By Natalie Simms
On this Election Day eve, we thought we would check in with some former state legislators who represented Northwest Georgia. We caught up with a few to see what they have been doing since leaving political office.
E.M. “Buddy” Childers, now age 80, served in the Georgia House of Representatives for District 15 for 30 years from 1974-2004. He was defeated in his last bid for re-election by Barry Loudermilk, now U.S. Representative for District 11. While in office, Childers was chair of the Health and Human Services committee.
Childers hasn’t slowed down since leaving office. He retired from the telecommunications industry and went on to get his real estate license. He is currently a realtor with Reese and Smallwood Real Estate in Rome, where he has been working since October 2017.
“I take spinning classes at the YMCA every week and I work at the food pantry on Fridays giving out a week’s worth of groceries to those in need,” he says. “I also have my church activities, so I stay pretty busy.”
Childers also is a prostate cancer survivor. He has been in remission for 26 years but continues with PSA testing. “I thank the Lord for good health. I still have to get checked every three months and if it’s high, I take a hormone shot, but I’m doing great with that.”
As far as any current political involvement, Childers says, “I am on the sidelines watching. I still vote and do my civic duty but I’m not involved much locally.”
Richard Marable served 12 years in the Georgia State Senate, representing District 52, from 1990-2002. He was defeated in his re-election bid by Republican Preston Smith. A retired educator, Marable served as the chair of the Education Committee and as Majority Whip during his tenure in the Georgia Senate.
“I enjoyed my time there and was the first ever educator to ever chair the Education committee. But the voters got tired of me,” he says. “I have not been involved in politics since that time but I do still vote.”
After leaving office, Marable also retired from his teaching career with Rome City Schools where he served as teacher and coach at East Rome High School and then Rome High School. He and his wife, Kathie, then focused their efforts on their two businesses, The Balloon Factory and Catering 2 Kids. But those closed in 2008 when their building was knocked down to expand Barron Stadium.
“At that time, I decided to go back to coaching and teaching with Floyd County Schools just part-time. I taught at Model High School and served as a community coach, and then did some work at the Alternative School and Glenwood, where I still volunteer and do some substitute teaching,” he says.
But for the majority of the last year, Marable has focused his efforts on serving as the community relations consultant for Aaron Excellence, the corporation owned by Roman Jim Aaron that includes his eight McDonald’s restaurants in Georgia and Tennessee.
“I help with community outreach our McDonald’s restaurants. It’s kinds of like being in the Legislature. I still get to meet folks in the community and see how we can help them. I get to work with schools and local sports teams, help design our floats for Christmas parades and promote special events like our current Breast Cancer outreach,” he says.
“I am really enjoying this job. I still get to entertain kids and do a variety of fun things. As long as the Lord keeps me healthy, I will stay here as long as the opportunity is available.”
Preston W. Smith served four terms as state senator for District 52 from 2003-2011. He ran for state Attorney General in 2010, but lost to Sam Olens. A private practice attorney, Smith left politics and went to work full-time in the private sector as the chief revenue officer for Apollo MD, a national medical practice.
“I was there about eight and half years and then transferred to Jackson Health Care in the Alpharetta area. I now work as President of Tyler and Company, a part of the Jackson Health Care family of companies,” he says. “We are an executive search firm, working to recruit senior leadership for hospitals around the country.”
Outside of the office, Smith stays with his family. He and his wife, Elizabeth, just welcome a new baby girl in October. Smith also has four children from a previous marriage with two in high school, one in college and one working for the PGA Tour in Jacksonville, Fla.
“Our daughter Abigail Grace was born in October and it has just been the biggest blessing. Just seeing her birth brought things into focus…you just see the imprint of God,” he says.
As for the future, Smith says he has no intentions to run for political office again.
“I really enjoyed serving and the folks that worked with me. I am still close with them and spend some time at the (state) Capitol each year, but I don’t look to get back in it. I think long-term political service is not healthy and term limits are best. Having people with fresh ideas is a great thing…stay too long and there can be a staleness in service.”
We also reached out to former state Rep. Paul Smith, who served 22 years for District 12 from 1984-2006, but he was recuperating from a recent hospital stay and not available for an interview. Smith, a retired County Extension Director, is still active with the Exchange Club and the Coosa Valley Fair Association, where he serves as the director of the Livestock events.