3 candidates vie for District 2 board of commissioners seat

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Gwinnett voters will decide July 20 which of three Republican candidates will run against the lone, unopposed Democrat for the District 2 Board of Commissioners seat.

Norcross residents Lynette Howard, Jose Perez and Keith Shewbert are vying for the opportunity to face off in November against Democrat Robert Lee Byars.

If elected, Perez, a former planning commissioner, will set his sights on elevating Gwinnett County's status not only in Georgia but nationwide.

"I think we live in a great county," the 63-year-old business owner said. "I think we have done well through the years and we can do better. We need to be the best in the nation, and I think I can help do that with my focus on economics and my history in the private sector doing strategic planning and financial management."

Shewbert has narrowed his plans, if elected, to bringing greater transparency to the county government by establishing a searchable, online database of all county contracts. He would also expand the work of the county's process improvement team, which he said is understaffed, to include looking into all areas of operations and improving efficiency in customer service. Enhancing planning and development opportunities in southwest Gwinnett is also a priority for Shewbert.

Repairing the county budget through sustainable solutions without curbing vital service areas is a top priority for Howard, a current member of the county planning commission. Public safety is an area she will seek to increase, along with attracting businesses to the county.

"(I plan) to explore all sorts of ideas and ways to make our country stronger," Howard said, "looking at the buget with fresh eye and seeing if there is any kind of duplication between departments, if they can share resources. Anything to get our county healthy."

In the event no candidate receives a majority of votes in the primary election, a run-off will be held Aug. 10.

Byars and the Republican candidate selected will vie for the county commission seat being vacated by Bert Nasuti, who did not seek re-election.