May 14, 2014

Candidate profile: Incumbent Tarvin keeps focus on local control over education

Misty Watson

— Steve Tarvin says one of his main interests as a state legislator is making sure there is local control of education.

Tarvin, a retired businessman from Chickamauga, is seeking re-election for District 2 of the state House of Representatives. He faces Rebecca Ann Brown and Ebeth Edwards in Tuesday’s Republican primary. District 2 includes the western part of Whitfield County as well as parts of Catoosa and Walker counties.

Tarvin won the seat during a special election earlier this year to fill the unexpired term of Jay Neal, who stepped down after being appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal as executive director of the Governor’s Office of Transition, Support and Re-entry.

“Local control of education — to me that’s one of the more important things,” Tarvin said.

During the next several months Tarvin said he is going to spend his time talking to teachers and parents about Common Core, a controversial set of educational standards developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, and decide where he stands.

Tarvin believes Common Core is an “overreach” and there have been too many changes to standards in too short a period of time. He said officials are not stopping to see if the last set of standards were efficient before implementing new ones, and he wants to avoid making that mistake.

“After talking to teachers, they think it teaches problem solving,” he said. “I can be persuaded to be for it. But at this time, I’m not.”

Tarvin also hopes to re-evaluate how school systems are funded. He said too much of the funding has become the responsibility of local boards of education. He said he doesn’t have a solution because the way funding is structured now is “complicated,” and what’s best for northwest Georgia may not be best for southeast Georgia.

Tarvin wants Georgia to continue to have a business-friendly environment. He retired at the end of last year after closing Crystal Springs Print Works, which he owned for 30 years.

“I believe that people create businesses and businesses create jobs,” Tarvin said. “I hope we can become a business-friendly state. ... The main thing is for the ones who are here, we’ve got to keep them. I’ve seen Dalton deteriorate. We’ve got to make sure we do everything possible to make sure we have a business-friendly environment.”

Tarvin has only been a state legislator for a short period of time, but said he’s proud of some of the decisions made during the last legislative session.

Senate Bill 98 prevents state health insurance from covering abortions except when the mother’s life is at risk.

“I think that was a positive thing that came out of the session,” Tarvin said.

Also, a bill was passed that legalized carrying firearms in many locations, such as churches and bars, when the establishments allow it.

“That really just legalized carrying a weapon where they were carrying them illegally already,” Tarvin said. “It expanded the Second Amendment.”

A Senate resolution will put a constitutional amendment question on the November ballot asking voters if they want to see a cap on the state income tax at 6 percent.

“It can’t be raised without a change of (the) Constitution (if it passes),” Tarvin said. “The government will spend any amount of money they can bring in. This stops future Georgia legislators from raising the state income tax. I’d like to see it done away with like other states have.”

Tarvin said he ran initially and hopes to be re-elected to shape the state for future generations. He is married to Jennifer and has two children and several grandchildren. He can be reached at or at (423) 605-7328. His website is