FORSYTH COUNTY — Another potential race is shaping up this spring for a seat on the Forsyth County commission.
Justin Hawkins, a pharmaceutical sales representative, announced his intention to challenge incumbent Jim Boff for the District 5 post in the Republican primary on May 24.
Hawkins, who previously worked at the Cumming law firm of Lipscomb, Johnson, Sleister, Dailey and Smith, said his time in the legal world has given him some insight into the process that others may not have.
“I think I have the unique experience of working in the legal arena in land use and zoning with the firm,” he said. “… Some may be alerted when they hear that. But I realized early on that I was in a world of contradiction, so I left that arena and went into pharmaceutical sales.”
Reached for comment last week, Boff confirmed he will be seeking re-election this year. As for Hawkins, Boff said his potential opponent seemed young and confused on some issues.
Commissioners in Forsyth are elected by district-only voting. District 5 covers much of eastern Forsyth. Qualifying for the primary is set for March 7-11.
Hawkins is the second political hopeful to announce a bid this month. Earlier in January, local business executive and investment adviser Rick Swope said he will run for the District 2 post held by Brian Tam.
Tam, who was first elected in 2004, has not declared whether he will seek a fourth term. District 2 includes most of south Forsyth. Qualifying for the primary is set for March 7-11.
The District 4, or north Forsyth, post is also up for re-election this year. It is held by Cindy Jones Mills.
Hawkins, who is not married or a homeowner, has lived in Forsyth County for most of his life, first in the Three Chimneys neighborhood and currently in James Creek.
A 2010 graduate of South Forsyth High School, he went to graduate cum laude from Kennesaw State University with a degree in political science.
He was treasurer of the Forsyth County Republican party until resigning the position last week to avoid a conflict of interest while pursuing the commission seat.
Hawkins said the county is in a “critical crossroads” after years of “rampant, unchecked residential growth” in south Forsyth.
“I really feel strongly about residential growth and not only abiding by the [unified development code] but also strengthening it and bringing back zoning categories that really built the fabric of south Forsyth,” he said.
Hawkins is also interested in attracting new, technology-driven businesses to the county.
“When it comes to commercial growth, I really want to foster an environment where we can compete with surrounding [areas], like north Fulton, for those high-tech corporations along the [Ga.] 400 corridor,” Hawkins said.
He added that he gives voters something different from the status quo.
“My candidacy is unique. As many have seen, I’m in my mid-20s, which is an outlier to the current political landscape,” he said.
“I believe that people will view it as an asset, when they really get to know me, because not only will I have the experience, which is tied with my age, but I have more urgency than most to solve the challenges that confront us and really lay out a 20- to 30-year vision, so we can have a sustainable and desirable future.”