In the spring of 2014, grassroots candidate Lee Burton gave longtime incumbent Greg Morris a run for his money on the campaign trail. The Toombs County native-born in Metter came within striking distance, losing by just 71 votes and taking both home counties – Toombs and Montgomery – after being outspent nearly 10-1. Burton spent just over $14,000 while Morris topped $160,000.
Now, after another legislative term, Lee Burton says it’s time to give it another go for the State House district 156 that represents Toombs and Montgomery counties and a portion of both Jeff Davis and Appling counties.
Many things have changed for the limited government conservative Republican, including his marriage to Benton Lee’s Vickey Horton (Tapley). Her son, Carston, was Burton’s junior campaign manager the last go-around, but this time it’s a family affair with Mrs. Vickey and son Denton as well.
Burton’s family goes back five generations in Vidalia, and as a graduate of Vidalia High School, he’s deeply rooted in the community. After doing a few odd’s and end jobs in Vidalia, Burton enlisted in the military and took off to become a Navy SEAL in 1990. Much like his self-imposed training he did ahead of leaving for SEAL training -like swimming in ponds around Vidalia and running the track at the high school, Burton is a leader by example. If he won’t do it himself, he won’t ask someone else to do it. Burton’s list of accomplishments -many of which Americans will never know about – is lengthy, but a few of the more notable ones including becoming a sniper instructor, a warrant officer, and graduating from the Defense Language Institute. He served his country all over the world, including in Yugoslavia, Central America, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
After his time in the military, it was time to come home for good and Burton says he was frustrated with Georgia. “What happened to my southern state? We looked more like mid-western state than a southern state, becoming passive, not standing up for ourselves, and continuing to raise taxes. And I was frustrated that no one was telling the federal government to stay out of our business,” Burton said.
On Drug Testing for Welfare/TANF/food stamp recipients
Burton favors the idea and says as a state representative, he will take the first test. Burton said, “The government shouldn’t be taking people’s money and doling it out. People see a need for a hand-up, not an elevator ride to the top. But Georgians want accountability.” And how do you pay for it? Burton says you take 5% of the initial budget for it to pay for it, but then you must test every recipient or the system has to be completely random to be just.
On Religious Freedom
“What people don’t understand is that it’s discrimination to force someone to do something because it’s offensive to someone else. It’s the right of the person and business to turn away business. Just as it is the right of the consumer to stop patronizing that business.”
On casinos coming to Georgia
Burton wants the legislature to closely monitor the process to make sure it doesn’t become a perceived opportunity for a few elite. Instead, he proposes, at least in his state house district, that the deeply rooted Creek Indian community be given the opportunity to build on their land that is protected. In the same vein, Burton says he isn’t a gambler, but from a business perspective, do Georgians want the tourism and tax dollars going to other bordering states?
On the Second Amendment
‘Why am I paying for a license to exercise my right?”
On cannabis oil and medical marijuana
“I’m absolutely for expanding conditions that are covered under the legislation for the Georgia Cannabis Registry. How do you deny anybody something that may help their condition?” Doctors, Burton says, should be the determiners though, not legislators.
Throughout the course of his interview with AllOnGeorgia, Burton kept repeating, ‘If not me, who? If not now, when?’ It’s what drove him to join the military and then to run for office. A passionate patriot, Burton has been active in politics at the local, state, and national level, and offers a wealth of information on policy across the board. But why does he want to serve? He says the people of House District 156 deserve a representative who will fight for what they believe in and be responsive to their needs and calls.
So what’s the plan for the campaign this time? Same as before: a grassroots campaign that’s inclusive of the constituents and focused on the issues affecting the district and the state. “Inform people, inspire people, and involve people.”