Sonny Perdue

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Sonny Perdue
Sonny Perdue.JPG
81st Governor of Georgia
Former officeholder
In office
January 2003 - January 2011
PartyRepublican
PredecessorRoy E. Barnes
Personal
BirthdayDecember 20, 1946
ProfessionVeterinarian
George Ervin "Sonny" Perdue III (born December 20, 1946) is a former Governor of Georgia. Upon his inauguration in January 2003, he became the first Republican governor of Georgia since Benjamin Conley at the end of Reconstruction in the 1870s.

Personal

Perdue was born in Perry, Georgia and grew up in a small town called Bonaire. His father was a farmer and his mother was a teacher. Perdue has been known as Sonny since childhood and prefers to be called by that name (he was sworn in and signs official documents as "Sonny Perdue").

As a youngster he flew a crop duster and has maintained his pilot's license since.

Perdue played quarterback at Warner Robins High School and was a walk-on at the University of Georgia, where he was also a member of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity (Beta-Lambda chapter).

Perdue was in the Air Force rising to the rank of Captain before his discharge.

In 1971 he earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine and worked as a veterinarian before becoming a small business owner, eventually starting three small businesses.

Perdue and his wife, Mary, were married in 1972. They have four children (two boys and two girls) and eight grandchildren (the most recent grandchild was born in early January 2008 and the Governor made a public announcement of the birth during his State of the State Address on January 16, 2008), and have also been foster parents for eight children.

In addition to flying, Perdue is also an avid sportsman.

Perdue had a cameo appearance as an East Carolina football coach in the movie We Are Marshall, large portions of which were filmed in Georgia.

Political history

Perdue won a Georgia state senate seat in 1992 as a Democrat. He switched to the Republican party in April 1998.

Election to governor

Perdue was elected Governor of Georgia in November 2002, defeating incumbent Roy Barnes, 52% to 46% in a three way race. Perdue's defeat of Barnes was largely attributable to his campaign's relentless criticism of Barnes's efforts to change the state flag, removing a confederate symbol from the flag many found offensive.

Actions as governor

Perdue's main focus in office has been on reforming state government, improving education, and growing the state's economy. Perdue has advocated comprehensive ethics reform legislation, and has instituted a series of reforms designed to cut waste in government, most notably the sale of surplus vehicles and real estate. (Prior to Perdue's becoming governor, no state agency had even compiled an inventory of what assets the state owned, much less managed them.)

In education, Perdue has focused on returning decision-making to the local level. Since Perdue took office, Georgia briefly moved out of last place in SAT scores; though it returned to last place in 2005, in 2006 Georgia rose to 46th place.

Having won office after promising to let the citizens of Georgia vote to determine their flag, Perdue signed legislation for a flag referendum in 2004. The choices given to Georgia voters were a modified version of the 1879 Georgia flag that had been used as the state's official banner since 2003 or the version of the flag created in 2001 by the Roy Barnes administration. (The nickname of this flag was the Barnes flag or Barnes rag). Perdue angered some rural Georgians when the 1956 flag was not a choice on the ballot after promising throughout his campaign that the '56 flag design would appear in any referendum. However, Perdue was faced with a Democratic House that would not consider having the 1956 flag on the referendum.

Controversies

Land ownership

Property in Georgia

In mid-2003, Perdue purchased 101 acres (0.41 km) of land next to his Houston County home, for $303,000, after negotiating directly with the owner. The purchase was done using a limited liability company named Maryson LLC, a corporation formed on July 23, 2003.[1] Maryson's registered agent was Stephan Holcomb, a Houston County dentist. Perdue appointed Holcomb, a neighbor of the governor's sister in Houston County, to the state Board of Dentistry in 2003. The lawyer who organized Maryson LLC was state representative Larry O'Neal (R-Warner Robins), the chairman of the Ways & Means committee of the House.[2] Perdue paid the 2003 tax bill on the property after it was acquired by Maryson, Houston County tax records show.

In May 2004, the land was transferred from Maryson to Perdue's own name. The transfer price was recorded at $305,000. Maryson was dissolved on July 9, 2005, a year after the sale.

Perdue failed to disclose the property or any interest in Maryson on his financial disclosure forms for calendar years 2003 and 2004, as required by Georgia law. Five days after Maryson was incorporated in 2003, O'Neal also incorporated a partnership for Perdue and his wife, Mary, called Perdue Plantation LLC, according to the Secretary of State's Office. This partnership also was not listed on Perdue's 2004 financial disclosure report. The Secretary of State's Office said an official is required to report ownership or a fiduciary position in a company.

Praying for rain

In November of 2007, while Georgia suffered from one of the worst droughts in several decades, Perdue, along with lawmakers and local ministers, prayed for rain on the steps of the state Capitol. This came shortly after Alabama Governor Bob Riley issued a proclamation declaring a week in July as "Days of Prayer for Rain" to "humbly ask for His blessings and to hold us steady in times of difficulty." The Atlanta Freethought Society opposed the rain prayer saying in a statement, "The governor can pray when he wants to. What he can't do is lead prayers in the name of the people of Georgia."[3]

2006 re-election campaign

Perdue's Democratic opponent in the November 2006 general election was Lieutenant Governor Mark Taylor. Libertarian Garrett Michael Hayes was also on the ballot. Sonny Perdue was proclaimed the winner early, and finished with nearly 58% of the vote.

Awards

On October 26, 2010, Governing magazine named Perdue as one of eight "Public Officials of the Year" for his work in reforming and streamlining his government's bureaucracy.[4] Other honorees included Connecticut Representative Diana Urban, Texas Representative Jerry Madden, and Texas Senator John Whitmire. Each year since 1994, Governing has selected a handful of state and local officials to honor for standout job performance. The Public Officials of the Year program "recognizes leaders from state, city and county government who exemplify the ideals of public service."[5]

Contact information

The Office of the Governor
State of Georgia
203 State Capitol
Atlanta, Georgia 30334

Phone: 404-656-1776
Fax: 404-657-7332

See also

Governor of Georgia

References

External links