By BOB CAREY
Professor Rick Austin has been teaching biology at Piedmont College, and he is good at it.
He is also good at keeping his eye on local politics. His goal is to ensure that common sense is not replaced by so-called “political correctness.”
His strong interest in civic affairs began when he was elected to the Habersham County Planning Commission. From there he graduated to the Habersham County Council.
His constituents recognized him as a man who had their best interests at heart; so, they sent him on to the Georgia State House, where he was elected to two terms. He did something that no first-term representative had done as far back as anybody could remember: he introduced a bill. Not only that, but he co-sponsored other bills that would allow Georgia government to better do its job, particularly in the field of education.
When an opening appeared in the Georgia Senate, Austin went for it. That’s when the “good ol’ boys” went into action. They sure didn’t want any “hot shot activist messin’ with the deal they got.” Rick was soundly defeated. He went home to “lick his wounds.”
He might have stayed there too, except that he was born, raised and still lived in the city of Demorest. The difference was that now he had a family of his own to care for.
So, when major irregularities came to light in the financial affairs of the city of Demorest, Austin’s juices started flowing again. He ran for mayor and won.
He was sworn in on Jan. 7, and held his first city council meeting shortly thereafter—and what a meeting it was.
True to form Mayor Austin introduced the Council to modern, paperless, “access control” which would also simultaneously keep payroll records.
Although it was not discussed, such an electronic system is bound to save the city considerable expense. The idea will be “fleshed out” at the next regular meeting on Feb. 4.