COVINGTON — A plan to veto a vote opposing renewal of Newton County Manager Lloyd Kerr’s contract is contrary to state law governing contracts.
Kerr said Wednesday that, because a majority of the board did not vote to renew his contract, state law would not allow a veto to ratify the contract.
Unless the board takes action in the next seven weeks, Kerr’s contract will expire Jan. 1. Kerr has said he will not continue to work past that date without a contract.
Commissioners voted 3-2 against renewing Kerr’s contract on Nov. 2. The vote not to renew fell along party lines, with Democrats Demond Mason, District 2, Alana Sanders, District 3, and J.C. Henderson, District 4, voting no. Republicans Stan Edwards, District 1, and Ronnie Cowan, District 5, voted to renew.
Following the vote, Board of Commissioners Chairman Marcello Banes, who is a Democrat, said he would exercise his veto power to renew the contract. Under the county’s charter, the chairman has the power to veto a 3-2 vote. However, commissioners subsequently learned that state law would not allow the contract to be ratified by veto.
The potential to be without a county manager comes at a time when the county is also looking to hire an in-house attorney. The board rejected a contract with attorney Megan Martin in October by the same 3-2 vote. Martin had worked for the county for several years under contract with the law firm of Jarrard & Davis. When the county opted to move to an in-house attorney, Martin applied and was selected as the final candidate. Since the commissioners failed to agree on a contract with Martin, the county reopened its candidate search. As of Nov. 11, the county had received zero applications for the county attorney position. In the meantime, the county has continued to be represented by Jarrard & Davis.
County Manager Kerr had the full support of the board when his contract was renewed last year. However, Commissioners Sanders, who took office in January, and Henderson recently expressed dissatisfaction with Kerr’s handling of American Rescue Plan Act funds received by the county, saying that it was taking too long to get money to their constituents in need. Kerr was in the process of hiring a consultant to oversee the distribution process when the board decided Nov. 2 to appoint a committee of board members to oversee the distribution process.
In addition, in August, Kerr expressed concerns about commissioners circumventing the chain of command and reminded them that the county’s enabling legislation provides for the county manager to be in charge of all day-to-day operations of the county, while the Board of Commissioners is responsible for setting policy. Kerr said at the time that county employees had brought it to his attention that some commissioners were contacting employees directly.
Commissioner Mason said he thought the enabling legislation should be changed to allow commissioners to give direction to department directors, as long as the county manager is notified.
Commissioners said they would discuss the matter further at a meeting in September, but that discussion never took place.
CONYERS — The New Depot Players is in rehearsal for an old-fashioned variety show, “Stories from the Keepsake Box: Christmastime,” written and directed by Sylvia Veith. Audience members can expect traditional holiday music, original stories never before told, dance and lots of laughter. There may even be a sing-along.
Three young actresses, Nancy Bailey, Ryver Bailey, and Addison Freeman, will be making their stage debuts in such pieces as “Fighting at Christmas; Lucky at Christmas” and “Hanukkah in Hyde County.” The young ladies have brought their energy, acting skills, and lovely voices to other numbers as well. Veith says she has enjoyed watching them grow in their character pieces. “What a joy they are!” said Veith.
The frenzy and fun of the holiday season is also viewed from an adult perspective in such pieces as “The Brown and Serve Nativity,” “Inside the Dressing Room: A Christmas Wedding,” “A Snowy Night in Iowa: A Christmas Memory,” and “‘Twas the Day After Christmas.” A dance presentation, choreographed by Jeff McKerley, provides a moment of beauty and inspiration.
Veith said she is thrilled about the show and thanks playwrights Abigail Taylor Sansom and Steven Korbar for contributing to the experience. “What makes everything unique is these stories are original and full of surprises,” Veith said. “They really are perfect for kicking off the holiday season.”
The cast is rounded out by veteran actors Lona Alpert, Shanelle Amor, Zolly Brown, Beth Clark, Susan Culver, Kim Fratesi, Justin Kitchens, Judy Mauran, Jill Alpert Miller, Scott Mills, Sylvia Veith and Stephanie Wilkinson.
The show runs Nov. 18, 19 and 20 at 7:30 p.m. The Sunday, Nov. 21 matinee is already sold out. Ticket prices are: Adults — $15; Students and Children — $10. Only general seating is available. Tickets can be purchased online at: www.thenewdepotplayers.com.
