House District 145 candidate Quentin T. Howell, a progressive Democrat, has stressed the importance of attracting private sector jobs along with bringing back public sector government jobs to Baldwin and Putnam counties.
Howell was the only Democrat to qualify back in May for the House District 145 seat, and no Republican qualified.
In the July 31 primary, Howell is running unopposed and await an official challenger for the November elections.
However, the incumbent of the Milledgville-Eatonton based House District 145, Rusty Kidd, is a registered independent.
Kidd, a former professional lobbyist by occupation, has often sided with Georgia Republicans on the majority of legislation ranging from restructuring the HOPE scholarship to instituting drug tests for people who apply for unemployment benefits.
Kidd has colluded with Republicans to slowly erase government jobs from Baldwin County and it has had a negative impact on the area’s unemployment rate along with population loss in both Milledgeville and Eatonton.
Howell says Baldwin and Putnam County along with the state of Georgia can’t take much more of the Republicans undermining Georgia’s economy.
A vote for Kidd, if he qualifies for November, is a vote for the continuation of flawed policies that has a negative impact on the middle-class, the working poor along with older veterans who need housing assistance.
Nationally, the economic recovery has been slowed by the loss of government jobs despite growth in the private sector.
Georgia’s unemployment rate is still higher than the national average.
In May, the unemployment had reached 11.9 percent in Baldwin County and 10.2 percent in Putnam County. Overall, Georgia’s unemployment rate sits at nine percent.
Georgia’s poverty rate reached its highest point in nearly three decades last year, according to Census Bureau figures.
Additionally, the issue of high unemployment along with the housing crisis have continued to be a persistent problem.
The Peach State is now third in the nation in regard to the poverty rate and another factor is that many Georgians are still without health insurance.
The loss of government jobs has an affect on Baldwin County and Putnam County populations over the past decade.
According to the 2010 census, Baldwin County’s largest city and county seat lost approximately six percent of its population over the past decade (2000-2010).
Milledgeville had 18,757 residents according to the 2000 Census, but the current Census results show the population has dropped to 17,715.
Most of Milledgeville’s population that has slowly diminished were from the African-American community.
In Milledgeville, the African-American population has dropped from 47.6 percent in 2000 to 42 percent in 2010.
Howell and his wife, LaTonya, have been tireless progressive advocates in Baldwin County and have helped to sponsor numerous events such as job fairs in an effort to help the local community.
Last September, Howell and a small group of Georgia Democrats had visited Washington, D.C and had an opportunity to pose questions to President Obama.
“I had been compiling questions from email, Facebook, my web page and face-to-face interaction,” Howell said. “We’ve been asked to come and bring concerns to Washington to the administration and they want the input.”
Another concern for Howell is public transportation.
” If you are in a rural county without a public transportation system, it becomes a burden to get groceries, go to work, and receive medical attention; especially if that medical attention comes from out of town. If you take a cab from Baldwin to Macon, Augusta or Atlanta, your bill for the ride may be the equivalent to the value of the cab itself. This is not financially feasible. I have a vision of connecting all of Georgia through affordable transit.”