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Jan Tankersley prepared for her inaugural session
Jan Tankersley, center, is all smiles as Dale Gibson, left, as poll results are announced during the Republican primary election on July 20 for the District 158 State Representative seat. Tankersley won and is preparing for her first legislative session. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/Herald File

       Bulloch County's own Jan Tankersley, freshman Georgia state representative for District 158, has already found a place near Atlanta to live, and is gearing up for her first session at the Capitol.
      "I'm renting from Butch Parrish (District 156 state representative)," she said. The condominium is close to the Capitol building.
      Tankersley spoke about her new responsibilities last week as she stopped for a bit of shopping on her way to Atlanta.
      "I've read up on the issues, and I plan to sit in on the appropriations hearings. I think that's important."
      A Bulloch County commissioner for 10 years and past president of the Association County Commissioners of Georgia, Tankersley has been involved with the state's water issues for some time, and plans to continue to stay on top of that issue.
      "I've constantly followed water issues," she said. "I'm keenly interested in them."
      She hopes to see a resolution to the water issues with Lake Lanier in north Georgia, and is excited over newly-elected Gov. Nathan Deal's interest in the matter. Deal lives in Gainesville, which is on lake Lanier.
      Tankersley reviewed the bills introduced last year, and is keeping an eye on the plans to "revamp the antiquated tax system" in Georgia. "I'm anxious to hear the recommendations over that. From what I've read, it's going to be business-friendly, and we want Georgia to be a business-friendly state."
      Tankersley anticipates getting an office this week, but chuckled over many people's assumptions she would be getting her predecessor's office. Former State Rep. Bob Lane held office for 30 years, and his tenure allowed him first choice in offices.
      Tankersley laughed as she made a comment about being happy to have a corner in the Capitol's basement.
      She said she expects the state budget would be Deal's main focus as he enters office.
      "It's a paramount concern for him, for all of us."
      There are rumors of budget cuts to include state employees and in education, but Tankersley said she doesn't know how this can be done without repercussions.
      "I don't know where more could be cut form education," she said, adding that the main concern she hears from her constituents are about education. "At this point, until the governor gives us an overview, I don't know what I can say."
      State programs and employees have suffered cuts as well, and Tankersley fears if more is cut, the state cannot continue to offer the same services as it does today.
      "I've heard the state departments have cut as far as they can cut" without eliminating services, she said.
      But there is a bright side - reports are the economy is recovering and revenues are up.
      "We're all hopeful, but it's hard to predict," she said. "It's a somewhat slow recovery, but most in the know say we're on the way. We're optimistically hopeful."
      As the week progresses, Tankersley plans to settle into her new role and learn as much as possible. A breakfast for freshman representatives, hosted by Deal, is coming up soon.
      "I look forward to what he has to say," she said.
      Tankersley said she is humbled to have been elected and that voters "put their confidence in me."
      She plans to keep in touch with constituents via newsletters, a Facebook page and other media. She also said she will rely heavily on senior members for guidance - Parrish as well as state Rep. Jon Burns and Sen. Jack Hill.
      "I know we have our work cut out for us," she said. "I'm ready to go to work for the state."

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