The open seat for Georgia Senate District 50 race drew a full field of Republicans hoping to advance to the ballot in November.
Andy Garrison, Dan Gasaway, Stacy Hall, Bo Hatchett, Tricia Hise and Lee Moore will face each other in the June 9 Republican Primary.
The district includes parts of Jackson, Banks, Franklin, Habersham, Hall, Rabun, Stephens and Towns counties.
Republican incumbent John Wilkinson of Toccoa is seeking a position in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Andy Garrison, 66, of Jefferson is the principal managing partner of Inland Realty in Jefferson and serves as president of The Garrison Company. He served as director of the Georgia Public Safety Training Center until retiring in 2011. Currently he teaches at Athens Technical College.
“I was born and raised in Jefferson and have lived in North Georgia all my life. As director of the State Public Safety Training Center in Athens, I have served Northeast Georgia for over 30 years by training and educating your public safety personnel. I have served on the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce for many years and recently completed a year as chairman. During my tenure at the chamber and through my business, I have seen North Georgia change. Even though change is inevitable, I believe it can be managed in order to make the change beneficial to our communities. As your next senator, I will bring a lifetime of commitment to ethics and common sense to Atlanta and will represent you by listening and being your voice in the Senate.”
Garrison has also been involved with local community volunteer groups since the early 1980s. His diverse collection of activities includes the Hurricane Shoals Tumbling Water Society, Jefferson’s Community Theater, Sons of the American Legion and various local business associations.
His education includes an undergraduate degree in criminal justice from Georgia Southern University and a master’s in public administration from Brenau College.
Working as a first responder and a leader in law enforcement for 38 years, Garrison said he has seen laws and regulations developed and enforced from the ground up. He said his public safety background together with his role as a small business owner, educator, community service leader and his involvement in local ministry have uniquely prepared and qualified him to be a trusted leader for our community and a respected voice in the state Senate.
Identifying as a conservative, Garrison said he will protect pro-life policy, defend the Second Amendment, simplify and reduce government, and lower taxes.
Garrison said he is dedicated to preserving and strengthening the area’s family farms and agricultural resources, to bringing jobs and opportunities to the district while working to manage where growth goes so that it does not negatively affect quality of life.
Garrison said his law enforcement background makes him well-versed on the challenges faced by the district’s communities, including the drug crisis, human trafficking and national security priorities.
Poorly-managed mental health issues pose a threat to citizens and the police force, Garrison said, adding he will be a strong voice at the Capitol to seek solutions and keep communities safe.
Dan Gasaway, 53, of Homer formerly served three terms as state representative from 2013 to 2018. He is a builder.
Raised in Habersham County, Gasaway is a 1984 graduate of Habersham Central High School and received a bachelor of science degree in Architecture in 1988 from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and worked in the architecture field upon graduation.
Gasaway is a 22-year resident of Banks County. He and his wife Shannon, a public school teacher, have been married for 28 years. They are members of the Presbyterian Church, and Dan is an ordained elder.
For the past 22 years, Gasaway has been a self-employed farmer and builder.
Gasaway said effective representation begins with constituent contact. Returning telephone calls and answering emails are priorities, as well as meeting face to face, Gasaway said.
Gasaway said his goal is to support tax policy that makes Georgia an attractive state for new businesses, as well as tax policy that strengthens existing businesses.
Those economic development decisions should not create future financial liability for taxpayers, Gasaway said.
In his previous tenure in the General Assembly, Gasaway sponsored HB 60, the Georgia Right to Carry Act, that allows permit holders to carry firearms in government buildings that do not have active security screenings, and to carry firearms in bars and churches with the consent of property owners.
Boards of education now can choose to arm personnel at schools; hunters now can use mufflers; and Georgia’s governor cannot confiscate firearms or deny a person the right to possess a weapon during a State of Emergency, according to Gasaway.
Gasaway was a member of the Georgia General Assembly when it passed the Federal Abortion Mandate Opt-Out Act, making it illegal for taxpayer money to be used to fund elective abortions.
