Candidates’ Responses to Questionnaire
1. Please tell the readers about yourself (education, family, career, affiliations, etc.)
2. Why are you seeking
office? 3. What experience or leadership qualifications do you have which prepare you to serve in the office you are seeking? 4. How will you work with other officials and the community to improve the quality of life in the area you will be representing 5. If elected to office, what are your immediate goals?
6. Why should the voters elect you to office?
Georgia Senate District 19 Sen. Blake Tillery, R, D-19 1. I grew up here in Toombs County. My mom and dad, Mike and Vicki Tillery, moved down in the early 80s when my dad was transferred to work at Plant Hatch. My brothers, Carson, Jonathan, and Eric, and I went to school here and I graduated from Vidalia High in 2002. I went to UGA, came back with a law degree and have been working in Vidalia since 2010.
2. I first ran for office because I wanted to see our community prosper. I didn’t mind tackling difficult issues and realized if we weren’t dealing with problems as they arose, they’d be too big to resolve in the future. As our community tackled major tasks, it became more clear to me that rather than tackling issues as they arose, we’d be even better off if we could see the issues coming at us and tackle them before they became issues at all.
3. I’ve served in local office for four years and in the State Senate for six. I understand how to get work done at the state level to benefit our local community.
4. I think this is likely the area where I most excel. I’m not bashful about explaining where the state can help and where we can’t. First, let it be noted the state cannot help local communities unwilling to help themselves, but where local communities are willing to put time, effort, and funds in the game to help themselves, I think most local officials and communities have found me to be a more than willing and capable partner.
5. I will continue to focus on infrastructure improvements in our community – cell signal, broadband, natural gas supply, and workforce development. I will also focus on parental involvement in schools and 3rd grade reading levels we’ve seen this statistic directly impact crime statistics.
Locally, we have a growing homeless community. The reasons are many. We also have a workforce shortage. It is not an easy task, but I can’t help but think these two issues could potentially be resolved together.
6. If past work is any indication of future results, I hope I’ve proven myself over my past decade of public service and I look forward to continuing to serve our community. Michael “Buckle” Moore, a Democrat who qualified to seek the Senate, D-19 post, did not respond to The Advance regarding the questionnaire. Georgia House District 156 Rep. Leesa Hagan, R-Lyons 1. I was born and raised a Georgian. My husband, Mike, and I have two college- aged sons. I attended the University of Georgia and earned a Bachelor of Education degree. I was a classroom teacher for 8 years and home schooled my two sons for 5 years.
2. I first ran for Representative in 2021 because I love my community and my state, particularly rural Georgia. It’s important to me that our young people have the opportunity to live, work, and raise families in the town where they grew up. I want my kids and yours to be able to live here and be good neighbors to the people they’ve known all their lives. The 156th district is struggling like the rest of rural Georgia to keep up with Atlanta and other metro areas. With strong, forward-thinking leadership at the local and state level, we are moving in right direction. We’ve got to keep pushing though, and I’m running again so I can continue to be a part of that.
3. As the incumbent in this election, I represented the citizens of the 156th district faithfully for the past year. Currently, I serve on the House Agriculture Committee, the Natural Resources Committee, and the Small Business Development Committee. These are extremely important to our part of the state, and I’m proud to be one of the House members contributing to the shaping of bills that impact our largest industries of agriculture and forestry. This summer, I had the privilege of being selected for the SLLF’s Emerging Legislative Leaders program. Fifty new legislators from 45 states were chosen to learn leadership skills to make us more effective for our constituents. Finally, my experiences as a mother, classroom teacher, small business owner, and leader in our local Republican party have also added to my ability to work with others in a collaborative and productive way.
4. My track record of working with local officials and community leaders to improve the quality of life in the 156th is already established. A few examples include: a. I work with the Chambers of Commerce, particularly the Greater Vidalia and Fitzgerald Ben Hill Chambers, to plan and implement innovative ways to grow our local economies and promote small businesses and entrepreneurship. As a legislator, I’ve been recognized by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce for my support of businesses with their endorsement in this election. b. One of the biggest issues we tackled in the last General Assembly session was that of mental health and substance abuse disorders. Our community is blessed with many people who understand the struggles that some of our neighbors face and are working hard to provide programs and support for those who need it. I will continue to work to make sure the state comes alongside these local groups when appropriate to provide the funding and resources necessary. c. As a former teacher, I know how important literacy is to future success and happiness. This summer, I’ve been working with Senator Billy Hickman to organize meetings with our RESAs (Regional Education Service Agencies) and local school superintendents. We want to understand how we as a legislature can better support our teachers to ensure we get our students reading on grade level. I am taking what I’ve learned to my colleagues in the House to form policies that will benefit all our students.
5. I have two priorities as your Representative: strengthening the rural Georgia economy and policies that support Georgia families. If reelected, I look forward to continuing to work with Republican leadership in the General Assembly and Governor Kemp to fight for the pro-Georgia, pro-family agenda.
6. I am asking for voters to reelect me as their Representative so I can continue to be their voice in Atlanta. I have a track record of voting for common sense, conservative legislation that supports Georgia families and the rural Georgia economy. It would be an honor to serve you for two more years. Lethia Kittrell, Democrat, Fitzgerald 1. I was born and raised by my parents, the Rev. Herbert L. Jones Sr. and Mrs. Angeline Gillis Jones of Fitzgerald, Georgia. I am a licensed minister who worked over 12 years alongside my father as Associate Pastor and served as Interim Pastor of Fairview Missionary Baptist Church, Fitzgerald, upon his death. I am Co-founder and former CEO of Fitzgerald for Change Community Outreach Incorporated, Founder and CEO of Fitzgerald Community Change in Action, Inc., and former COO of 1st Community Faith In Action, Inc. I am a graduate of Clark Atlanta University with a bachelor’s degree in Social Services with major studies in Pre-law and Journalism. I am happily married to Lee Manuel Kittrell, proud mother of LeManuel Keane and Leigh Angenette Kittrell, and loving grandmother (Gigi) of Tristan and Trinity Smith.
2. I am running for office to ensure representation for all throughout my district. I understand the needs of my district.
3. My professional career can be summed as over 35 years in community service, as a corporate trainer, an instructor in Severely Emotional Behavior Disordered and Adult Education environments, over 30 years in small business ownership and projects management, grant writing, research and development, and Christian ministry. I have served as Director of Grants Administration for several nonprofit organizations and have worked as a vocational Instructor and communitybased vocational liaison between school and community for over 25 years. I have served as director over several regional and community- wide programs, activities, and events. I am the small business owner of Jones Insurance and Tax Services, LLC, where I specialize in a variety of financial services.
4. I will work across the aisles with anyone who is willing to work with me for the benefit of my District. I believe that in order to improve the quality of life in our area that I, along with our public officials, families, and key stakeholders in District communities should work together to devise a plan to help improve the community.
5. My immediate goal is to get to work improving the lives of families in my District by working on workforce sustainability that builds pathways out of poverty, upskills our labor force and provides job security for those facing obstacles, as well as create new jobs ensuring the pay they need.
6. Because, I am the change that we need and deserve. My life experiences through God have prepared me for this moment, and I have the heart to do what needs to be done to ensure our District's needs are met. I am the best candidate for the job.