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Local lawmakers hail new House speaker
Ties to region may bode well
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Forsyth County News
About David Ralston

• Born: March 14, 1954

• Hometown: Blue Ridge

• Represents: District 7 (portions of Dawson, Fannin, and Gilmer counties)

• Career: Lawyer

• Committees: Vice chair, Judiciary; Appropriations; Governmental Affairs; Transportation
The three members of Forsyth County’s state House delegation are looking forward to their first act of the 2010 legislative session.

When representatives reconvene Jan. 11, the group will elect David Ralston as its new speaker.

Rep. Tom Knox, R-Cumming, has known Ralston for a long time, he said. The two served on the House Judiciary Committee for several years and both are practicing attorneys.

“He’s just got a lot of common sense and I’m expecting he’ll do a great job,” Knox said. “He’s got close ties to folks in north Georgia, including the state representatives from this district.”

Ralston, a Republican from Blue Ridge, is in his third term in the House, following his service as a state senator from 1992-98.

“I’m just very humbled and honored that the majority of the House of Representatives put their confidence in me,” he said Monday. “It’s going to be a tough job, but I’m excited about the challenge.”

Ralston succeeds Glenn Richardson of Hiram, who held the top job in the House for five years.

Reports of an extramarital affair with a lobbyist led to Richardson’s resignation. He also has said he suffered from depression and had attempted suicide.

Speaker Pro Tem Mark Burkhalter of Johns Creek was expected to fill the speaker’s post, but took his name out of the running three days after Richardson announced his resignation.

Ralston represents District 7, which includes parts of Dawson, Gilmer and Fannin counties.

Rep. Amos Amerson’s Ninth District includes some of Dawson, as well as portions of Lumpkin and Forsyth counties.

Amerson said in a statement that having the speaker living in the region could “help attract new businesses to the area.”

“Our area is poised for new growth to replace the old industries that have closed,” he said.

Amerson, a Republican from Dahlonega, noted the strong representation of both House and Senate leadership in north Georgia, saying it “can’t help but increase the attraction to our area.”

“It also carries a greater responsibility to deliver results to our constituents and the rest of the state,” he said.

Rep. Mark Hamilton said he has a good relationship with the Republican Caucus-nominated speaker, calling Ralston a “no-nonsense kind of guy.”

“But he’s also a very nice person,” said Hamilton, a Cumming Republican. “I think it will be good for Forsyth and all of our citizens up here.

“I think he’s the type of speaker that we will be proud to have in the district and proud to have in Forsyth County, and I’m expecting great things from him.”

With so much state service, Ralston won’t need any time adjusting, Knox said.

“He’s been down the road, fought the wars and he’s old enough to have been there, done that, seen the movie and got the T-shirt,” he said.
“Sometimes age and experience helps. He’s got a good track record.”

It’s Ralston’s style of leadership that will help him reach across party lines, Knox said.

“He’s got the right idea,” Knox said. “We’re not in the business just to make life miserable for the Democrats. We’re trying to do something that makes sense for everybody in Georgia.”

Michele Hester of the FCN regional staff contributed to this report.