Editor’s note: This is the latest in a series of interviews with candidates seeking the 10th District U.S. Congressional seat. For the full Q&A with Col. Mitchell Swan, go to www.rockdalenewtoncitizen.com
After 30 years in the military, Col. Mitchell Swan was poised for a life of leisure. He was moving into a new home, making plans to travel and spend time with his wife. But then duty called.
“I had several friends say, ‘You’ve done your time. Travel. Enjoy your time with Leslie,’” Swan said. “That’s a strong argument, but I realized this country wasn’t established by time, but by sacrifice and maintained by sacrifice. This country will slide into the dust bin of history when good men and women refuse to sacrifice.”
Swan is a Republican seeking to win Georgia’s 10th District Congressional seat now held by Rep. Jody Hice, who is not seeking re-election to that post, but is now running to become Georgia’s next Secretary of State.
In 2016, Swan wrote a book, “Broken Arrow: Christ’s Last Stand,” which addresses both the spiritual and physical warfare threatening today’s world. The following is an excerpt: “The greatest, freest nations on earth were never built upon the ideals of kings, bankers, scholars or lawyers. They were established upon the principles of Jesus Christ. Nowhere is this truer than Western Civilization. While the birth, ministry, death and resurrection of a Jewish carpenter over 2,000 years ago effected the world more completely than any occurrence since creation, the continued inspiration and fortitude of Christ’s teachings require the lively conviction of all faithful followers. Today — by retreating Christian devotion and leadership—the influence, prosperity, and individual freedoms enjoyed by western nations are approaching the brink of ruin. This is a real threat. But there is a solution. And it starts in America.”
“I had no ambition of running for office,” Swan said. “I wrote a geopolitical book... People were calling me and saying, ‘Mitch, you’ve got to get in the race.’ The day that good men are unwilling to sacrifice is when this country falls apart.”
Swan referenced the anger and fear that are becoming so prevalent in society and said, “That’s how Hitler came to power.”
He said his military training puts him in a strong position to lead.
“A superior leader can motivate people on those virtues we hold dear — individual liberty, justice and belief that there’s one system of government,” he said. “...That’s why the Patriot Act so concerns me. Anyone who tries to affect government can be a ‘terrorist.’”
Swan says he is greatly concerned about the erosion of tolerance in the country.
“In my 30 years, I prided myself on defending a nation where we could live the way we wanted to live — but I get that right, too,” he said.
The retired U.S. Marine was born in Boston, Mass., into a family of entrepreneurs, saying both his parents were “self made.” His mother had a bed and breakfast business on Cape Cod and his father had a furniture store in Wellesley.
“I understand the struggles of small businesses,” Swan said.
He went to Marquette University’s School of Business, graduating in 1987, and then completed his MBA at Chaminade University in Honolulu, HI, as well as graduating from the U.S. Naval War College.
Swan went to Marquette planning to pursue a career in business, but then his work with the school’s Naval ROTC program put him on a different path.
“I found I enjoyed the military,” he said. “... What I really enjoyed the most is mentoring others.” As he grew in rank and had more troops under his command, Swan said he always told them it was their job to help those under them to climb up the ladder and not the job of those with lower rank to push them toward the top.
“So many people are ‘me, me, me,’” he said. “Then you see great leaders like (the late) Truett Cathy. He wanted to create a great company where all his people could succeed. I’m running for the 10th District so that the 10th District can have an abundant life. We are in a culture war. The very first rule of defensive warfare is hardening your position.”
Swan said he is working to help the counties that make up the 10th District come together to establish those standards, such as what children will be taught in school or the issue of mask mandates.
“For our culture here, is the 10th District going to be a district of tearing down statues?” he asked. “Also, for defunding police? So even if things change around us, we determine our own lifestyles and our own destinies.”
Also while he was at Marquette, Swan met the woman he would marry many years later. Mitchell and Leslie Swan met in 1984, but it would be years later before they wed. He said she went off to pursue her “dream career,” and he was going to serve three years in the Marines before they married. But three turned into 30, and while he says she has been his “best friend and advocate” for many years, the two got back together and finally married in 2015. Swan worked with his wife in operating a wealth management company in Watkinsville before stepping down to run in the 10th District race for 2022. Swan had an earlier foray into politics when he unsuccessfully ran in 2014 for the same seat.
