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8 candidates will be on the ballot for US House seat

3 qualify for Georgia Senate post

POSTED: March 31, 2010 11:23 p.m.

Eight candidates signed up with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office this week to complete the unexpired term of U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal.

Voters will be able to choose among those candidates and the three seeking to become Hall County’s state senator — a seat left vacant by a candidate for Deal’s seat — on May 11.

Deal, an 18-year Republican representative of Georgia’s 9th District in the U.S. House of Representatives, resigned his post on March 21 to focus on his campaign for Georgia governor.

By Wednesday, six Republicans, one Democrat and one Independent candidate paid the qualifying fees to take Deal’s place. One of those Republicans was state Sen. Lee Hawkins, who resigned from the Georgia Senate last week to pursue Deal’s congressional seat.

Hawkins’ district, Senate District 49, comprises Hall County and portions of Jackson County.

Two Republicans and one Libertarian candidate have qualified to take Hawkins’ place.

A closer look at the candidates:

9th Congressional District

Chris Cates
Age: 53
Party: Republican
Residence: Blairsville
Political experience: This is Cates’ first campaign for elected office.
Background: As an interventional cardiologist, Dr. Cates most recently was the director of vascular intervention at Emory University Hospital and Emory’s Crawford Long Hospital. He helped open the catheterization laboratory at Lanier Park hospital in Gainesville. Cates and his wife, Joy, have been married for 30 years. They have three grown children and a grandchild on the way.

Mike Freeman
Age: 71
Party: Democratic
Residence: Oakwood
Political experience: This is Freeman’s first campaign for elected office.
Background: Freeman is the chairman of the Hall County Democrats. He has been an ordained Episcopal minister since 1965. In 1997, Freeman started St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church in Oakwood. He retired from his position as a chaplain in the U.S. Navy Reserve in 2000. Mike and his wife, Pat, have four children and eight grandchildren.

Tom Graves
Age: 40
Party: Republican
Residence: Ranger
Political experience: Graves was serving his fourth term in the state House of Representatives representing House District 12 until he resigned to participate in the special election.
Background: Graves is a small business owner. He owns and manages multifamily housing and commercial real estate properties. Graves grew up in White. He and his wife, Julie, have three children.

Lee Hawkins
Age: 59
Party: Republican
Residence: Gainesville
Political experience: Hawkins first entered the political arena when he ran for state Senate in 2005, representing all of Hall and portions of Jackson County. He served until March when he resigned to qualify for the special election.
Background: A native of Hall County and a former president of the Georgia Dental Association, Hawkins has been practicing dentistry in Gainesville since 1978. He and his wife, Sharon, have seven children.

Bert Loftman
Age: 68
Party: Republican
Residence: Pickens County
Political experience: Loftman ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 1998.
Background: Loftman was born in Cleveland, Ohio, but has lived in Pickens County since 1999. Loftman served in the U.S. Army as a doctor in Vietnam. He retired from his neurosurgery medical practice in 2005. He and his wife Bunny have been married for 46 years. They have three children and five grandchildren.

Eugene Moon
Age: 41
Party: None
Residence: Gainesville
Political experience: This is Moon’s first campaign for elected office.
Background: Moon is the marketing manager at Lincoln Electric Co. The longtime Gainesville resident and his wife, Rose Camacho Moon, have three daughters.

Bill Stephens
Age: 53
Party: Republican
Residence: Cumming
Political experience: Stephens spent eight years in the state Senate and was a former floor leader, and was once the spokesman for former Georgia Gov. Zell Miller. He campaigned unsuccessfully for Secretary of State in 2006.
Background: Stephens spent more than 10 years in the banking industry in Gainesville and North Georgia and is currently vice president of Southern Highlands. Stephens is a native of Fannin County, but currently lives in Cumming. He and his wife, Shannon, have five sons.

Steve Tarvin
Age: 59
Party: Republican
Residence: Chickamauga
Political experience: He resigned from his first term on the Chickamauga City Council to participate in the 9th District special election
Background: Tarvin is a native of Chickamauga where he is currently a cattle farmer and the president and chief executive officer of Crystal Springs Print Works, a local textile mill. He and his wife, Jennifer, have two children and four grandchildren.

Georgia Senate District 49

Brandon Givens
Age: 31
Party: Libertarian
Residence: Gainesville
Political experience: Givens campaigned unsuccessfully for Public Service Commission in 2008.
Background: Givens was born in Helena, Ark., but he’s lived in Gainesville for seven years. For the past two years, he’s been employed with New Holland Elementary as a special education teacher. Prior to that, he ran the Coffee News and worked for Hall County Schools. He has a master’s degree in special education.

Jimmy Norman
Age: 54
Party: Republican
Residence: Flowery Branch
Political experience: Norman campaigned unsuccessfully in the late 1980s for a state House of Representatives seat representing a Clayton County district.
Background: Norman was born in Atlanta, and has lived in Flowery Branch with his wife, Pamela, for four years. He is a real estate broker and developer who owns Jimmy Norman Realty Inc., H&M Development Co. Inc. and Williamsburg Construction Co.

Butch Miller
Age: 52
Party: Republican
Residence: Flowery Branch
Political experience: This is Miller’s first attempt at elected office.
Background: A native of Buford, Miller is an owner and dealer manager of the Milton Martin Honda dealership in Gainesville. He and his wife, Teresa, have two children and live in Flowery Branch.



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