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Knox running for insurance chief
Veteran lawmaker joins GOP field
Purcell Gary
Gary Purcell - photo by Submitted


* County's stature grows in state.

After nearly a decade of service in the state House, Republican Tom Knox has announced he will run for state insurance and safety fire commissioner.

The District 24 state representative from Cumming has served as chairman of the House Insurance Committee since the Republican Party became the majority in 2002.

“I’ve been either working in the industry or representing people who have insurance problems for the last 30 years,” said Knox, an attorney. “I have known for a long time that we’ve had some serious problems in Georgia that need to be corrected.”

Knox is not the only county resident to throw his hat in the ring for the state office. Gerry Purcell, who launched his campaign in April, also lives in Forsyth.

The local men join about six other Democrats and Republicans seeking the office, which John Oxendine has held since 1995. Oxendine is seeking the Republican nomination for governor in 2010.

Established in 1887, the office oversees the monitoring of insurance companies, licensing insurance agents and regulating industrial loan offices.

The commissioner also is responsible for providing fire safety education and enforcement on the state and federal fire codes. The commissioner’s duties are designed to protect rights of residents in insurance transactions.

Purcell said having two statewide candidates from the same county is a good representation of the county, though it “does dilute our opportunity to represent the state because we are pulling from the same voter pool.”

“I think it is wonderful that our county produces the caliber of leaders that we do, and I think the state will see more and more examples of that in the future,” Purcell said. “I welcome and congratulate Tom Knox’s decision to run.”

Purcell, a former Kaiser Permanente licensed agent, has been an advocate for transparency and disclosure on health care.

He said his knowledge in the industry sets him apart from his competitors, many of whom have no hands-on experience in health care.
Knox said he welcomes the competition.

“I have a lot more experience than anybody that has talked about running, I have more of a desire to do it, and I understand the issues better,” Knox said. “I don’t run my race depending on what somebody else is doing. I’m going to run my race based on what I need to do, what I’m for and not for what I’m against.”

Knox said he will not endorse any candidates for the state House seat he is vacating.

“I think there are probably some good folks out there, but I think it’s probably best for the people to make up their own minds,” he said. “And I think once you are not involved in it yourself, you need to stay away from it.”

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