The head of the Forsyth County Republican Party announced she will run for higher office, and a former Forsyth County Board of Commissioners candidate will attempt to take her place.
Forsyth County GOP Chair Carolyn Hall Fisher said she will not run for the position again because she is instead pursuing the state party’s first vice chair seat. Justin Hawkins, who ran for District 5 Commissioner in 2016, announced his intention to run for her soon-to-be-vacant position.
“I think that the Republican Party here in Forsyth County has gotten back on track and moving along really quite well, and I think the state party needs some help,” Fisher said. “So I decided to throw my hat in the ring and run for first vice chair of the state party.”
Fisher said it is “really quite bittersweet to not be running again” for the local seat and that, if elected, wants to be a bridge between the state chairman and grass roots organizations.
“I’m willing to travel to any county that needs me. I’ll do workshops. I’ll do whatever I can to ensure them they are able to continue to elect good, solid, conservative Republicans at the local as well as the state level,” she said.
The next Forsyth County GOP chair will be decided on March 18 at the county convention, though the state’s first vice chair will not be decided until the state convention on June 2 and 3 in Augusta.
Fisher, who has previously served as first and second vice chair to the local party and was a delegate to 2016’s Republican National Convention, said the county party has a Federal Elections Commission account, meaning she is not allowed to run for both seats and had to make a choice.
“I don’t think it would be fair to the party for me to run and hopefully win as chairman and then win as first vice chair of the state and have to resign,” she said. “I’m not a quitter, and I don’t want to do that to these people.”
She said she also wants to ward off any Democratic gains in the state, especially at local government levels.
“I’m afraid with the way that the Democrats are coming after us that we might start losing some of these little, local races, and we don’t need to do that,” Fisher said.
Fisher had high praise for Hawkins, who she said is the only person she knows of who is running.
“He is without a doubt one of the most intelligent, well-spoken young men I have ever met,” she said. “If ever we needed a face to be the future of this party, it’s Justin Hawkins.”
Hawkins, who was selected as the county party’s treasurer in 2015, said he wants to carry on Fisher’s work.
“My plan and my vision for the Forsyth County Republican Party is very simple: we’re the most affluent county in the entire state of Georgia. Our bank account and fundraising network should reflect that,” he said.
He also said his youth, which opponents attempted to use against him in the commission race last year, sets him apart and that, like Fisher, he wants local candidates to be prepared for races against Democrats, which he said are growing in Forsyth County, including a 12 percent increase in Democratic votes in one south Forsyth precinct.
“I’m 25 years old and a millennial. I’m not the typical Republican Party messenger, so it’s going to be my job to continue what Carolyn has done in terms of growing the precinct chair pipeline,” Hawkins said.
“What that means is getting our precinct with energized, innovative workers — not just members of the Republican Party, but workers,” he said, “to defeat an increasingly Democratic presence here in Forsyth and across the state of Georgia.”