Neil Singleton, an Army veteran and former law enforcement officer, describes his campaign for the Georgia Senate in District 4 as based in limited-government, constitutional principles.
The state's treatment of foster parents and what he sees as a need to reform the criminal justice system rank among his concerns.
His home in Tattnall County is about five miles from Collins and nine miles from Reidsville, which was the hometown of the late Sen. Jack Hill. After having served in the state Senate almost 30 years, first as a Democrat but since 2002 as a Republican, Hill died suddenly April 6. The special election to fill his term through this year is set for June 9, with an Aug. 11 runoff possible.
Singleton, also a Republican, is one of five candidates now seeking the seat. In fact, he had declared his candidacy as a potential challenger to Hill last September but then did not sign up in the original March qualifying.
"I'm seeking it for quite a few different reasons," Singleton told the Statesboro Herald last week. "I really started seeking this seat after having some issues with the Department of Family and Children Services as a foster parent."
He and his wife, Jill Singleton, an elementary school teacher, have served as foster parents four times, Neil Singleton said. When they received an infant into their home as a foster child at age 30 days and cared for the baby for nine months, they attempted to adopt the child.
But officials took the child away after he and his wife "started sticking up for the baby's rights" and getting an attorney involved, Singleton said. He said the child was returned to a mother with 11 children already in the system.
"After seeing how the state really treats certain members of society, and how they protect the state employees so much, I decided to run at that point in time, and I spoke to Senator Hill about it," Singleton said.
"We met many times over that issue, and I believe that we're letting too much control go into the government's hands and people are OK with it," he said. "But I want to limit government and put more say into the citizens' hands."
Singleton also described himself as an advocate for reform of the justice system.
"I think we need to look at the justice system as a whole, from the juvenile system up, and figure out where we went wrong, and I believe where we went wrong is we're focused on punishment instead of rehabilitation," he said. "There are certain things that need to be punished, definitely. But there are things that we can rehabilitate people from to be productive members of society if we give them the chance."
Singleton said he stands against abortion, but believes the question should be put in the hands of the citizens for a vote.
"My opinion doesn't matter, and that's the way I view what a senator should be," he said. "Though I have my opinions, I can't let my personal opinions sway the voters to what I don't believe the voters want."
He said he knows the state can do nothing to prohibit abortion unless the U.S. Supreme Court reverses the Roe v. Wade decision, and so he isn't running on this. Similarly, he said he views taxation as "theft" but is not campaigning on cutting taxes because he knows one state senator alone could not accomplish this.
Raised by a single mother in a farming community in central Kentucky south of Lexington, Singleton joined the Army at age 17. He served from from 1992 to 2009 and thus is a Gulf War-era veteran. He experienced a non-combat injury and is sometimes described as a disabled veteran. Singleton, soon to be 45, is a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
He served as a deputy sheriff in Denver, Colorado, while in the military there, and was a police officer in Savannah for four years.
Singleton discusses more of his views on his "Neil for Senate" Facebook page.
The other Republican candidates are just-retired Superior Court Judge Kathy Palmer of Emanuel County and Billy Hickman, CPA, and Scott Bohlke, M.D., both of Bulloch County.
A profile of independent candidate Stephen Jared Sammons of Emanuel County will appear in Saturday's Statesboro Herald, completing the series.