Three locals have announced their bids to run as Republicans for the state House District 5 seat in the upcoming special election, which was prompted by the death of Rep. John Meadows last month.
Scott Tidwell, a local pastor and licensed insurance agent, Jesse L. Vaughn, a local attorney, and Larry Massey, a Gordon County Board of Education member, both announced their bids for the seat this week. The special election is set for Jan. 8, 2019, with early voting set to begin Dec. 17. Qualifying opens today and ends Friday.
Tidwell, of Resaca, is the pastor of Prayer Baptist Church and recently joined Liberty National as an insurance agent. He is a graduate of the Andersonville Theological Seminary, a husband to Charity Tidwell and father of four children: Lindsey, 23; LeAnn, 22; AJ, 19; and Owen, 14.
Through his involvement with the local Republican Party, Tidwell has served as the District 14 central regional director and as a delegate to the county, district and state conventions. He also has been involved with local elections, working as a poll worker since 2010.
Tidwell described himself as a “conservative voice in the wilderness of politics” who aims to put “Georgia citizens first.” He said he wants to cut the red tape in government and give more local control back to Calhoun and Gordon County.
“I think local control is the best across the board,” he said.
Last spring, Tidwell ran against state Sen. Chuck Payne, R-Dalton, in the Republican primary for the District 54 seat. Payne defeated Tidwell with 52 percent of the vote.
In deciding to run for the District 5 House seat, Tidwell said he feels “compelled by the Lord” to run for public office and serve his community and state. He said he hopes to follow the example of Meadows in listening to the needs of Calhoun and Gordon County by keeping an “open-door policy” and working to see they are fulfilled. Also, as a pastor, he said he hopes to be a Christian voice at the Capitol and work to push religious freedom legislation forward.
Vaughn, an attorney at Vaughn & Clements in Calhoun, said he has the “hope to unite and represent all people of the district.”
“In the last two weeks, I have been contacted by many people from across our community, from elected officials to everyday working folks, from business owners to teachers and school administrators, from elderly to young people, and they have all asked that I seek the seat vacated due to the untimely death of Representative John Meadows,” said Vaughn. “Therefore, in answer to this call from my fellow citizens, I announce my candidacy for Georgia House District 5.”
Vaughn, a lifelong resident of Gordon County, is the son of Bert and Anne Vaughn. His father was the pastor of Calhoun First Baptist Church — where Vaughn is now a deacon — and his mom taught and served in the administration in the Gordon County school system. His upbringing taught him to “serve the greater good” through both his professional and personal life, according to a news release.
Vaughn graduated from Calhoun High School in 1991 and attended Mercer University, receiving both his undergraduate degree and law degree. While at Mercer, he was involved with numerous student groups in leadership capacities, including the Baptist Student Union and Defender/Advocate Society.
After graduating from Mercer and being admitted to the bar in 1998, Vaughn returned home to Calhoun to practice law. He started his own law firm in 2006.
His community involvement includes graduating from the Gordon County Chamber of Commerce leadership program in 2000, serving on the board of directors for the Chamber — helping to establish the Community and Government Affairs Committee — and being a member of the Habitat for Humanity Gordon County Board of Directors, currently serving as board chairman.
Vaughn has two children, Sarah Beth and Hudson, with his wife, Christy Hudson Vaughn, who teaches eighth-grade at Ashworth Middle School.
"It is with much prayer and an outpouring of encouragement that I announce my candidacy for State House District 5," said Massey in a news release. "The untimely passing of our House Representative John Meadows has left this vacancy and a special election will be held on January 8, 2019."
Massey is a current member of the Gordon County Board of Education. However, he will leave his post on the board at the end of the year after losing a re-election bid to Eddie Hall in the Republican primary in May.
"I’m the candidate with the record of service to our community," said Massey. "I’m a decorated Marine combat pilot from both Afghanistan and Iraq. I am a Christian Conservative and a Lifelong Republican. I promise to be available and open to work as a community servant for this area I love so much."
If elected, Massey said he plans to focus on improving education, lowering taxes, passing religious freedom legislation and maintaining the protections of the Second Amendment.
Massey is married to Amy Johnson Massey. They have two daughters in the Gordon County school system: Atherton, 13, and Aughton, 8.