Houston Gaines, UGA alumnus and last year’s Student Government Association president, did not waste any time after graduating this past May to run for state legislature. He announced his candidacy for Georgia's 117th district House seat last Wednesday, July 12, and promised to give the city a “new, conservative voice,” according to the press release.
“I'm not your typical candidate, but I am ready to serve and deliver for this district. We need new ideas, a fresh perspective, and renewed energy at the Gold Dome," Gaines said. "As a lifelong Athenian, I'm dedicated to this community, and the support behind our campaign speaks for itself. We are up to the challenge.”
In less than two weeks, Gaines raised a total of $65,000 which then launched his campaign. According to the press release, the candidate is being supported by 120 donors including Mayor Nancy Denson, Oconee County Commission Chairman John Daniell, Oconee County Board of Education Chairman Tom Odom, amongst others prominent members of the Athens-Clarke County community.
His campaign advisers are Tom Willis and Brian Robinson. Willis served as the former campaign adviser for Governor Nathan Deal. Robinson served as the former communications director also for the Georgia governor.
Gaines is a third-generation Athenian. He said he was inspired by community leaders such as his grandfather, Judge Joseph Gaines, calling him “a special person and an unbelievable community leader.”
“Through a lifetime dedicated to service, my grandfather conveyed to our family the importance of being in touch with our community and using our voices to enact positive change," Gaines said. "With these values in mind and with the support of friends and community leaders, I decided to run for State House.”
He said that running will give him the chance to give back to the people in the community that he grew up with and the ones that motivated him to get involved in the community.
“The people of this community are my neighbors and friends — the people I care about and the people I know. Because of folks like my grandfather, this community is an amazing place – and has made me who I am today,” Gaines said. “And it’s why I feel so passionately and what has compelled me to work for the opportunity to serve the people of House District 117. I feel this is a chance to give back to a place and the people that have been there for me.”
If elected, Gaines said he wants to improve education, commerce, and transportation in the district.
“I want to serve my neighbors by working for better educational opportunities for our children, good-paying jobs and new investment in transportation options to improve mobility,” Gaines said. “I believe in low taxes and smaller government, the value of free enterprise and personal responsibility.”
Gaines said that enhancing and promoting educational opportunities in the district will be a key component in his political platform.
According to Gaines, much of his focus will be on education, and issues stemming from the close proximity of local K-12 and college and technical education systems to UGA and other K-12 and higher education institutions.
“The district is in a unique position to support these institutions, and it should be incumbent on the representation of our district to work with and support their efforts to educate our students, create and support jobs for our neighbors and contribute back to the local economy,” Gaines said.