986 graduate of the Morgan County School System and, shortly after graduation, joined the United States Marine Corps, according to information provided. He served four years of active duty, and was later re-activated during Desert Storm to facilitate cold weather training and survival to reservists.
Through serving with the Marine Corps, Bell returned to Morgan County, where he worked with his mother and father, Margaret and Charles T. Bell, on their dairy farm, also attending college.
Bell studied Industrial Maintenance at Athens Tech while, at the same time, volunteering at the Buckhead Fire Station and participating in the local chapter of Farm Bureau.
Bell served as commissioner for District Five in the late 1990s, also taking part in the Northeast Georgia Solid Waste Committee, among other local government organizations, according to information provided. Bell resigned his post in 2000 after a decision to relocate to Utah, moving back to Morgan County in 2003.
Bell feels that his previous experience on the Board of Commissioners, as well as his Marine Corps experience, will serve him well in vying for the District Five seat.
"First of all, my previous term as an elected county commissioner in Morgan County lends itself to the needed experience in a complex environment that local government has become," Thomas said. "The opportunity to have looked back at mistakes made and a lesson learned is a great benefit. My experience is the Marine Corps and the different leadership courses has helped me to become a better person and leader. Having lived in a different place also brings new ideas and visions."
When it comes to decisions about growth in Morgan County, Bell feels that some people may get ahead of themselves.
"There are people who think they know all the answers about developing a county - how far you should live from your job, how big your backyard should be, how cities and the county should grow," Bell said. "If we are not careful, we have unaffordable housing, more congestion and increased crime. I believe we need movers and shakers in Planning and Zoning. The need's not to turn over issues to a large Planning bureaucracy rather than make decisions and take the heat. Whether zoning developments or determining how much agriculture you have in a long-range plan, local planners are trying to simplify from complex problems. Inevitably, the focus on one or two resources, fall prey to planning fads and succumb to pressure from interest groups. We need to be capable of managing the future market forces as well as of a plan defendable in our courts. I would propose looking into reform that could help solve issues without heavy-handed government regulations."
Growth often involves industry, and while the recruitment of such is of importance, Bell said, concessions given to industry won't help the area.
Being an area involved in growth, tax dollars should be spent improving services provided to the general public, according to Bell.
"As a growing county, it is imperative that we look at public services," Bell said. "With more houses, the importance of roads, water and sewage must not get behind the speed of development. We must not allow developers to put these types of improvements on the backs of other taxpayers. This should be their responsibility. Fire, police, medical, jails, solid waste and recycling are tremendously important as well in a growing community."
Bell, a Republican candidate for the District Five seat, was recently elected to the Morgan County Farm Bureau Board of Directors.
He and his wife, Leigh Anne, also of Morgan County, have three daughters - Allison, Ammie and Alyssa.
Bell and his family attend New Hope Baptist Church in Greshamville.
"Most of my life has been in Morgan County," Bell said, of his decision to run for the District Five seat.
"I would like it to remain a beautiful county, full of diversity. It is a pleasure to be part of such a place, so I have chosen to be as active in its future as possible."