House Candidates Outline Platforms
Three area residents who have qualified to seek election to the District 156 House seat formerly held by Greg Morris of Vidalia were asked to provide candidate profiles to The Advance. Morris resigned in March following his election to the State Transportation Board for the 12th Congressional District.
District 156 includes Montgomery and Toombs Counties, and portions of Appling and Jeff Davis Counties. The special election to fill the seat has been set for June 15. Early voting begins on May 24.
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Wright Gres, a writer from Appling County, has qualified as a Democrat. Gres grew up in Tampa, Florida, and graduated from the University of Florida. He and his wife, Dusty, moved to Vidalia when she became Director of the Ohoopee Regional Library System in 1990. They moved to Appling County in 1996. The Gres’s have one son and one granddaughter. Gres has worked in retail, and in a rental store. He was responsible for corporate identification and advertising for the five United Telecom operating telephone companies in Florida. Gres left the business world to work the coastal waterways as a tugboat captain, and as a marine coordinator in the film industry. Since his retirement, Gres has written two adventure novels. He was a founding board member of the Altamaha Riverkeeper, and an active volunteer and member of the board of the Vidalia Habitat for Humanity. He was a member of the Vidalia Kiwanis Club. Gres’s platform includes working toward offering area residents better jobs and adequate wages, to promote higher education through all training avenues available, affordable healthcare, and care for the environment. “Short term we should help to make it possible for those who want to work to work without their entire pay check going to take care of their children while they work. Long term, our population needs to be better educated for our country to compete on the world stage, and domestically,” Gres said.
“Also, I want a world where my granddaughter and her children can enjoy the beauties and wonder of a clean and healthy world. We are the custodians of our world and we can do better.” Regarding his qualifications, Gres said, “Our founding fathers envisioned citizen legislators. My background has been broad and varied, including small business laborer, manager and owner, and time in Corporate America. Simply being one thing is inadequate. I believe the biggest thing is a willingness to listen and learn, to work with people to find solutions where there are real problems.” “I want all of us to feel safe in our society. I want every one of us to be assured of equal and impartial justice under the law. I would like to be able to move us closer to a place where our government works for all of us.”
Leesa Hagan, who has qualified as a Republican, was born and raised in Georgia and earned a BS in Education from the University of Georgia. Married to Mike Hagan, a seventh generation Toombs Countian, the couple has two teenage sons. Hagan is a small business owner and a volunteer serving in several positions with the Boy Scouts for 12 years. She has taught public, private, and home school for 13 years. The Hagans are members of Grace Community Presbyterian Church in Lyons.
As Chairman of the Toombs County Republican Party from 2019 to 2021, Hagan has quadrupled the party’s active membership over that time and has served as a delegate to district and state Republican conventions for several years. Hagan gained first-hand experience in the election process by organizing and leading 2020 election monitoring including the General Election, audit, recount, early voting, Voter Review Panels, and Senate runoff election.
Hagan’s platform is to protect Georgians from big government liberals in Washington, D.C., to continue election reform, grow Georgia’s rural economy, and defend our Constitutional Rights.
Regarding these points, Hagan said, “We’ve already seen many new regulations, executive orders, and proposed bills that contradict South Georgia values and our way of life. I will work to make sure that Georgian’s rights are secure. Also, I am pro-life. I will vigorously defend the Second Amendment. I will protect our religious liberty. As a conservative Christian, these are nonnegotiable.”
“I thank our legislators in the State House and Senate for their hard work to pass The Election Integrity Act of 2021 (SB 202) into law. I thank Governor Kemp for signing it and for defending it to the media and corporations who would overstep their boundaries and insert themselves into the peoples’ business. However, there is more that must be done.
“Being a small business owner myself, I know that businesses thrive when we have low taxes and sensible regulations. I will advocate for conservative policies that will keep Georgia one of the top states in the nation in which to do business. This includes joining the push for the expansion of broadband access in rural Georgia.”
Hagan’s decision to run is “because I’m concerned about the future of Georgia and our country. Our children and grandchildren face an uncertain future, and I will be a steady voice in Atlanta to represent the 156th district to make sure our South Georgia values are upheld.”
“Because of my involvement in the Republican party, I have formed relationships with local and state elected officials that will enable me to immediately get to work for the people of our district. Election integrity and making sure we can trust the electoral process in Georgia is at the forefront of most of our minds. My experience in the 2020 election cycle as the Chairman of our local Republican party has given me the insight and knowledge for how the process is supposed to work so that I can continue much-needed reform.”
Wally Sapp, also qualifying as a Republican, is a small business owner from Baxley. Sapp did not respond to requests from The Advance before deadline.
From his website, wallysapp. com, Sapp’s platform is: to fight for workers, not corporations and special interests; he is 100% Pro-God, Pro-life, and Pro-Trump; to ensure our tax dollars are spent here, not Atlanta; to stand up to Cancel Culture and the Hollywood Elite; defend the Second Amendment from ANY infringement.
Sapp says, “I’m a proud South Georgia conservative. If elected, I’ll make sure this community has a voice in Atlanta. And you have my word I’ll never forget who I represent or what I stand for.”