Mike Dudgeon has announced his intent to run for the District 24 state House post.
Dudgeon, a member of the Forsyth County Board of Education, made the announcement Tuesday.
“I really have a strong calling to public service and I am fortunate enough to be in a position with my job and financial situation that I can serve in the legislature,” he said. “I feel that I understand our district well and I understand a lot of the issues and interests.”
The House seat is being vacated by Tom Knox, who is running for state insurance and safety fire commissioner.
Dudgeon is the only candidate to have publicly expressed his intent to run for Knox's post.
Former candidate Forsyth County Commissioner Brian Tam announced earlier this month that he would not run for state legislature.
Dudgeon said it was actually Tam’s decision to continue as District 2 commissioner that sparked him to jump in the state House race.
“It wasn’t really too much on my radar, but when Brian stepped away, someone needed to step up and offer themselves to that service, and I decided to do it,” said Dudgeon, adding that he had no interest in running for county commission.
Dudgeon was elected to the school board in 2006. He could have sought re-election this year, but instead decided to pursue higher office.
“I will miss working with Dr. [Buster] Evans and the local board, but at the end of my school board term, I feel I can be of even greater service in Atlanta,” Dudgeon said.
Ann Crow, chairwoman of the school board, said Dudgeon has made a difference in his term on the school board.
“He is a man of integrity," Crow said. "He speaks his mind, but he always has researched anything he speaks about and ... he understands the importance of local communities being involved in the process.
“He’s not somebody that’s going to be played by politics, and he is somebody that will listen and serve the community well.”
Crow said she is sad to see Dudgeon leave the board, but “whole heartedly” supports him in his state race.
A Georgia Tech graduate, Dudgeon has lived in the county for 10 years. He is currently the chief technology officer of Qualia Labs, a computer architecture research startup.
He has also founded an engineering business, Tier One, in the county and created Radiant Systems’ hardware division.
His work would not interfere with the demanding schedule during the legislative session, as his position in the company allows him to switch back and forth.
He and wife Lori have been married for 18 years and have three boys between the ages of 10 and 14 who attend county schools.
Dudgeon said his wife is "100 percent supportive" of his decision, though she was "surprised because it wasn’t one of those things we’d really talked about before.”
While he hasn't held state office, Dudgen and fellow school board member Tom Cleveland have acted as legislative liaisons between the capitol and school district.
The two have watched the legislative process and been involved in discussions regarding bills that impact the local school system.
“I think he’ll be an asset to us on the school board having that background and that knowledge,” Cleveland said.
“He’s been in the seat long enough to know how the funding mechanism works, how the legislative process works and hopefully, he can take that to the table and be a good partner with us.”
If elected, Dudgeon said he will incorporate his education experience at the state capitol, though he doesn't have "a laundry list of things I’m going to do.”
“I have the principles with some guiding philosophy for smaller government and a conservative [mindset],” he said.
With more than three months left until qualifying week ends, the field is open for others to announce their candidacy for the state office.
But Dudgeon said he’s prepared either way.
“I’ve decided if that happens, it happens," he said. "If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I’ve made my own decision. We’ll just let the chips fall where they may.”