POLITICAL NOTEBOOK: Two local legislators vie for speaker pro tem

Camie Young

Camie Young

After the resignation of House Speaker Glenn Richardson and Speaker Pro Tem Mark Burkhalter's announcement he would also step down, Republican legislators will decide on new leaders next week.

Two members of Gwinnett's legislative delegation have thrown their hats into the ring -- Rep. Clay Cox, R-Lilburn, and Rep. Len Walker, R-Loganville -- for the speaker pro tem spot.

"I believe there has been an erosion of trust not only in the eyes of the public but in the eyes of some members of our caucus," said Walker, a minister.

He said he wants to restore that trust and bridge a gap between leadership and rank-and-file members of the majority party.

"I want to be the kind of leader that is extraordinarily accessible to members," he said.

Cox also said he wanted to reinstate the integrity of the House leadership, after Richardson's public announcement of a suicide attempt and word of an affair with a lobbyist.

"I think that we have come to a point where if we don't clean up the House, the voters could and should clean it up for us," he said, adding that he wanted to restore the act of listening among the leadership.

"The most important thing is we elect people to leadership who are ethical people with conservative values," he said.

Both Walker and Cox said they were unsure if the county's large delegation would be split among the two.

Walker said he expected them both to survive the first round of voting during next Thursday's secret balloting.

Keen to address luncheon

Jerry Keen, the top ranking House member to continue in office this year as the majority leader, is due to address Gwinnett's civic and business leaders.

Keen replaces Richardson in the Chamber of Commerce's annual legislative lunch.

The event begins at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Atlanta Marriott-Gwinnett Place and costs $45 for Chamber members and $55 for non-members.

Keen is expected to address issues including water, education, transportation and economic development.

Camon to speak

in Winder

Few voters may know the name Carl Camon, but people will have a chance to meet him this week.

The mayor of Ray City, who is one of the least widely known candidates in the 2010 governor's race, will speak at the Barrow County Democratic Party meeting at 7:30 Monday.

The speech at the Golden Coral Restaurant at 163 May St. in Winder is free and open to the public.

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Camie Young can be reached via e-mail at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.