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Candidates in commission race tout platforms

By Valerie Baldowski

vbaldowski@henryherald.com

While voters will go to the polls in Henry County's District II in November, to pick a commissioner during a non-partisan special election, those in District V will be choosing between a Democrat and a Republican.

The District V Henry County Commission seat held by Johnny Basler, a Republican, is being sought by Democrat, Bruce Holmes.

Basler, 50, of McDonough, and Holmes, 44, of Ellenwood, will face off against each other for a second time.

Holmes has lived in Henry County since 2002, and owns BHI Realty & Associates in Stockbridge. He and his wife, Electra, have three children and two grandchildren.

Holmes made an unsuccessful bid for the District V seat in 2006.

"I was kind of teetering back and forth as to whether to run again," he said.

He said he was motivated to run by recent development in the area that he said will have a negative impact on traffic.

Holmes said his platform centers around generating incentives to lure new business to the area, promoting infrastructure improvements, and encouraging positive community development projects such as sidewalks and walking trails.

He said the specific types of industry he would like to see more of in Henry County are pharmaceutical, technology, and financial companies.

"Currently, you see all these companies going up to Cobb and north Fulton counties, but there's really no reason why we can't attract those companies to Henry County," Holmes said.

Basler, who is finishing up his first term in office, said there are several key issues at stake in this year's race.

"In our district, some of the most important issues are having Fairview Road on the Comprehensive Transportation Plan as a priority, and on Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) III, as well as a recreation center," he said.

Some important projects to him include road improvements along Hearn Road and Airline Road, and the re-alignment of Panola Road and East Atlanta Road. Additionally, he said, critical intersection improvements are needed at Ga. Highways 155 and 138, Fairview Road and Ga. Highway 155, and Flat Rock Road and Old Conyers Road.

Basler stressed the need for all commission members to work together.

"It's important this board is in harmony, and can move in the same direction," he said. "We don't always agree, but there's a lot of things that, looking at the county as a whole, we have to be mindful of the whole county and what kind of state our economy is in."

Basler owns two businesses , a dump truck company in McDonough, and a restaurant in Stockbridge. He and his wife, Sonya, have one daughter.

Running unopposed for re-election this year will be District IV Commissioner Reid Bowman, 63, of Stockbridge.

Bowman is also finishing his first term in office. He said that despite a busy schedule, he felt compelled to seek another term.

"It really wasn't an easy decision," he said. "Certain contractual obligations within my business have increased, which is good. My business is doing very well, but most of my business is out of state, so it requires some travel."

Bowman owns a construction company. He and his wife, Janice, have four children and nine grandchildren.

Bowman said he would like to see the completion of the planned bridge on Rock Quarry Road, construction of a new fire station on Rock Quarry Road to replace the existing facility, the widening of Eagle's Landing Parkway, and the East Lake extension.

"I felt like I've given four years, and I felt like I have a little more to give," he added. "I'm going to make one more run at the District IV seat."