December 28, 2013

Candidate profiles: House District 2: Woodruff

Lawyer candidate says he’s fiscal conservative

Misty Watson
mistywatson@daltoncitizen.com

— Doug Woodruff’s top priority if he’s elected to the state House of Representatives is balancing a conservative budget.

“I’m a fiscal conservative,” he said. “We have to cut the bloat and continue to create an economic environment that’s attractive to businesses.”

Woodruff faces Neal Florence and Steve Tarvin in a special election on Jan. 7 to fill the unexpired term of Jay Neal for House District 2. The district includes Tunnel Hill, Trichum and Westside in Whitfield County and parts of Catoosa and Walker counties. Neal stepped down after being named executive director of the Governor’s Office of Transition, Support and Re-entry. The term expires at the end of 2014.

Woodruff is the chief assistant public defender for the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit, which includes Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade and Walker counties. If he is elected, he will have to resign from his position since he’s a state employee.

“People make the assumption if you’re a lawyer they don’t need to send you to Atlanta,” Woodruff said. “We can make sure the legislation is artfully drafted. If it is not well-written, it doesn’t matter what the purpose is, it will be difficult to achieve the desired end result. You know it’s not written well when a lawyer starts attacking it. Having a lawyer looking out for you is an advantage.”

Woodruff said the budget needs to be reviewed carefully before being approved during the 2014 legislative session.

“I’m not a big fan of big government,” he said.

He hopes if the budget is done well, some of the state cuts in recent years can be restored, especially in the area of education. Before becoming a lawyer, Woodruff was a music teacher. He has taught at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga State Community College and Collegedale (Tenn.) Academy.

Woodruff is also interested in looking at how the state of Georgia can better protect residents’ Internet privacy. Some of that has to be handled at the federal level, “but it’s up to the states to be at the front line of protecting their citizens from private entities,” he said.

Business websites that are not encrypted download cookies, which can contain personal information that can be stolen by hackers.

“You can’t control that at the state level, but we need to look at what we can do if they do business in our state,” Woodruff said.

Woodruff was raised in Center Grove near Rock Spring and studied music in Europe. While teaching music in the Chattanooga area, he went into public service with what was then the Fort Oglethorpe Volunteer Fire Department. He later became a deputy for the Walker County Sheriff’s Office before going to law school at the University of Georgia. He was admitted to the Georgia bar in June 1996 and has worked as a private attorney and as an assistant district attorney, and has been with the public defender’s office since its creation in 2005.

He is married to Terri, a pediatric nurse practitioner and clinical manager of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Hamilton Medical Center.