Upon his graduation from Marquette, Swan was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. In 1995, following eight years of Fleet Marine Force duty, which included service in the 1990 Gulf War, Swan was transferred to the Navy Supply Corps School in Athens to serve as lead instructor for its Marine officer students.
His three children were born at Athens Regional Hospital. In 1999, Swan resigned from the Marines to raise his family in Athens and take a civilian job in the financial industry. However, he joined the Marine Reserves shortly before 9-11 — a decision that resulted in multiple activations and deployments, including Iraq in 2004. In 2008, upon promotion to full-bird colonel, Swan was activated to serve at U.S. Pacific Command in the Operations Directorate for two years. Following that, he was re-assigned to U.S. Central Command in the Strategies, Plans and Policies Directorate for another two years.
Swan completed active duty with U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla., as a policy developer for the Middle East, as well as the Pacific. His experience includes crafting and implementing U.S. Policy and leading crisis operations at the highest levels. Swan officially retired from the Marine Corps in 2017. His awards include Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medals, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals.
However, his life has not been without hurt and loss. During the birth of his youngest child, daughter Samantha, 21, there was a problem with the cord wrapped around her in the womb, which resulted in 25 minutes lapsing before she took her first breath. She has cerebral palsy and cannot walk, talk or feed herself.
“That experience took me from faith in God to belief,” Swan said. “She’s my angel. I have a lot of empathy with parents with special needs children and young adults trying to live independently.” He also talks about those injured in military service and how to help them.
In referencing how there seems to be so few willing workers these days and how businesses are begging for employees, Swan said he is “offended.”
“My daughter would do anything, and I would pay anything for my daughter to be able to walk and push a mop,” he said.
Swan’s military service took him away from home a good bit and his deployments were hard on the family.
Andrew, his youngest son, was a standout track athlete who graduated from Athens Academy in 2017.
“He was all signed up to go to Rhodes College and run track for them,” Swan said. “He lit into me and said, ‘I feel like you chose the Marine Corps over me, you missed a lot.’ I said, ‘Hey, buddy. We have the rest of our lives as men to make up for that.’ I retired on June 1, 2017, and June 3, he had an accident and fell off his skateboard. He succumbed to his injuries.”
Andrew Swan died June 5, 2017.
“The lesson there is don’t live in the future, but live now,” Swan said. “So many say it’s not a good time right now... I don’t know how many tomorrows our country has.”
Swan said 400 people came to pay their respects to his late son and that because of his faith that “we are eternal beings, I’m going to see him again.”
Swan’s oldest son, Matthew lives in Atlanta and is an emergency medical technician.
Col. and Mrs. Swan recently moved to Good Hope and are active in St. Stephen’s Anglican Catholic Church. Swan said he was raised by Baptists, attended the Presbyterian Church and supported the chaplains when he was in the Marines. He has taught Bible study and completed his third church build with Carpenters for Christ. Swan is a former board member of Athens College of Ministry.
A biblical scholar, student and Marine, Swan has a special take on America’s past and future.
“What happened in Afghanistan was the worst U.S. policy in history,” he said. “They mis-sequenced that and think they did it deliberately. If you support our troops, you’ve got to give them the best support... I just don’t think the people understand what we’re in for. The dominoes are going to fall after Afghanistan... In 1979, Iran was our best ally in the Middle East. The women wore skirts and dresses, drove convertibles. They had the highest literacy rate in the region.”
Swan explained how Russia began inroads into Iran prompting the shah to ask the U.S. for help, but America declined, saying it did not want to “take on Russia.”
“Then the ayatollahs took over,” Swan said. “Now Iran is our sworn enemy and aligned with Russia. They’re building nuclear weapons from Russia that Russia got from us because we sold them the mineral rights.”
As a candidate for U.S. Congress, Swan said the U.S. is in a “battle to restore the American spirit and the values that built and sustained this country.”
“We need leaders to fight for us in Congress because our identity as Americans is shifting under our feet thanks to politicians who no longer cherish the traditional ideals we love of individual liberty, justice and self-government,” Swan said.
Candidates running for the 2022 U.S. Congressional District 10 seat are being asked to answer a questionnaire posed by the Citizen. A sampling of Swan’s answers is below. The full Q&A transcript can be found under Election 2022 on our website www.rockdalenewtoncitizen.com.
Why are you a Republican?
I would consider myself a Christian first, a conservative second, and a Republican third. I am part of the Republican Party because our platform is one of liberty, security, and opportunity.
What led you to get involved in politics?
