Hall County Commissioner and Gainesville native Shelly Echols announced Wednesday she is running for State Senate District 49 to succeed Sen. Butch Miller.
Earlier this week Miller announced his campaign for lieutenant governor.
“The 49th Senate district, that district has a long history of effective and strong leaders,” Echols said in a phone interview. “And with my background of being a wife and a mom, and a small biz owner and now as a county commissioner, I think I have a unique perspective that I can take to the Gold Dome.”
During her tenure on the county commission, Echols said she focused on keeping taxes low, putting county employees first with updated policies and a pay raise, and supporting law enforcement and first responders.
She has served on the commission since 2018, when she defeated Scott Gibbs for the District 3 seat. That was the first time she had run for public office.
Echols said she is not a single-issue candidate, but in her May 26 morning campaign announcement she stressed her commitment to, “champion pro-life policies, protect our Second Amendment rights, fight for less government, and never cave to the radical left and their cancel culture.”
Echols plans on supporting law enforcement at the state level, she said, which could include policies preventing police departments from being defunded.
“While I’ve been on the county commission, we’ve given pay raises to our first responders — and that includes our sheriff's deputies,” Echols told The Times. “But I think the encouragement, the moral support, the appreciation — all of those things are even more important than financially supporting their paychecks.
“On a state level, I’m not opposed to passing legislation that police departments can’t be unfunded. That it’s a necessary thing to protect the citizens of the state.”
Echols was born in Gainesville and now lives in Alto. She is a graduate of the University of North Georgia. She is a former Hall County Schools teacher, previously teaching at Johnson and East Hall high schools, and she is a small business owner.
She and her husband, Drew, the CEO of Jaemor Farms, are alumni of the Leadership Georgia Class of 2015.
Her experience at the county level will help at the state level, she said, and keep her focused on how state policies affect her constituents.
“I’ve been a county commissioner, so I understand how decisions made in Atlanta affect the counties with unfunded mandates but also with different things that they pass in local legislation that costs taxpayers money,” Echols said.