Rhett finished the 2008 race with 11 percent of the vote, behind Woody Thompson’s 46.5 percent of the vote and then-incumbent Annette
Kesting’s 23.4 percent. Thompson eventually won the seat after a runoff, and is up for re-election as part of a six-person field in the 2012 Democratic Primary.
Rhett, an Air Force Reserve member and educator, said he has worked in the community since that time and is better known. He hopes that will help him with voters this time around.
“The people not only remember me from last time, they know me from working in the community,” Rhett said.
Rhett’s work has included moderating debates two years ago for county chairman and state Senate races. He’s also served on the boards for the Austell and Powder Springs community task forces, the Powder Springs Economic Development Committee and as south Cobb’s representative to the state’s Democratic Committee. He recently resigned from the county’s SPLOST Oversight Committee in order to run for District 4 commissioner.
Rhett said he also helped put together last year’s dedication of a bench in Powder Springs in memory of former McEachern High School running back Rajaan Bennett, the 2009 Class AAAAA Offensive Player of the Year who was gunned down in February 2010.
Rhett, a Marietta resident, said he would like to see Thompson spend more time paying attention to areas outside Mableton, where Thompson lives.
“I think his heart is sincere about Mableton, but I want to have a united south Cobb,” Rhett said. “You hear about Mableton, you hear some about Six Flags, but you don’t hear about Powder Springs. I want to develop a united south Cobb. All of us working together for all of south Cobb.”
In his first filing with the state Campaign Finance Commission last week, Rhett reported $6,717 in contributions, with $5,435 coming in loans. Rhett said he has “grass roots” support.
“I feel good about that, because I am only beholden to the people and not any large entities,” he said.
Still, Rhett said he’s picked up endorsements from Powder Springs Mayor Pat Vaughn and City Councilwoman Rosalyn Neal.
In order to help spur south Cobb development, Rhett said the county needs to look at creating tax allocation districts, in which a government entity issues bonds for private redevelopment on a piece of property. The property’s current value is frozen for tax purposes, and that same level of tax revenue is collected. As the property is developed and its value increases, it increased tax revenue is used to pay off the development bonds.
Eventually, Rhett would like to see community improvement districts, similar to Cumberland and Town Center, in south Cobb. In CIDs, businesses in an area tax themselves, using the revenue for improvements to transportation and other areas. He hopes the new developments would lower taxes for residents
“That will eventually help share the tax load with residential homeowners,” he said.
Rhett also said he agrees with plans to redevelop Six Flags Drive using land banking, in which the county and redevelopment authority acquiring existing underused apartment complexes to be used for development at a later time.
“As long as we’re moving forward to eventually building a tax allocation district and opportunity zone tax credits to developers,” he said. “We don’t want them sitting there wasting. We want to move forward with a plan to redevelop the area.”
Rhett has a doctorate in education from the University of Georgia, as well as degrees from the University of Central Oklahoma, Georgia State University and the State University of New York at Albany.
If elected, Rhett promises to be a full-time commissioner.
“I’m at the point now, where if I’m elected, I can retire and give my full attention to serving as commissioner,” he said.
Since no Republican qualified in the southwest Cobb race, the winner of the July 31 Democratic Primary is expected to be commissioner.