At the very least, Rusty Blackston has taken a giant leap of faith in his decision to challenge Joel Pitts for the District 3 county commissioners seat vacated by the resignation of Anthony South.
Blackston, 52, will be making his first foray into politics against an opponent who has experience in the political arena.
But don’t let that fool you. Blackston, a beef cattle and chicken farmer, has a good idea of what he wants to accomplish as a county commissioner.
“It’s to the point right now that Upson County needs some new vision,” he said. “I think we need a change in leadership. We have to start looking at every option we can acquire to benefit the community.”
For starters, Blackston said tightening the county’s financial belt and generating new jobs and industry will be at the forefront of his “things to do” list.
“We have to learn to live within our budget and our means. We have to make whatever cutbacks are necessary to survive,” Blackston explained. “The economy, not just in Upson County, but at the state and national level too, is in poor shape right now.
“We’ve got to create industry. One way or another, whatever it takes, we’ve got to get industry in here. We have to keep people here in Upson County. We can’t turn into a bed and breakfast community.
“We are going to have to get busy to give the citizens and the workforce in the county something; we’re going to have to offer them something.
“As it stands right now, Upson County doesn’t have a whole lot to offer.”
As Election 2008 has progressed, a central theme amongst all candidates for the commissioner’s seats and the commission chairmanship has seemed to develop. Upson County and the city of Thomaston must find a way to work together. The proverbial “divides” have to be eliminated for progress. Blackston agrees.
“People are going to have to learn to humble themselves, and they are going to have to work for the good of the community instead of working for themselves and their position and their name,” he noted. “Until that happens, we are going to continue to decline.
“Everybody complains about taxes, but we have to pay our taxes for our services. We need to take a look at cutting back to get the county in the black again.
“We have to operate on a rural budget instead of a metropolitan budget.”
Even though he is a rookie in political circles, Blackston wants voters to give him a chance.
“I hope people will have confidence in me and will give me an opportunity to go in and serve them,” he said. “I don’t want to be a politician; I want to be a servant to the citizens of our community.
“I want to try and make this community a better place to live. I want to see the economics of the community better.
“I want to see people proud of Upson County again.”