GAINESVILLE - Hall County Commissioner Ashley Bell declared Thursday morning his switch to the Repubican Party is not politically motivated.
"My ambition, whatever it is, is still the same," he said during an appearance on the Al Gainey Show on WDUN AM 550 and FM 102.9 WDUN. "
I want to do the best job that I can do for the town that I grew up in."
And, Bell denied there is an appointment awaiting him in the administration of incoming Republican governor Nathan Deal, telling Gainey "It's just a rumor."
Bell, appearing on the program less than two hours after his party switch was formally announced by Gov.-elect Nathan Deal, said the Democratic Party simply no longer reflects his long-held conservative values.
He also defended his decision to switch parties despite being elected as a Democrat two years ago. Bell says he's giving the Democratic Party plenty of time to prepare for 2012 when his current term ends:
"...two years for the Democratic Party to decide...if they feel they want want someone to run against me," he said, "that's fine. I want to give them ample time."
The announcement of his party switch came at the annual Eggs 'n' Issues breakfast sponsored by the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce.
In introducing Bell to the crowd, Gov.-elect Deal said Bell's decision "is an indication of what is happening in our state," a reference to the seven state legislators who have bolted to the Republican Party since being re-elected as Democrats Nov. 2.
Bell had said Wednesday "After consulting with family, my conscience leads me to determine that the Democratic Party is no longer aligned with my core beliefs. In short, my personal convictions and conservative beliefs fit comfortably within the Republican Party. That's why I have made my decision to officially become a Republican."
While in the Democratic Party, Bell achieved national recognition as a leader.
He was elected the President of the College Democrats of Georgia as well as the College Democrats of America. As the national president of College Democrats, Ashley was a member of the Executive Committee of the Democratic National Committee and later served as chairman of the Hall County democratic party.
In 2000 Bell was the youngest delegate ever elected to a Democratic National Convention (elected at 18, attending at 19), and in 2004 Bell was a primetime speaker at the Democratic National Convention.
But Bell says that as he reflected on his core beliefs of less government intrusion and smaller government, he began to realize that he was a Republican.
"As a Hall County Commissioner, I have strongly supported privatization of services to make them less expensive and more efficient. I have voted against spending increases, supported a resolution to declare English our official language, and supported strengthening ethics standards for government," Bell said. "Too many Democrats seem to oppose these basic conservative ideas."
Bell is a native of Hall County. He attended law school at the University of Georgia and Louisiana State University, and he practices law throughout the state as a partner with Bell & Washington LLP.
His wife, Lauren, who is also politically active in the Democratic Party, is also switching her allegiance.