A former state lawmaker from Dawson County aims to return to the Georgia General Assembly.
Clint Smith has announced he will seek the 9th District seat in the state House of Representatives.
The new district includes all of Lumpkin County, most of Dawson County and a portion of Hall County.
The seat is currently held by Rep. Amos Amerson, who has not announced his retirement but has indicated he doesn't plan to seek another term.
"Rep. Amerson has been representing us well for the last decade, so I didn't really feel there was an opportunity to [run] until now," Smith said.
Smith is the first candidate to declare for the election. Qualifying for the July 31 General Primary is set for May 23-25.
Smith, 51, served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003, when the legislative maps were redrawn and his district dismantled.
"Now, we've got new maps, we've got new opportunities, new challenges, and I've never been somebody to sit on the sidelines, so this is the time to run again," he said.
"After much prayer and consultation with family, GOP colleagues, current legislators and my friends in the Tea Party, I am ready to go."
A longtime Republican activist, Smith said he takes pride in his conservative voting record on statewide issues.
During his time under the Gold Dome, Smith said he never voted for a tax increase, while fighting for fiscal responsibility and reform in the budget process.
"I was very much a proponent of a lean state budget, and I was always fighting against wasteful pork barrel line items and other funding that was put in the budget that I thought was wasteful," he said.
He also co-sponsored a bill that overhauled the state's welfare system to hold recipients more accountable for their benefits.
Locally, Smith carried legislation that created a five-person commission in Dawson County.
"I believe that everybody felt that the time was at hand, that the county had grown enough, that the challenges as far as balancing the quality of life that we all enjoy with the growth and the infrastructure, that it was time to change our form of local government," he said.
Smith said he will continue to fight wasteful spending and push for a transparent, open government without pressure from lobbyists and other outside interests.
"If elected, my top priorities will be to support legislation that increases jobs in Georgia and brings about a stronger, more robust economy," he said.
Smith recently completed nearly two years of full-time service with the Georgia Air National Guard and continues to serve part time.
He chaired the Dawson County Republican Party from 2008-11.