Gasaway is a proponent of a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget.
“Our country and state have emerged from the worst economic contraction since the 1930s,” Gasaway said. “Cuts were made to all areas of state government. Education is over half the entire state budget, and cuts were unavoidable. Since recovering, we have seen the largest increases to state education spending in the history of Georgia. Prior to the economic crash, Georgia was at the top among Southeastern states in education spending per student. This history shows that the people of Georgia are willing to invest heavily in education. As education funding increases, it is important that we continue to look for efficiencies in how taxpayer money is being spent.”
As a founding member of the Savannah River Caucus, Gasaway worked with a team of Georgia and South Carolina legislators to influence the Corps of Engineers to focus on economic development factors when making lake level decisions.
Working to keep Lake Hartwell full all summer will have a huge impact on the Northeast Georgia economy, Gasaway said.
Another area of concern for Gasaway is the trend of Georgia becoming a dumping ground for other states. During the 2018 General Assembly, Gasaway introduced a bill to impose an excise tax on coal ash.
Stacy Hall, 50, of Clarkesville currently serves in his second year as chairman of the Habersham County Commission. He was elected to the commission in 2016. A former educator, he and his wife Ivy own a real estate development business.
Hall, who identifies as a conservative Republican, is certified pro-life by the Georgia Life Alliance and is endorsed by Georgia Carry, the Georgia Chamber, and Georgians for Lawsuit Reform.
“I’m a born-again Christian who loves his wife, family and community,” Hall said. “My wife Ivy and I have been married for 19 years. We are the parents of two energetic teenagers and serve as a host family for two incredible international students at Truett McConnell University.”
Hall said he brings a unique blend of experience that would benefit District 50, having worked in a corporate setting for more than 13 years, having taught at every level of education from elementary to graduate-level as well as special needs.
He served as chairman of the Hospital Authority of Habersham County in 2018, chairman of the White County Chamber of Commerce in 2014-2015, is a 2015 graduate of both Leadership Habersham and Leadership Georgia, and a 2013 graduate of the Georgia Academy of economic development.
“I am also a member of Level Grove Baptist Church, Habersham County GOP, Habersham County Chamber of Commerce, NRA and Georgia Carry and I volunteer as a youth basketball coach,” Hall said. “God has prepared me for the role of service; I have done my best to honor that calling in my community. I now seek to serve the people of Senate District 50 using my experiences in business, education and local government to enrich the lives of my family, friends and neighbors.”
Hall said he will support the Constitution, Second Amendment rights, rights of the unborn, farmers, educators and attracting new jobs to the area.
Bo Hatchett, 30, of Cornelia is a Cornelia attorney and owns a real estate business.
Hatchett, who identifies as very conservative, was raised in Demorest. He attended Georgia Tech, where he earned his biology degree. Hatchett went on to graduate from the University of Georgia School of Law. He now practices law at the firm of Cathey and Strain LLC, based in Cornelia.
Hatchett and his wife, Ashley, are proud parents of 2-year-old Hallie and infant Hazel.
“I want to defend our Northeast Georgia values against the rising wave of socialism,” Hatchett said. “I am passionate about protecting the community that raised me and the principles we stand for.”
A 100% pro-life candidate, Hatchett said he will fight to restore and protect Second Amendment gun rights.
In the healthcare realm, Hatchett said decisions should be made between doctors and patients, not insurance companies. He said he will support patient-centered healthcare that keeps government out of patients’ business.
Hatchett said he was an original 2016 primary supporter of President Donald Trump and said, like Trump, he is a businessman and a political outsider.
Hatchett said he will work in the General Assembly to continue cutting taxes and reducing unnecessary and burdensome regulations on small businesses.
Tricia Hise, 43, is a Habersham County attorney who is a partner in the law firm Hotard & Hise in Clarkesville. She and her husband own a home renovations business.
A native of Habersham County, Hise resides in Cornelia with her husband, Nathan Dilday, an agricultural lender, and their son, Max. She and her family attend First Baptist Church of Cornelia.
