By Johnny Jackson
Stockbridge resident, Bruce Holmes, will have a different view of the Henry County Board of Commissioners' chambers beginning in January. Holmes was elected, by a slim margin this November, to represent District V on the board.
Official election results showed that 85 votes, out of the 12,144 cast in the race, separated Holmes from his opponent, incumbent commissioner, Johnny Basler.
"I consider myself fiscally conservative, and socially responsible," said Holmes, 45. "It's time for Henry County to invest in the Fifth District."
The commissioner-elect campaigned on a pledge to address the "areas that impact the county's viability," by emphasizing jobs and business development, reducing crime, improving transportation and infrastructure, increasing pedestrian-friendly greenspace, and lowering property taxes.
"The only way we're going to reduce the residential tax burden is to increase our commercial tax base," Holmes said. "I'm talking about working with the development authority to attract the kind of company you'd see in North Fulton County. I think it is time for the county to bring jobs here, south of the airport."
Holmes said he ran unsuccessfully against Basler four years ago on a platform that centered around increasing the presence of law enforcement in the District V. He lost to Basler then, by 846 votes.
"I ran because of the crime, four years ago," he said. "We were having home invasions four years ago." He said he collected more than 1,200 signatures in a 2007 petition supporting Commissioner Basler and now-retired Police Chief Russell Abernathy in their push to open a police substation that would serve the Ellenwood and Fairview communities of District V, in northern Henry County.
"I have a vision for Henry County," said Holmes. "My vision is of a brand new police precinct in the areas where we have retail. An administration building would be OK as well, with the precinct, so that citizens in this area wouldn't have to travel south for their services."
Henry County Police Chief Keith Nichols said the police department is already planning to move some of its operations, in January, into Henry County's old Fairview Activity Center on Fairview Road in Stockbridge.
The police chief added that the former activities center would provide more space for operations. The department currently houses some operations out of an office in Henry County Fire Station No. 6, on Fairview Road in Ellenwood. "The precinct [at Fire Station No. 6] has been very beneficial to us," Nichols said. "Having a physical precinct, it doesn't take us as long to respond to incidents ...
"For the last four years, we've had pretty good relations with Commissioner Basler. And we're ready to work with [commissioner-elect] Holmes."
Holmes is a University of Minnesota graduate. He had a seven-year professional football career, which included a stint in the Canadian Football League, and one as a linebacker with the National Football League's Minnesota Vikings.
After a career in the NFL, Holmes said he pursued business ventures in the retail and cosmetology industries, and earned a master's degree in business management from St. Mary's University of Minnesota.
Holmes also has coached in various youth football and basketball leagues. He said he continues to coach in area leagues, and volunteers at local churches, senior citizen centers, and schools. He was married, about a year ago, to wife, Electra, and has three children and two grandchildren.
He works as the director of national accounts for a hematology/oncology biotech company, and is the founder of the Stockbridge-based BHI Realty & Associates, LLC.
Henry County Commission Chairman Elizabeth "B.J." Mathis said she spoke with Holmes by telephone last week, and plans to get to know him. "I am looking forward to working with him," Mathis said, "and I am very interested in hearing his ideas for the Fifth District and Henry County."