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Thursday April 15th, 2021 10:45PM

Incumbent, 2 challengers to face off in Republican primary for House District 103 seat

By Alyson Shields Reporter
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Three Republican candidates hope they'll be the one to face off against Democrat Clifton Marshall in November in the battle for the House District 103 seat, but first, they'll have to get past each other in the June 9 primary race. Our candidates for State Representative include: the young, conservative incumbent eight years in to the post, who also claims the titles of husband, father and business owner, Timothy Barr; the political newcomer who has found ways to serve people everywhere from Oakwood and Habersham County to Kuwait and beyond, Derrick McCollum; and the fresh faced college graduate who is ready to take the political norm by storm, Donald Schmidt.
 
If needed, a runoff is planned for August 11.
 
WHERE IS THE DISTRICT?
The district is encompasses portions of southern Hall and northern Gwinnett Counties. It covers a portion of South Hall County, including part of incorporated Flowery Branch and portions of the Friendship Community. The very bottom left portion of the district is in Gwinnett County, and is separated by Interstate 85 and labeled as Lawrenceville. A map of the district is available here. Unsure voters can log in to the Secretary of State's My Voter Page to double check.
 
WHO IS RUNNING?
 
THE INCUMBENT: Timothy Barr (2012 to present)
Website
Phone: 770-364-5933
Social
Incumbent Info from the Georgia General Assembly
 
Political Experience
Barr became interested in government as a teen, volunteering at the State Capitol as a senior in high school. After graduation, he worked for conservative members of Congress including Congressman Daniel Webster and U.S. Senator Tom Coburn. He returned to Georgia and began his construction company in 2005. In 2013, Barr was sworn in as State Representative to District 103, replacing David Casas. He serves on several committees, including Appropriations, and is the chairman of the Code Revision committee.
 
Issues
Barr has numerous issues listed on his website as top concerns, including defending the Constitution and protecting the Second Amendment, keeping business number one in Georgia, cutting taxes, Both a parent and a former teacher, Barr said on his website that quality education across the board - public, private or home-based - is one of his key issues, and that is against the Common Core Solution. He is faith-forward and describes himself as a "Pro-Life advocate" who supports HB 481, also known as the Heartbeat Bill; also, supports efforts to end human  trafficking.
 
Morning Talk with Martha Zoller
Barr's opponents in the race have criticized the incumbent's track record on voting, saying he has missed multiple votes.
 
"Over a biennium - the legislative sessions - we take about 800 to 900 votes, just for scope of things," said Barr on the May 15 edition of Morning Talk. Despite that high count, Barr didn't deny that he'd missed out on a few. "It's less than 300, but over eight years I've missed about 36 votes. But, to put that in perspective, we're taking 800 to 900. Many, many are procedural votes... procedural being 'Are you in the chamber' and we also have sort of fun votes, like somebody puts forth a resolution to commend the Garden Club of Albany."
 
Barr said sometimes other opportunities change his daily dynamic during the session. For example, Barr said when constituents visit, he feels it's usually more important to be a host to them.
 
"I try to show folks around the Capitol. Definitely not a habit to miss any, actual votes that matter to my district," Barr explained to Zoller. In addition to visitors from 103, Barr said sometimes, he needed to put his family at a higher priority. "And also, we don't have sick days. So I will say there's been multiple times Mom (his wife, Melinda) has gotten sick and the family needs Daddy to stay at home for a day, so I'll do that."
 
Barr said while he takes responsibility for the missing votes, he reiterated there weren't as many holes in his record as it seemed. "I'm not in any way saying it isn't serious or part of the job, but I'm just saying in perspective, we're talking probably 35 votes a year... that's an easy kind of shot to take at somebody who has been there for a few years, but that's the reality."
 
On the COVID-19 pandemic impacting the political sphere, Barr admitted it had been tough for his campaign.
 
"We are technically in suspension of our session this year, so we have about 10 days left, so therefore, I'm unable to raise any money being an incumbent and technically still in session," Barr said. He said they had taken to conference calls to talk about where budget cuts needed to be made, in hopes of still getting some work done.  "The leadership of Kemp already kind of had us in that mode, trying to cut 4% to 6% over this last year's budget, and now this year in the upcoming, looks like we're going to be around the 15%. That is definitely a large task."
 
Barr's full interview with Martha Zoller can be found here.
 
Background
Born and raised in Northeast Georgia on a farm, and currently lives in Gwinnett County. He began his own construction business in 2005. Barr and wife, Melinda, have four children, ranging in age from nine to one years old: Liberty, Haven, Maverick and Dixie. The Barrs have been married for 13 years. Barr is active in his church community, serving currently on the deacon board, as well as serving on several other nonprofit boards. The Barr family enjoys the outdoors, including being on the water.
 
 
NEWCOMER 1: DERRICK McCOLLUM
Phone: 678-654-1246
 
Political Experience
From McCollum's website and Facebook Page, it appears he is a true political newcomer. However, McCollum does have some experience his opponents lack: military service. He served as a Marine in Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm, including spending some time on the front lines.
 
Issues
It's likely no surprise that business-owner McCollum is concerned about jobs and the economy, "standing behind Governor Kemp," per his website, as well as federal spending. Similarly, he is interested in the growth of career opportunities and technical training. He is also passionate about serving the community, as well as protecting American beliefs including life, the Second Amendment and religious liberty. He also has an interest in immigration reform and supports law enforcement.
 
Morning Talk with Martha Zoller
McCollum was featured on Morning Talk with Martha Zoller on May 14.
 