Hise graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in political science and earned her Juris Doctor from Southwestern Law School.
“I am a Christian conservative, dedicated to the principles of the Constitution, including our guaranteed right to bear arms under the Second Amendment,” Hise said. “I believe in protecting all life and will work tirelessly to defend our Constitution, to protect the unborn, to promote businesses, including our No. 1 business – agriculture.”
Hise serves on the board of the Habersham Chamber of Commerce, where she chairs the Governmental Affairs Committee. She previously has held state board positions on the Georgia State Property Commission and the Georgia Building Authority.
Hise formerly served as assistant district attorney for the Mountain Judicial Circuit and is a POST-certified law enforcement officer.
Hise is a graduate of the 2019 Republican Leadership for Georgia, for which she serves as Class President, and is a 2018 graduate of the Zell Miller Leadership Institute and Leadership Habersham.
Hise said she is deeply committed to victims of domestic violence and has donated countless hours of pro bono legal services to victims in need through the Circle of Hope, F.A.I.T.H., and Powerhouse for Kids. She is past president of the Mountain Judicial Circuit Bar Association. Currently, Hise serves as attorney coach for the student members of the Habersham Central Mock Trial Team.
Hise said over-taxation on businesses is detrimental, money that could be used to hire new people and to reinvest in the community.
Over the past four years, Hise has driven more than 200,000 miles, mostly in District 50, and she said she recognizes transportation funding is desperately needing to improve roads and bridges.
Criminal street gangs are another concern for Hise, so she said she will work to ensure that area law enforcement agencies get the funding, training and supported needed from the state.
Hise said she will work with chambers of commerce, development authorities, economic developers, local government, small business owners and local citizens to make sure the region is in the best position to support local small businesses, to attract the right new business and industry and to safeguard the beauty of rural Northeast Georgia.
Lee Moore, 43, of Franklin Springs has served as mayor of that city for 10 years. The former educator owns Moore Vault Company.
Moore grew up in Franklin County, and graduated from Emmanuel College with a bachelor of science in education. An Eagle Scout and an avid outdoorsman, he is married to Misty Osley Moore, a Lavonia native, and the couple have three children, Rylee, Macy and Eli. The Moores attend Franklin Springs Pentecostal Holiness Church.
During his time as mayor, Franklin Springs eliminated debt, increased salaries for city employees and provided health, life, and cancer insurance. Franklin Springs updated its water and sewer infrastructure, repaired roads and invested in state-of-the-art equipment for the city’s police and fire departments, all while cutting taxes.
Owner and president of Moore Vault Company since 2008, Moore taught public school at the elementary, middle and high school levels and coached football and track prior to that.
Moore is a 2016 graduate of Leadership Georgia.
Moore said he is committed to protecting the region’s agriculture interests, will work to improve our roads and infrastructure and prioritize education for Georgia’s students.
Identifying as a conservative Republican, Moore is pro-life, pro-gun and supports law enforcement and first responders.
Issues of concern to Moore are expanding broadband, defending gun owners and standing up for farmers.
“It is 2020 and our families, friends, neighbors, farms, schools and businesses continue to suffer due to lack of high-speed broadband and internet connectivity in our region,” Moore said. “Broadband access is a necessity for education, businesses, healthcare and for our farmers.”
Moore said he has been around agriculture his whole life and his family lives on a farm in Franklin County. He said he will work to rein in government overreach and help Georgia’s agriculture industry remain competitive in a global market.
Married to a first-grade teacher, Moore said he knows there is nothing more important than providing a quality education for children and said he make securing proper education funding a priority in the state Senate so Georgia’s students can succeed and reach their God given potential.
In order for Georgia to remain the No. 1 state for businesses to create jobs to bring more opportunities to North Georgia, Moore said the state must invest in infrastructure improvements like roads, bridges, high-speed broadband, and water and sewer projects.
The winner of the Republican Primary (or a runoff if needed) will face Democrat Dee Dailey in November.