In this year’s race for the District 1 seat in the Georgia Senate, a Republican incumbent is vying for his first full term against a political newcomer backed by the Democratic Party.
Earl “Buddy” Carter, 53, the Republican incumbent, is running for his first full term as the senator for District 1, which includes Bryan and parts of Chatham and Liberty counties. The Pooler resident was elected last year to replace the vacancy left by Eric Johnson.
“Obviously after one year in the senate, I want to continue on and continue to serve the people of the 1st District,” he said.
Carry Smith is campaigning on the Democratic ticket to unseat Carter. A recent graduate of Savannah State University, Smith said she is running to give everyday people a voice in the Senate.
"Honestly, I feel that as a young person, I am inheriting a mess,” the 29-year-old said. “I’m not part of the establishment. I want to make sure the government involves the everyday person.”
Carter, a pharmacist, said that during his time as senator, he helped pass a law that let Bryan County hold meetings in its new administrative complex in South Bryan, and a law that allowed a land owner to donate a tract of land in J.F. Gregory Park instead of making the city of Richmond Hill buy it.
Carter said spurring economic development will be his top priority if he is elected to a full, two-year term.
“[I want to] help our state come out of this economic downturn,” he said.
Bryan County is ripe for some economic development, and Carter said he wants to make sure that the county has the right infrastructure in place to attract and handle as many businesses as possible.
Smith moved to Savannah from Dunlap, Tenn., in 2006 to pursue a master’s degree in urban planning. She graduated last year, is currently an adjunct professor at Savannah State University and is also working on obtaining a master’s degree in business administration.
Smith said her campaign is focused on economic development, education and environmental sustainability. She said that she’d work on investing in education and streamlining budgets and bringing green jobs to the area, such as a company that makes solar panels.
As for Bryan County, Smith said she’d work to bring more industry, shopping centers and big businesses to the area.
“It’s great that we have Pooler and Port Wentworth, but we need something there,” she said.
Smith said she is qualified to serve as a state senator because she also has a bachelor’s degree in political science and was an intern for the Savannah-Chatham County Metropolitan Planning Commission. Smith also pointed to growing up in the shadow of her father, Barry Smith, who served as a county commissioner and school board member in her hometown.
“I was raised up in politics,” she said.
Carter pointed to his years of experience that he said makes him qualified to serve a full term as a state senator. He was the mayor of Pooler from 1996 to 2005, and then served in the Georgia House of Representatives until he was elected as a senator last year.
“I think I have the proven ability and experience to serve people of the 1st District,” he said.