A career businessman, Mark Hajduk doesn’t mind if you call him a “disrupter.”
In fact, he prefers it.
The 45-year-old, who grew up in Marietta and now resides in north Forsyth, announced on social media Wednesday night that he intends to run against District 9 State Representative and incumbent Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) in the upcoming primary election.
“I am a political newcomer, that’s obvious,” Hajduk said. “I don’t think that’s a bad thing. There’s a term in business that is actually celebrated, it’s called a ‘disrupter.’ They give awards for it. It can be a person or a business that comes in with fresh ideas and a new perspective to challenge the status quo.”
A disrupter pushes for positive change, Hajduk said.
The first generation of his family to be born in the United States, Hajduk currently works as chief operating officer at Voxpopuli Inc. in Norcross, which is a marketing, graphic design and print production company.
He is a 1994 graduate of the University of Georgia, and was hired by the U.S. Department of Justice after interning with the House Banking Committee upon graduation. He formerly worked with Invesco Capital Management and SunTrust Equitable Securities.
Hajduk and his wife Michelle, a preschool teacher at Cumming Baptist Church, have two kids, Benjamin, 10, and Madelyn, 5.
One of the key issues Hajduk is focusing his Republican platform on is bringing quality growth to the district, which includes all of Lumpkin County, most of Dawson County and a northwestern portion of Forsyth County.
“I am concerned that our explosive growth we’ve been experiencing can put what people love about this area in jeopardy if not managed properly,” Hajduk said. “I think we need to make sure that it’s quality growth...incentivize quality businesses to come to the area that bring great jobs, that invest in the area. We don’t want all the growth just to be strip malls and retail and fast food.”
He said that incentivizing more technologically advanced and higher quality companies to come to the area would bring better jobs and attract more quality professionals.
Another of his focuses, improving quality of life for rural communities, would directly benefit from having more high-tech businesses and jobs.
“Everything from internet to medical, I think we need to give our citizens the best services possible,” Hajduk said.
That would include incentivizing the build out of high-speed internet, a hot-button issue at the Capitol already, and pursuing state funding for micro-hospitals, to combat the closings and general lack of rural hospitals.
“If we need to incentivize the professionals to be here, then that could be done too. For example, can it be looked into that a doctor can be incentivized to come practice here by helping that doctor restructure medical school debt in low or zero interest loans,” he said.
Hajduk also said that as growth occurs, emphasis should be placed on making sure infrastructure supports the growth. For example, though Ga. 400 has been widened in Forsyth and Fulton, side roads have become more heavily trafficked, making the drive to Ga. 400 worse than the commute on the highway itself. Preventing issues like that as growth continues will be paramount, he said.
Another of his key issues, environmental protection, plays into that as well. Hajduk said that he is probably in disagreement with some Republicans in that he believes that as the region experiences explosive growth, maintaining good stewardship of the environment should be a priority.
“We are fortunate to live in an area that has a picturesque beauty to it...it’s almost like out of a novel,” he said. “We need to make sure there is enough land put aside for conservation, that we have enough funding for the state’s Environmental Protection Department...if the number of construction permits booms, but you have the same number of people staffed at the EPD, how are they going to handle the load? They’re not going to.”
The state personal income tax is another issue on his agenda, Hajduk said, and one he would like to eventually see eliminated, much like the state of Florida.
“I’m concerned that under the new federal tax law, because of the way that deductions have changed, some Georgians will actually see an increase in their personal state income tax,” he said. “It’s projected that next fiscal year; there will possibly be close to $1 billion more paid by Georgians on their state personal income tax.
“I think that’s an issue that needs to be addressed, because people are suffering at that point.”
Hajduk said he isn’t daunted by Tanner’s track record in elections. Tanner ran unopposed in 2016 and 2014, beating out opponent Clint Smith in the 2012 primary for his first term in office.
Along with not being from the area and having lived in multiple places with various career experiences, Hajduk said there is one thing that makes him especially different from his opponent.
“I don’t have any business interests in this district, and I’m proud of that,” he said. “What that means to me is, if elected, I can go and vote my conscience on every issue, because I literally have no business ties in this district. I want to serve every constituency, I want to listen to every voice and I want to do what is best for the future because I'm staying here for the long haul.”