ATLANTA - Former DeKalb County CEO and state lawmaker Vernon Jones has now set his sights on the governor's office.
In April, Jones announced he would challenge Republican incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp in 2022.
"I've demonstrated strong leadership. I've had to run a government. The buck has had to stop with me," Jones said.
He said his campaign will focus on election integrity, statewide economic development, banning "critical race theory" in schools, barring transgender athletes from sports and restoring "law and order."
"We cannot be soft on criminals and tough on crime," said Jones. "This is a challenge for us right now. There's been a lack in leadership. We are literally harder on police officers--we are handcuffing them--so, they can't do their jobs."
Jones said his mix of executive and legislative experience makes him the right person for the job.
"Being the chief executive of DeKalb County, you're running a law enforcement agency. You're running so many other agencies--the courts, you're appointing judges, all those different agencies, infrastructure, water and sewer, transportation," Jones explained. "I have all that experience come day one, but at the same time, I came from that legislative body. I learned from the old school legislators. I know how to relate to that body. I've been one of them. I know how to get things done and move an agenda forward."
Jones only recently switched to the Republican Party, but he said he has always held conservative values. In 2017, he voted in favor of the state's "campus carry" law, which allowed for licensed gun owners to have concealed weapons on Georgia's college campuses.
"Sonny Perdue--I served in the legislature with him--he was a Democrat became a Republican and governor. Nathan Deal was a Democrat, became a Republican, became governor and look, Donald Trump was a Democrat and he became Republican and did more for this country than a lot of presidents have both Democrats and Republicans in the past 60 years," said Jones.
The gubernatorial hopeful will be on Jekyll Island this weekend working to garner support for his campaign at the GOP State Convention.
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