Dr. Scott Bohlke, who owns Bohler Family Practice in Brooklet, where he has provided patients primary medical care for almost 21 years, suggests that a physician's experiences and insight could be useful in the state Senate at this time.
He identifies education and particularly the future of Georgia Southern University, as well as healthcare, as important issues to him.
After qualifying earlier this week in Atlanta, Bohlke is one of five candidates seeking the seat previously held for almost 30 years by the late Sen. Jack Hill. Senate District 4 voters will elect a new member, to serve at least this year completing Hill's final term, in a special election coinciding with the regular statewide primaries June 9.
At this stage of his career, and with the perspective Bohlke now has as a doctor during the COVID-19 pandemic, he would have a lot to offer in the Legislature, he said.
"Obviously, taking care of folks and testing folks like I have during this time ... it's been unprecedented, and hopefully we'll never see something like this again, but having said that, it's about proper testing, proper resources, what's proper medication and how do we get this out to the people, and what do we do about the crowd situations and certainly getting the economy back going," Bohlke said.
"But when it's completely about the health care aspect, it's really about taking care of the folks...," he added.
Although people's health should be the first concern, how to get the economy going again so that many now at home can return to work will also be "a very difficult issue, something that's going to have to be worked through methodically, but in quick fashion," Bohlke said.
He added "getting students back to school" as part of this overall challenge for state officials in the near future.
Bohlke served one four-year elected term, circa 2010, on the Bulloch County Board of Education. His two stepchildren completed degrees at Georgia Southern University, and his two children are enrolled there now. He referred to all four simply as his kids.
"Not only here but from Savannah down south, Georgia Southern is just a huge part of this area, so keeping that in the forefront with the folks in Atlanta and around the state is extremely important to me," Bohlke said.
Doctor in Brooklet
He drove to Atlanta to sign the candidacy paperwork and pay the fee first thing Monday morning and was back in Brooklet by 2 p.m. to see patients in the afternoon. Sometimes featured in state and national news as a physician in a one-doctor town, Bohlke carries on the family practice established in 1955 by Dr. Charles Emory Bohler, who died in 2006.
Bohlke, now 55, is originally from Jacksonville, Florida. He attained his medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta in 1992. After finishing his residency at the Medical Center Inc. Family Medicine in Columbus in 1995, he served four years as a doctor the U.S. Air Force, going in as a captain and leaving service as a major.
"That's how I paid for medical school," he said.
He and his wife, Jennifer, who is originally from Columbus, have been married 26 years. They arrived in Brooklet in 1999, meeting Dr. Bohler.
"We just fell in love with the place, and with him and the area, and haven't looked back since," Bohlke said.
He is active in the Medical Association of Georgia and previously served as its president. He serves on the boards of the MagMutual Insurance Company and the statewide Privia Medical Group. Bohlke also served a past term as chief of medical staff at East Georgia Regional Medical Center, where he is now a member of the Board of Trustees.
Would still practice
The Statesboro Herald also asked Bohlke a question that some of his patients were already asking on social media.
"Yes, I will continue to practice medicine as I have for the past 21 years," he replied in an email. "If I was fortunate to become the senator, I have coverage from fellow physicians to assist me during the session."
The other candidates are Billy Hickman, a certified public accountant and partner in the Statesboro firm Dabbs, Hickman, Hill, and Cannon; now-former Middle Circuit Superior Court Judge Kathy Palmer from Swainsboro in Emanuel County; Neil Singleton, a Gulf War era Army veteran from Collins in Tattnall County; and Stephen Jared Sammons, a soon-to-graduate law school student from Adrian in Emanuel County.
Sammons identifies as independent, while the others are Republicans.
A profile of Hickman will appear in the Statesboro Herald's April 18 weekend edition.