Since Gov. Nathan Deal moved into the Governor’s Mansion on West Paces Ferry, he and Dist. 8 City Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean are each other’s constituents.

Gov. Nathan Deal promised the Buckhead community “to keep the grass cut at the Governor’s Mansion and not embarrass” his neighbors.

“Even though I have not been able to bring my tractor and Bush Hog, I am going to do the best I can,” he told some 150 business and civic leaders on Jan. 26 at the 22nd annual meeting of the Buckhead Coalition.

“I believe we are a historic moment in our opportunities in government to do some things that people are really demanding. That is, make government smaller,” Deal told the group of business leaders.

“People are willing to step up and fill the void that government has sometimes filled on its own. In my opinion, it is going to be a void that will be filled by not only individuals and families but also organizations and community groups coming together.”

Deal listed transportation and education—in the metro Atlanta area and throughout the state—as being very high on the list of important issues to be addressed during his term.

“We recognize that we have a challenge in terms of highway congestion…being able to ensure that people are able to get to work in a timely fashion,” the new governor said. “It is one of the issues that is a concern with businesses wanting to come to the metropolitan area.”

Deal said that although “I do not have all the answers about that, I look forward to working with the leadership here in the community as well as the members of the General Assembly.” Speaking to the cost of transportation projects, Deal urged the business and civic leaders to get behind the discussions leading up to the regional transportation SPLOST vote in 2012.

Regarding his priorities in the state budget, Deal said primary and secondary education are at the top of the list. He said his budget does not include cuts to education and “we have actually enhanced the revenue for K-12.”

“Education is indeed a challenge area,” Deal said, “not only for Atlanta but for the entire state.” People come from all over the world to attend Georgia colleges, he said, “but our K-12 scores are not what we want them to be. We must improve.”

He called the recent probation placed on the Atlanta Public Schools system “an issue that concerns all of us.” The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools recently placed APS on probation unless it addresses problems identified by the association by Sept. 30

Deal said he has offered to work with local officials to see that the high schools do not lose their accreditation, which he said would be “a great harm and impediment to the young people who depend on that accreditation to give them entree to higher education.”

The governor held his talk to the 15 minutes allotted to him by Coalition President Sam Massell and offered to return if invited for another 15 minutes.

John Schaffner

John Schaffner was founding editor of Reporter Newspapers.