by Paul Gable
Carter Kessler is bringing a refreshing approach to Georgia's state politics; an approach whose goal is to break through political stereotypes to forge a true coalition for success.
A conservative Republican candidate running for office in a Democratic district should be a recipe for a huge loss. However, in the case of Carter Kessler, a candidate for House District 118 in Athens, don’t bet on it.
“I’m building a coalition among the voters, so we can fight together for this district, for Athens and for improvements in state government,” said Kessler. “I’m not happy with some of the things that go on in the state legislature. We have to keep the majority of politicians up there on their toes.”
Campaigning in a district that has not fielded a Republican candidate in nearly two decades, Kessler is going door to door meeting voters.
“I love people,” Kessler said. “We really all want the same things – a chance to earn a living and make a better life for ourselves and our families. A lot of people told me to move to a different district where conservative Republicans are more popular, but I’m not going to do that. I like where I live, I like my neighbors, and I want to represent them.”
A native of Louisville, Ky., Kessler moved to Athens in 1999 to attend the University of Georgia. He loves the city and has chosen to make a career in entrepreneurship in it. In 2005, he and a friend started a business called Oconee Custom Signs. After selling that company, he started Listingtank.com in 2007.
Kessler’s business career has helped him understand the importance of fiscal responsibility and the need for smaller government. He wants to utilize his business experience in the State House to create an environment that allows small business to thrive and bring new jobs to the Athens area.
Kessler’s message to voters includes individual liberty, government responsibility, ethics reform, and sound money management.
“I believe too much ‘feel good’ legislation has been passed transferring wealth and responsibility to big government,” he said. “This has undermined our ability to save and help ourselves. People need to look to one another more and to big government much less.”
Another recent issue for state politics has been ethics reform, "Like the majority of Georgians; I support sweeping ethics reform, and I support open records, and open meeting requirements, as well as other measures that truly address corruption."
“Only when the people are convinced the government is being completely open and honest with them will they have faith that government is working in their best interests,” Kessler added.
Kessler believes the best government decisions are made at the lowest level, because they are made closest to the people, they affect.
“We should give more responsibility to city councils, county commissions and school boards,” Kessler said. “Those are the elected bodies that are closest to the people and closest to the issues that need to be addressed.”
Kessler has proven he is not afraid to challenge traditional political thinking. He has also proven that like the rest of us, he is human and can make mistakes.
He has two DUI convictions on his record. His opponent in the primary tried to paint Kessler as a habitual drunk. The strategy failed miserably because it is untrue.
His first brush with the law came when he slid off an unfamiliar road, at night. He immediately called the police to report the accident and admitted having a few beers before driving.
“I don’t believe I was impaired to drive,” Kessler said. “The accident happened at night on a sharp curve on an unfamiliar road when I was probably going 30 mph and should have been going 15 if I knew the road.”
Kessler cooperated fully with the police and was charged with DUI, a charge he accepted rather than trying to fight.
The second charge appears to be a stretch of justice. Kessler was not operating a motor vehicle. He was pushing his moped, with the engine turned off, to move it to a safer location on the street where he lives during a football weekend at UGA.
“A bicycle cop came up to me and engaged me in conversation,” Kessler said. “I told him what I was doing, but the law technically calls pushing a vehicle operating it. I’m not trying to run from my record. It is what it is, but I think the circumstances are a little different than what they appear in black and white.”
If voters are looking for a reason not to support Kessler, the DUI’s may be it. However, if they are looking for a first-time politician with a refreshing new approach, Kessler may be their choice.
“I see this campaign as taking it to the political insiders because we deserve better,” Kessler said. “Liberty appeals to all people; freedom is popular. We will be successful together working toward a common goal.”