By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Commission chairman being challenged
Election 2016
Matt Mattingly
Matt Mattingly is running as a Republican for Liberty County Commission chairman. - photo by Photo provided.

While much of the country’s collective focus is on the race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, there are a handful of contested races of local importance going on in Liberty County. As a result, candidates seeking to represent residents as county commission chairman, District 4 commissioner and sheriff are asking for your vote.

Below are profiles on incumbent county commission chairman Donald Lovette, a Democrat, and his Republican challengerMatt Mattingly.

Profiles on District 4 incumbent Pat Bowen, a Democrat, and Republican challenger Ted Eby, will run Sunday.

Donald Lovette:

Lovette, 61, is a native of Liberty County and is the current cirector of laboratories at Liberty Regional Medical Center. He earned his diploma from North Georgia Technical College and bachelor’s degree from Brewton-Parker College. Lovette is divorced and has two children.

Q: Why are you running?

A: I have had the honor of participating in the operation of Liberty County Government for 14 years. Ten years of that was as a District 2 commissioner. These past four years have allowed me to foster increased civic engagement, enhanced collaboration between Fort Stewart and each municipality, increased commercial growth, increased educational opportunities, concentration on workforce development, new attention to improving, promoting and beautifying our county gateways and the recent opening of Liberty County’s re-entry program. All these things are but the beginning of the vast opportunities that lie ahead for Liberty County. I want to ensure the forward progress of our county.

Q: Why should voters re-elect you?

A: I am Liberty County’s greatest cheerleader. I am "Liberty County Proud." I have the experience, the established collaborations, and the vision for a progressive county. I am well versed in the heartbeat of Liberty County. Having served with the Hinesville Downtown Association, Hinesville Development Authority, Liberty County Development Authority, Savannah Technical College Board of Directors and numerous other affiliations has given me the tools I need to help lead Liberty County to the next level. We are on the brink of unparalleled commercial growth. I want to be that champion that works tirelessly to position Liberty County as the convening community of Southeast Georgia outside of Savannah. We have to develop inviting communities for all income levels, attract higher paying jobs, ensure expanded educational opportunities and nurture the appreciation, promotion and utilization of our rich cultural/recreational opportunities.

Q: What are three issues you want to address or solve if you are elected? Why?

A: The establishment of a countywide fire service. Our county fire departments are manned by volunteers who work during the day. Our county needs a paid fire staff to answer the calls 24-7. In many areas it would lower ISO ratings and homeowner’s insurance premiums.

Identify funding from the Georgia Department of Transportation to pave more dirt roads and make more road safety improvement in Liberty County. Liberty County has more than 50 miles of dirt roads.

Continue to pay down the debt on the justice center and airport. After this SPLOST I would hope that the county commissioners and municipalities would set aside the appropriate amount of the next round of SPLOST funds to pay off that debt or at least most of it.

- Construction of a new Health Department. Our present Health Department is no longer suited to provide modern and efficient services. It is woefully outdated. I would like to identify a funding source in collaboration with State Rep. Al Williams to fund it. If not, then I would suggest this become a priority item on the next SPLOST.

Establishment of the Youth Commission to foster the knowledge and understanding of county government by our young people by providing internship opportunities.

Finding a use for the former Labor Department building at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Main Street. It has been sitting there idle for too long. It needs to be put back into circulation. It would be another great revitalization project for Liberty County/Hinesville. The time has come to make this happen.

Q: Do you support the special purpose local option sales tax? Why or why not?

A: Yes. It is the fairest tax. It has been a blessing to Liberty County to fund a plethora of projects that never would have been funded without SPLOST. This includes our parks, fire vehicles and equipment, ambulances, paved dirt roads, enhanced county historic sites, expanded instruction space at Savannah Technical College, Midway and Hinesville library services, Animal Control Shelter, Liberty County Community Complex/Recreation Center, etc. SPLOST does more than build buildings it builds lives.

Q: Overall, what do you want people to know about you?

A: I am by nature a consensus builder. I am not in this for me. I am in it for the betterment of Liberty County. Also, I have a great heart for young people.

Matt Mattingly:

Mattingly, 63, was born in Painesville, Ohio., He was honorably discharged from the Army in 1983 and has been a self-employed businessman since that time. He is a Georgia state licensed auctioneer and owner of Liberty Auction. Mattingly and his wife Lori E. have raised six children together. The auctioneer is a high-school graduate and said he is "working on my doctorate in the school of hard knocks."

Q: Why are you running?

A: I am running for this position because I love the county I have chosen as home since 1980. I now have an opportunity to give something back to Liberty County and I think we should try to give back when we can in any capacity.

Q: What qualifies you to run for this position?

A: I feel like I’m qualified to be chairman because of my past military leadership abilities and personal business experiences. I feel like Liberty County has not had a leader for quite some time and I want to fill that void. I have two ears and one mouth to listen and serve all the citizens of Liberty County.

I know my business experience will help this county get out of debt and stay out. We have to fix our current financial situation ASAP.

Q: What are three issues you want to address or solve if you are elected? Why?

A: The first thing I want to do is work with our tax collector and take the steps necessary to collect our escrowed property taxes twice a year instead of once. We have this right, it’s our money and basically with an email of the cost of a postage stamp to the mortgage companies and banks who hold this tax money for 12 months, we can receive this surge in cash flow twice a year instead of once. Just by making this simple change Liberty County can save thousands and thousands of dollars in interest. People that don’t escrow their taxes simply have the option to pay half every six months or once a year with no penalty.

Another thing I want to look at is giving Liberty County a makeover as far as being business-friendly. I have heard this as an issue since I opened by first business in Liberty County in 1983. I have also had personal experience with it, owning and being partners in several businesses in the county over the years. I think a lot of this is simply a communication issue between county departments, agencies and commissioners. I am a big believer in almost anything can be fixed with good communication. I want to also research the possibility of the county looking into a county-wide fire department. The way the world is today we need to look at and reevaluate all or our safety issues in the county.

Q: Do you support the special purpose local options sales tax? Why or why not?

A: SPLOST is an important issue to Liberty County this time. As I understand it, we are one of only six counties in the state of Georgia that does not have it. I think our county leaders got caught last time assuming SPLOST would pass on its own and it failed as the result of a silent protest by the voters. Why do you think the county is promoting it so hard this time? It’s because the county is in big financial trouble if it doesn’t pass this time. The big lesson is you don’t spend money you don’t have and if you borrow it you better have a solid plan to pay it back. So my answer is yes I support SPLOST this time but once again I didn’t make this mess, but I am asking the voters of our county to give me the opportunity to do what’s right. I also highly suggest all voters read this SPLOST ballot totally and see what all is included.

Q: Overall, what do you want people to know about you?

I want the voters of Liberty County to know I have the time to dedicate to this chairmanship when elected. I promise to be a statesman for Liberty County and serve all of it people. I plan to take the chairman’s check every month and donate it back every month for the four year term to a cause, charity or individual I feel needs it in Liberty County.

I will give four hours every month of this term to the people of the county to come see and talk with me about any county issue. At the end of this term if I cannot provide a list of positive things the county has done or are working on I will not seek another term.

Please pray for me and Liberty County.

Sign up for our e-newsletters