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Greg Kirk faces challenge to State Senate District 13 seat

By MICHAEL MURRAY
michael.murray@americustimesrecorder.com

AMERICUS — There are two candidates running for the position of Georgia State Senator (District 13), to be voted on in the May 24 election primary with the final decision to be made in the November 8 election. Incumbent Greg Kirk, a Republican faces a challenge this year from Rue’Nette Melton, a Democrat.
Each candidate was asked to answer a series of questions via email and send their responses to the Times-Recorder for publication.
In response to the Times-Recorder’s inquiry, Rue’Nette Melton submitted a document containing the following information:
“Ms. Rue Nett Melton, of Tifton, GA is the CEO and founder of Dee & Doc Melton, Sr. Cultural Visions, Inc. named to honor her father, the late Honorable Mr. Daughtry Benjamin “Doc” Melton, Sr., (the first black American to run for public office in Tifton in 1966) and the late Mrs. Ella Dora (Dee) Alexander Melton. She attended Morris Brown College, Atlanta, GA and received a B.A. Degree in Speech and Drama and certification in Early Childhood Education from Albany State University. Her love and dedication with over 23 years teaching experience and family background led her to establish the first black museum in Tifton to archive the many unheralded accomplishments of Tifton area black Americans. The museum functions as a neighborhood resource center for various outreach programs implemented by Dee & Doc, Inc. The Highways and Byways Mission of Dee & Doc actively seeks out our disabled Veterans and other homeless populations throughout the year.
“Rue’Nett strives to be a positive role model to humanity. Established programs include ‘The Hedges and Highways Out Reach Ministries’ to assist homeless men, women, and children in area communities. This program utilizes youth volunteers who assist with outreach and intake and learn valuable life lessons designed to highlight and reinforce positive youth behavior, promote educational excellence, prevent juvenile crime, reduce and eliminate suspensions, expulsions and disciplinary referrals.
“Ms. Melton began the area’s first annual Juneteenth Festival at Fulwood Park in 2013. The Festival has become a favorite destination for participants to enjoy Arts and Crafts, diverse cultural exhibits and talents, and recognition of world wide community leaders and trendsetters.
“Ms. Melton is a candidate for Georgia State Senate District 13 as a Democrat because many of the constituents feel their needs are not being addressed by the current Senator. As a devout Christian, Ms. Melton understands the religious concerns of many fellow citizens. However, there are greater issues as stated by her constituents. Such as unemployment, health care, education, the environment and crime increase. She believes these issues deserve just as much time and focus and plans to devote her voice to progress.
“Ms. Melton is a motivational speaker.”
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Greg Kirk, a Republican Sumter County resident, currently holds the office of State Senate District 13. In response to the inquiry about what changes he would like to see in the office of State Senate District 13, Kirk responded, “I want to continue the work I started when I won the seat in 2014.”
Kirk, who holds a masters degree in counseling psychology from Troy State University, had never previously run for office before the 2014 election, when he was elected to the Georgia Senate.
Asked about his qualifications for the office of Georgia Senate District 13, Kirk responded, “I am a successful business man having started several businesses since 1993 and I have put many Georgians to work. I am also a Licensed Professional Counselor and my background in healthcare has been a vital part of my serving on the Health and Human Services Committee in the Senate. My career has been spent working with people with disabilities and their families. What I love about the disability world is that is cuts across all socioeconomic backgrounds. Having owned a company that served over 3,200 individuals with disabilities I have worked with the Rich, Poor, Black, White, Hispanic, etc. The goal of families that have loved ones with disabilities is getting support and my company was very successful at doing that.”
Asked what he would like for local voters to know about him, Kirk stated, “I am a very passionate person and I am a man of my convictions. I have stood for Religious Freedoms, Gun Rights, and many other important issues to our district. In my first term I sponsored or co-sponsored 145 pieces of  legislation. My first year I passed a law that allows any citizen that sees a child or an elderly person left in a hot car to break and enter that vehicle and rescue the person without fear of being charged with a crime. This was a piece of common sense legislation and common sense is something that has been lacking in a lot of the laws that have been passed in recent years.”