Local News

May 17, 2014

Candidate profile: Starling says county must invest in future

— Two years ago, Nicky Starling ran for the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners as a Democrat. This year he seeks the Republican nomination for the District 1 seat on the board.

Asked why he switched parties, Starling says it was “principles.”

“I’m a minister,” he said. “I’m pro-life. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I’m very conservative. I believe that if you make your money honestly nobody should force you to share it. I believe in less government. I believe in helping people up, but I don’t believe in handouts. I believe if you are able to work you should.”

Starling, 59, has served as pastor of Greater St. James Overcoming Church of God since 1986. He faces Renee Davis, Cody Holloway and Barry Robbins in Tuesday’s primary. Incumbent Gordon Morehouse, a Republican, declined to run for re-election. District 1 is basically the southeast part of the county. No Democrats qualified.

Starling says he approves of the board’s decision to create the 2,380-acre Carbondale Business Park to try to attract new firms.

“That’s an investment in our future,” he said. “Our economy needs to be diverse. We need to seek out new companies. We can’t wait for them to come to us.”

Starling says he doesn’t know all of the details of the special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) that commissioners have proposed putting on the ballot in March of next year. But he said the SPLOST is generally the best way to pay for items the county needs.

“I think a SPLOST is the best tax. Everybody pays it. It takes the burden off property owners,” he said.

Starling says he’s a fiscal conservative who will keep a close eye on the county budget.

Asked what are some of the key services the county provides, Starling says public safety such as the fire department and the sheriff’s office are at the top of the list.

“They do a good job,” said Starling, a former Dalton police officer. “Those deputies are out there every day doing a rough job, and I don’t think they are paid enough.”

Starling says the Dalton-Whitfield County Library is also an important service.

“Education is important, and the more we can do to support the library, the better,” he said.

Starling also says the Dalton-Whitfield Senior Center is a vital service.

“We need to do what we can to support our senior citizens. They built this community, and we are all going to grow old one day,” he said.

Starling says he has studied business management at Dalton State College and has a bachelor’s degree, a master’s and a doctorate from Covington Theological Seminary in Rossville. He and his wife Rhenda have been married 38 years and have three daughters and a foster son.

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