Two Democratic Party candidates are in the only countywide race during this year’s Liberty County elections, so the outcome likely will be determined with the July 31 primary.
Until then, county commission chairman candidates Donald L. Lovette and Maxie R. Jones IV will knock on doors, seeking support from potential constituents.
Both men said they only recently began fundraising and neither disclosed amounts raised.
Lovette, who is director of laboratory service at Liberty Regional Medical Center, has served almost 22 years as an elected official.
Jones, a fiber supply department operator at Interstate Paper, is a newcomer to the politics, but he said he’s been paying attention. He also has relatives involved in government.
Jones’ brother, Virgil Jones, is the Liberty County Tax commissioner, and his sister, Karen Jones Jemison, is a co-chairwoman on the Liberty County Democratic Committee, he said. Their father, the late Maxie Jones Jr., served 20 years with the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office before retiring as a detective.
“I was born to serve, but I’ve always resisted the call …,” Jones said. “I’ve watched the county grow over my life and the years that I’ve been here, and I’ve seen good and bad, and the present commission, while they have commendable accomplishments … I sort of got disenfranchised with what I see going on.”
Jones has served 15 years as vice-president of the local chapter of the United Steel Workers Association, a group he joined when he began working for Interstate Paper 34 years ago, he said. In that role, he helps lead meetings, recruits and registers new members.
A time of thinking, praying and urging from others convinced Jones to seek the office, he added.
“I hear complaints from my fellow citizens, people I work with, even my family members, who are not completely satisfied with status quo,” he said.
A Midway resident, Jones said he would place more emphasis on recreation in the east end of the county and would try to expand facilities to include more parks, basketball courts and gymnasiums.
If elected, Jones said he would try to make the commission more accessible through town hall meetings and possibly broadcasting meetings to increase accountability to constituents.
Conservation and preservation are top priorities for Jones, especially at the coast and Sunbury. He also would like to increase tourism by more strongly marketing the area’s points of interest.
“I would like the people of Liberty County to know that I am one of them,” Jones said. “And I would love an opportunity — just a chance — to show what I have to offer. I feel that I have a lot to contribute, that I could offer along with the present commission to move the county forward, as they have done remarkably — but I would like to put my stamp on where Liberty County goes.”
Lovette, on the other hand, already has his stamp on the county’s movements.
He served as the District 2 commissioner from 2002 until May, when he was required to vacate his seat upon qualifying for chairman.
“A person does not have to be elected to care about their community or to give service to their community, so whether I’m a commissioner or not, I will always have a deep and a binding love in my heart for what goes on in the county,” he said, adding he will still attend BoC meetings.
Lovette also served the school board as District 5 representative from 1986-1998. He had a hand in naming Lewis Frasier and Snelson-Golden middle schools and served as vice chairman.
In 1998, he launched a bid for BoE chairman, but lost to Barbara Martin.
Lovette said he chose to launch a second countywide bid when he found out that current commission Chairman John McIver would not seek re-election.
“I am so pleased with the progress of the county, and having been a part of the past and having the insight or the taste of the future, I want to be a part of that,” Lovette said. “Yes, I could do it from the district level, and certainly I admire the service of Chairman McIver, and he has done a good job of pushing our county to maximize its potential, and I just think I could help with that.”
Priorities for Lovette include maximizing efficiency within county departments, improving and beautifying the county gateways and ensuring that the entire community continues its collaboration.
“I’m the vice president on the board of directors for Savannah Tech, and I want to always make sure that that bond is there between the community and our technical college. I want to ensure that our local people are qualified for the industry that is here,” he said.
Lovette held multiple terms as chairman for the Hinesville Downtown Development Authority board and is the founder of a theater company, Love-It Productions.
“In this day and age, when the economy is what it is, and … when it is so very important to use the bridges that have been built, I have those experiences,” Lovette said.