BOC candidates working hard for runoff votes

LAWRENCEVILLE -- The four Republican candidates remaining in the races for two Gwinnett County Commission seats have been braving the heat and pounding the pavement to convince voters to choose them in the upcoming runoff election.

For more than two weeks, the top vote-getters in the July 20 primary election have been going door-to-door heralding their messages in preparation for Tuesday's runoff.

Norcross residents Lynette Howard and Keith Shewbert are vying for the District 2 seat being vacated by Bert Nasuti. The winner will face Democrat Robert Lee Byars in November.

Meanwhile, Lawrenceville resident John Heard and Buford resident Tim Sullivan are each hoping to be the Republicans' choice to face Democrat John B. Kenney in the District 4 race to replace outgoing Commissioner Kevin Kenerly.

District 2

Howard, a program developer and specialist with the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center, said she's been working for the community for about 15 years. She previously served on the Gwinnett County Planning Advisory Committee and currently serves on the Gwinnett County Planning Commission and the United Peachtree Corners Civic Association.

"I know how to get things done," she said. "I want to take the experience I've gotten in fighting for good solutions to the county level."

Howard said she wants to find a way to run the county more efficiently. She said she's also focused on finding ways to improve the economic vitality of Gwinnett. Public safety is also a top priority.

On the campaign trail, Howard said she's sought input from people in her district. If elected, she wants to create a forum for constituents to "tell what's good, what's bad and their ideas on how to make it better."

"I know how to get in touch with the citizens, and I will keep doing that," she said.

Shewbert, the owner of 45 South Cafe in Norcross, said his message is the same he shared in the weeks leading up to the primary. He's running to reform the government, lower taxes, fight illegal immigration and revitalize the southwest end of the county.

"I think I am by far the most conservative candidate in the race now," he said.

Shewbert said he also thinks he's more in touch with the ethnically and economically diverse portion of his district. He's a founding board member of the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District.

The former Norcross City Council member said he's ready to serve on the County Commission. His work in the city was the same job, just on a different scale, he said. He said he learned valuable lessons about working on elected boards in that role.

"I'm able to look at ideas and find the best solution for the people," he said.

District 4

Heard, an architect who serves on the Lawrenceville Downtown Development Authority, said he's spending a lot of time going door-to-door talking about his top priorities.

Heard's main concerns are stopping the expansion and commercialization of Briscoe Field, fixing the "botched" garbage plan, fighting illegal immigration and creating a business-friendly environment in the county.

"I have solutions," he said. "I'm for smaller government. Instead of raising taxes, I think we should cut out what we don't essentially need."

When he served in the Georgia House of Representatives, Heard was chairman of the appropriations committee. He said that experience will be helpful if he's elected to the County Commission.

"I have a tremendous amount of experience with the budgeting process," he said. "Gwinnett County needs to move to a zero-based budget. ... They need to look at what's absolutely necessary for the next year."

Sullivan, a real estate salesman, has also been talking about his top priorities -- transparency in the county government, fiscal issues and the privatization of Briscoe Field.

Sullivan said he comes from a background of leading a large group of neighborhoods for a common cause, and he wants to energize a larger group of residents to get involved with local issues.

"My coalition of homeowners is an example of my outreach to the community," he said. "I want to expand and broaden this effort countywide."

Sullivan said his ability to work with both homeowners and business leaders will help him in office. If elected, he said he'll hold open meetings every month for his constituents.

"I believe the commissioners serve at the will of the people and should take their direction from them," he said.