When I retired from the Marine Corps, my friends told me I should take it easy and enjoy retirement. But I couldn’t sit back as the United States is falling apart. I am running for Congress to help get the United States moving in the right direction again.
Do you think U.S. businesses should pay more in taxes? If so, how much more and why?
No. Our economy was the strongest in history after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Amid the current economic crisis, we should adopt pro-growth policies, not those that would hamstring small businesses and ship jobs to China.
Do you support the current open border immigration system? What do you think about a border wall? Please explain your answers.
A nation without borders is no nation at all. President Biden’s refusal to secure the border is a dereliction of his duty to uphold the rule of law. We should continue to build the wall, secure our borders, and put a stop to the violent crime, deadly drugs, and human trafficking flooding across the border into our communities.
Regarding Critical Race Theory, do you think promoting it will help or hurt efforts to improve race relations in the U.S? Please explain your answer. Also, should it be taught in America’s public schools? Why or why not?
Critical Race Theory is corrosive to the moral fiber of this nation. It has no place in our children’s schools, our nation’s military, or any other American institution. Critical Race Theory teaches that we should view all aspects of society through the lens of race. For so long as we allow left wing propagandists to draw divisive lines between us, we can never hope to heal and unify the American people.
The Rockdale Citizen and Newton Citizen are shining a spotlight on the Hospital Heroes at Piedmont Rockdale and Piedmont Newton hospitals who are giving their all to provide a high level of essential health care services during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In this edition, we are honoring Heather Lindsay at Piedmont Newton Hospital. Here’s what her coworkers have to say about Heather:
Heather Lindsay is a true Hospital Hero for Piedmont Newton Hospital. She is a housekeeper and leader for the Environmental Services Department. She also works as a patient sitter. Heather is compassionate and does all she can to help patients. She takes a personal interest in patients and makes them feel comfortable and cared for. As a leader in our Environmental Services Department, she has been invaluable in helping the team navigate through the challenges presented by COVID-19.
CONYERS — Conyers will kick off the holiday season on Friday, Dec. 3 with the Olde Town Christmas Party featuring the Trucks on the Tracks food truck event followed by the Conyers Christmas Parade on Saturday, Dec. 4.
Sponsored by the city of Conyers, the Olde Town Christmas Party and Trucks on the Tracks will take place on Railroad Street in the historic business district on Dec. 3 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Families are encouraged to bring their cameras for selfies with Santa and photos with special guests scheduled to appear. Guests will also enjoy complimentary marshmallow roasting, children’s activities and live entertainment by musician Samer on the deck of the Conyers Depot.
Food trucks scheduled to participate at this time include Carnival Food Truck, Kona Ice, Egg Roll Boyz, A Little Nauti, and Soul Truckin Good.
On Saturday, Dec. 4, the Conyers Christmas Parade will make its way through Olde Town Conyers beginning at 2 p.m. The parade begins at Rockdale County High School on Pine Log Road and continues to Main Street before it concludes at the Rockdale County Courthouse on Milstead Avenue. In the event of inclement weather, the rain date for the parade is Sunday, Dece. 5 at 2 p.m.
Parade participants and the public are encouraged to follow the city’s social media pages and website for more information.
“Our community loves the holiday season and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than with a weekend complete with a visit from Santa, delicious food from unique food trucks, fun for kids, a parade, festival, and community tree lighting,” said Sandy Daniels, event coordinator for Olde Town Conyers. “Come and be part of the start of holiday fun in Conyers and Rockdale County.”
Other upcoming holiday events in Olde Town Conyers include the return of ice skating by Ice Days to the Randal S. Mills City Center Park/Olde Town Pavilion. The rink will be open Nov. 19, 2021-Feb. 21, 2022. Days and hours of operation vary, so visit icedays.com for more details.
Ice Days, the Celtic Tavern and Sweet Treat Depot, also present Winterfest, a day of live entertainment, arts and crafts vendors, children’s activities and more in the streets of Olde Town Conyers on Saturday, Dec. 4 from 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. Admission and parking are free.
Rockdale County presents the lighting of the county’s Christmas tree at the Rockdale County Courthouse (Main Street side) following the parade and Winterfest on Saturday, Dec. 4 at 6 p.m. featuring Santa Claus and a performance by local entertainer Joya Bravo.
For more information on these and other holiday events, go to visitconyersga.com or call 1-800-CONYERS.