published Thursday, November 21st, 2013

3 qualify to run for Jay Neal's Georgia House seat


Polls will be open on Tuesday, Jan. 7 from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. The election will occur in portions of Catoosa, Walker and Whitfield counties. It's a nonpartisan special election with no party primaries, but each candidate's party affiliation will be listed on the ballot. A runoff election, if needed, will be held Feb. 4.

Three candidates met the noon Wednesday deadline to qualify to run for the Georgia House District 2 seat vacated last week by Republican Jay Neal of LaFayette, who stepped down to take an appointment by Gov. Nathan Deal to a state Department of Corrections post. They are:

• Neal Florence, 62, a LaFayette pharmacist who's resigning his post as LaFayette's mayor after 23 years in office

• Steve Tarvin, 62, president and CEO of the recently closed Crystal Springs Print Works textile plant in Chickamauga. Tarvin made an unsuccessful 2012 Republican primary bid against Neal.

• Doug Woodruff, 50, a Ringgold attorney who in 2012 ran to be Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit district attorney and lost by 42 votes.

Each candidate paid $400 in Atlanta to qualify.

Florence said his experience as a pharmacy owner and mayor are reasons he'd make a good legislator.

"I've been a small business owner for 34 years, and it's still viable," Florence said. "I was mayor for 23 years, and the city's still viable. I'm able to balance budgets and make sure we don't go into deficits."

Mayor is the only other office Florence has sought. Asked if he's ever lost an election, he said, "no."

Neither Woodruff nor Tarvin could be reached by phone or email Wednesday afternoon.

"I have a unique insight into the challenges which face each of us on a daily basis," Woodruff said in a statement on his campaign's Facebook page. "This is so because as a local attorney I represent the little guy and not big business. I look forward to this wonderful opportunity to make new friends and renew old friendships in District 2 while continuing my service to the local community in a new role as a representative for the people."

Tarvin's Facebook page didn't have any statements aside from a description of himself as "very conservative" and quotes from Abraham Lincoln, Samuel Adams and the following from Samuel Johnson: "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."

None of the candidates' websites were operational Wednesday.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfree or 423-757-6651.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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