“It’s time for me to get back in politics,” Thomas said. He points to losing a key employee in his business, Dothan Awning, and an ill grandchild as contributing factors for him deciding not to seek re-election as mayor in 2009. Thomas said with those issues now behind he’s ready to resume his career in public service.
While the county commission would be a new venture in Thomas’ political career, being on a commission is nothing new to him. He served as a Dothan commissioner for eight years—first elected in 1997. He then served one term as mayor beginning in 2005.
“I know what it means when one is elected to a commission and what (voters) expect from the person they elect,” Thomas said. “My 12 years of experience will help me more than anything.”
Thomas points to his involvement in the Dothan Area of Chamber of Commerce as a major asset. “I’ve been involved in economic development since 1996.” Thomas was joined for his announcement by top management at KFH Industries, a fire hose manufacturer that opened in Dothan during Thomas’ mayoral administration.
In his bid, Thomas will oppose one term incumbent Jackie Battles for the District 3 seat. They are, without doubt, men with diverse personalities. Thomas is well engaged with the Dothan business community while Battles was popular enough among voters to unseat longtime commissioner Frances Cook in the 2010 election by an almost two-to-one margin. Battles victory came, in part, because of strong support in the rural community.
However, Thomas points to strong roots in the district. “My uncle pastors a church in District 3 and my brother taught school in the district so I see it as asking the people of the district to give me a job that I can do,” Thomas said. He resides in the district with wife, Cindy, and downplays the notion this will be a race of the city versus county.
Thomas admits, if he’s victorious, the job won’t be easy. After being asked to identify the biggest problems facing Houston County he paused several seconds before answering. “The same problems with government continue to come up so if you talk about the biggest problems it’s the going to be the problem of the week.” He said issues facing elected leaders change daily but there are some issues that never vanish—such as roads, garbage, and the ability to recruit jobs.
Thomas and Battles will face each other in the Republican primary set for June, 2014. Battles has yet to make his official announcement. No other candidates have been mentioned as contenders.
Ken Curtis is the senior investigative/political reporter for WDHN. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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