"I feel like our leadership now has been very ineffective," McCollum told Zoller when she asked why he wanted to be in office. "[Timothy Barr has] been in for eight years, he's missed over 300 votes, last year alone he missed or skipped more votes than 155 other representatives."

"Also, I'm a small business owner. My whole life I've been serving the public, my community and my state, and I just want to continue to serve. I don't want it to be a career, I think term limits are really good. I wanna go down there, serve eight years and then move on to something else."

When asked how the COVID-19 pandemic changed his campaign, McCollum told Zoller that he feels the pandemic will change the whole U.S. permanently, and that they'll need to be more cautious with their funding, praising Governor Kemp for trying to make cuts to the budget before the pandemic started. He encouraged government to "get out of the way" and allow local industry to recover, including slashing regulations.

"The government can't pay us forever," he said, and praised Kemp's reopening of the state.
 
 
Background:
McCollum enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating high school in 1991, serving in Desert Storm, and sticking it out for seven years before going into the reserves. He became a firefighter and EMT after 9/11, beginning his 17 year career in Hall County and currently working in Habersham County. Between those career moves, McCollum became an entrepreneur and also operates two businesses, including a car wash in Oakwood. He is a Christian. He is married and has three children, as well as grandchildren, and two dogs, one of which serves as a therapy dog.
 
NEWCOMER 2: DONALD SCHMIDT
Phone: 678-296-6167
 
Political Experience
Don't be fooled by his youth, 22-year-old Schmidt wasted no time getting in the political game, working on the campaigns of Governor Brian Kemp and former Governor Nathan Deal. He also tackled a handful of other campaigns in the congressional and local ranks.
 
Issues
One thing many politicians, parents and students can agree on, Schmidt picks up education as one of his top issues, including the dismantling of Common Core practices. He also wants to see budget transparency laws for University System of Georgia institutions and introduce financial planning into college prep curriculum. He also takes an interest in free market health care and economic issues, including the Right to Earn legislation and blocking tax increases. Other issues on interest include the right to life, securing the border, the Second Amendment, protecting Free Speech, and others. He said on his website his motto is "People Over Party."
 
Morning Talk with Martha Zoller
Schmidt was featured on Morning Talk with Martha Zoller on May 15.
 
Zoller worked for Brian Kemp prior to taking over Morning Talk, and confirmed before the interview began that she had previously met Schmidt.
 
He told her others encouraged him to look into a political career of his own.
 
"I had gotten to know a lot of the representatives during my time, and I got to spend a lot of time in the legislative session and learn how that process works and I pretty quickly learned there were a lot of flaws in how the established politicians were treating our legislative process," Schmidt told Zoller about why he chose to run. "I looked into this, came back and began working. I had a lot of people from the community reach out and say, 'Hey, you should really run against this guy that we have right now [Timothy Barr]... he's voted to raise taxes on us a few times and I don't think he's the right person for the job.'" After talking with others about the issues for their district, Schmidt said he felt confident in moving forward.
 
As COVID-19 took the world by storm, Schmidt said campaigning almost stopped completely. He said he couldn't use the traditional methods to reach people and had to get creative with social media.
 
"It also made me understand a lot about how governing has to adapt to crises in different situations, like the coronavirus," Schmidt said.
 
Schmidt went on to say he wanted to see Georgia lawmakers reduce spending by increasing efficiency and reducing overhead, including unused property that the state is holding on to, instead of slashing things from the budget that would be helpful to Georgia residents, like teacher's pay and scholarships.
 
 
Background
Schmidt grew up in Dacula, moving to Georgia from his birth city of New Brunswick, New Jersey as a child. He attended public schools in the Peach State and then went on to Georgia College and State University, graduating early with a degree in Political Science in 2019, according to his LinkedIn profile. He works for technology company DAS Professional Services. Schmidt is a Catholic and attends Prince of Peace Church. He is not currently married and does not have children; however, he credits his parents, sister and girlfriend for helping him towards his goals in politics on his Facebook page.
 
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MISSING VOTES?
So, has incumbent Barr really missed 300 votes? Or has he missed just a handful - 35 - like he claims? Every State Representative's voting track record can be located, by session, by vote, on the Georgia General Assembly website. A link to the current session's voting items can be found here. You may also check the voting records from other sessions there.
 
Per our calculation at AccessWDUN from the information posted to the Georgia General Assembly website, out of the 642 votes taken this session, Barr has missed or been excused from a total of 48 votes. An excused vote means the lawmaker was absent or otherwise not present and able to vote. This tally does not include the attendance vote, which marks the representative as "here" at the Capitol for that day, but the total number of things voted on does include the attendance vote.
 
Barr's last missed voted - denoted on the website as "Not Voting" - was item #429, to recede House Bill 99, on April 2, 2019. Barr's most recent excused vote was item #556 on March 10, 2020, the passage of House Bill 1114.
 
Again, search the Georgia General Assembly website for the voting track record of Barr or any other state representative, from this session or from prior sessions dating as far back as 2005.
 
AND WHAT ABOUT THE DEMOCRAT?
With no Democratic challengers, Clifton Marshall will appear next on the November ballot. Get to know him on his campaign website
  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News, Politics
  • Associated Tags: Election, south hall county, Timothy Barr, State House, House District 103, Derrick McCollum, Donald Schmidt, Clifton Marshall, North Gwinnett County, June 9th Primary
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Incumbent, 2 challengers to face off in Republican primary for House District 103 seat
Three candidates are vying to claim the title as the Republican candidate in the race to claim the State Representative title for House District 103, including the incumbent, Timothy Barr, former Marine Derrick McCollum, and political science grad Donald Schmidt.
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