Former chairman Rita Rainwater is challenging current chairman Tom Worthan in the July 31 GOP primary for the county government’s top elected job. The GOP primary winner will face Democrat Romona Jackson Jones on Nov. 6.
Rainwater held the office from 1992 to 2004.
“I’ve just seen the roads deteriorate, the fire department deteriorate,” she said. “I want to bring the people back into (government).”
During her 12 years as county chairman, she said, she cut the millage rate in half from when she took office in 1992. The county also built its current courthouse on Hospital Drive; the Woodie Fite Senior Center; the Boundary Waters Aquatic Center in east Douglas; and two fire stations during her tenure, Rainwater said.
She also served as Meriwether County administrator — the top staff job — in 2010 and 2011.
Worthan noted he has served as a county commissioner, state representative and commission chairman through the past three decades.
Douglas County built three fire stations, a new 911/Emergency Operations Center and the new Dog River Library; and opened the new Lithia Springs Recreational Park and revamped Woodrow Wilson Park during his two terms, he said.
He said he’s led the county “through the worst drought in our history, the greatest flood in our history, and the worst economic depression in our lifetime.”
“In the past eight years, our county has gone from out-of-control and unmanageable growth to stability with quality development,” he said. “We are no longer a community of almost exclusively starter homes as was the case when I took office, but a community of higher quality homes and commercial development.
“Financially, we are in better shape than almost any county in the nation because we have been fiscally conservative. The only short-term debt we have will be paid off in November 2013. Our employee pension plan is fully funded. We have a reserve fund to handle emergency situations.”
The reserve fund kept the county government “viable during the September 2009 floods,” he said. The water system was damaged, and at least 178 roads and bridges were damaged or washed out “and the repairs were up to us,” he said.
“(The Federal Emergency Management Agency) only reimburses a percentage of costs and it sometimes takes years to get these funds,” he said. “Conservative fiscal leadership made the difference.”