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Two enter District 3 commission race
No decision yet from incumbent
Shorr Josh
Josh Shorr - photo by Submitted
Jim Harrell has not said whether he will seek re-election to the Forsyth County commission this year.

But if he does, he will have some friendly competition as two Forsyth residents have announced their plans to run for the District 3 post.

Republicans Joshua Shorr and Marty Byars made known their intent to seek the seat on the commission late last week.

Qualifying for the July primary is in late April.

Byars, owner of Byars Funeral Home and Cremation Services, and Shorr, a financial planning entrepreneur, both said Harrell’s service had no bearing on their decision to run.

“I have nothing against him,” said Byars, 48. “This has nothing to do with him. It has to do with being something I’ve always had the heart to be. It wouldn’t have mattered who is in office, really.”

Shorr, 39, said his background as an educator, attorney and financial planner can help the county better deal with budget decisions during this difficult economic time.

“Have there been decisions that have been questionable when it comes to the budget and the economy? Yeah, absolutely,” he said.

“That’s what really got me thinking about it ... I think my background equips me with the skill set needed to improve the quality of life for Forsyth County residents.”

The race will be one of two this year on the commission, both of which will be under the new district-specific election format.  

Only voters in District 3, which includes the southwestern corner of the county, can vote in the race.

Previously, candidates had to live in their district, but were elected countywide.

Forsyth County's state legislative delegation got the switch approved last year after voters overwhelming backed the idea in a July 2008 referendum.

The second race under the new setup will be for District 1, currently held by Charles Laughinghouse.

Laughinghouse has not said whether he will seek re-election to the post, which covers some of Cumming and much of western Forsyth.

That race has drawn one hopeful, Pete Amos, who declared his candidacy last summer.

Both District 3 candidates boast long lists of memberships and community service and civic organizations.

Shorr has served with Hands on Forsyth, is an officer with the Rotary Club of Lanier-Forsyth and is chairman of the Forsyth Conservative Forum.

Byars is a past board member of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, as well as a Kiwanis Club past president and YMCA board member.

Byars said his communication skills would be an asset if he is elected to serve on the commission. He also said he would push for better dialogue between Cumming and the county, which is “extremely lacking right now.”

“We need better communications with the city as it relates to the water issue that we have right now,” he said.

Byars said his wife, Cindy, was happy about his decision to vie for the leadership role. The two have a 6-year-old son Paxton, and Byars has two other children, 20-year-old Taylor and 16-year-old Shelton.

Byars said he wouldn’t make any campaign promises he couldn’t keep.

“All people want from you is just to be honest and open and forthright and not make campaign promises just to get into office,” he said. “I am a very good communicator with people. I have an open door policy. I want to be very accessible to people.”

Shorr said he has a five-pronged system of goals that includes fiscal discipline, accountability, cutting government waste, transparency and stewardship.

“We are going to need someone, and I think I have this ability, who can manage growth in this county in a thoughtful way,” he said.

“It’s important to provide taxpayers with a voice to be heard on the county commission and I think that is something I will be able to bring.”

Shorr’s wife Stacey, who is pregnant with the couple’s second child, has been supportive of his decision. But it was actually his 10-year-old daughter, Natalie, who sealed the deal.

He said she asked, “What if you never get this opportunity again to make a difference?"

“When she first said it, I just kind of laughed it off, but then it sunk in later that night," he said. “It just really hit home.

“I want to make a difference.”