DeAnna Harris

REPUBLICAN DeAnna Harris of Smyrna, a marketing director for Virtual Properties Reality, has announced she’s challenging state Rep. Michael Smith, D-Marietta, in this year’s general election. Speaking to the Cobb GOP at their monthly breakfast, Harris said, “I believe that with my real estate background and small business, I have been very active in my community in Smyrna, working with the diversity community and with the housing board, I can bring the black vote with the Republican Party, and I can help make this seat red.”

Michael Smith

Harris pledged to defend the Second Amendment and put a stop to tax increases.

Smith, who one political analyst described as “invisible,” won the seat in 2012 after its former occupant, state Rep. Terry Johnson, D-Marietta, retired. It’s nothing personal against Smith, Harris said. She just wants to offer the residents in House District 41 conservative solutions.

“He’s a Democrat and he believes in the Democrat platform. I’m more of a conservative viewpoint, and I would like to implement those platforms,” she said.

Given the area has traditionally been represented by Democrats, how does Harris plan to convince them to vote for her? Harris said it’s all about showing residents that Republican policies work better.

“I think that I can really connect with them on a personal level because I’ve been there, I am there. I’m able to do it and kind of bring them over because most people have conservative beliefs. The demographics that are Democrats, African-American females, so I believe I will be able to have a connection. They’re Christian-believing people. So there’s just some stigmas that affect the Republican Party, and I think I can bring a better light to and have people educated about what really matters,” she said. “The Democratic Party supported Planned Parenthood, and I think that if people really knew the background of it, they wouldn’t necessary agree with it.”

Born and reared in Cleveland, Ohio, Harris, 31, earned a degree in textile design and advertising at Florida State University and a master’s at Cleveland State University in corporate communications.

She is the co-owner of Brown and Harris Media Company, a digital marketing firm.

Tracey Viars

SPECIAL ELECTION: Tracey Viars, who chairs the Kennesaw Downtown Development Authority, is running for the Kennesaw City Council seat vacated by Yvette Daniel, who resigned in January. The nonpartisan special election is May 22. The winning candidate will fill the remainder of Daniel’s term, which expires Dec. 31, 2019.

Viars was appointed to the development authority in 2012 and has served as its chair since 2015.

Owner/creative director at Creative Results. Inc., a marketing and consulting business, Viars has been active in organizing Dinner at the Depot, the city’s weekly event featuring live music and food trucks, as well as Kennesaw’s annual beer and wine festival.

One of the things she’d like to see is Kennesaw’s commercial tax base increased.

“We can have more balance than we have now. We have such amazing access to (Interstate) 75, we have KSU where it is. There’s no reason we can’t have the kind of growth and lifestyle that Acworth and Woodstock has. Everybody has been growing around us,” she said.

What’s been holding Kennesaw back?

“Unfortunately in Kennesaw we have a lot of … infighting. I think we’ve been fighting ourselves. We’re our worst enemy. Everybody has an opinion. Everybody needs to be listened to. …What I hope to bring to this situation is some peace. Some togetherness. Let’s work together. We don’t have to agree, but we can still be friends. We’re not all going to agree, but we don’t have to call names and treat people like they’re less intelligent because they don’t think the way you do.”

Viars said she is a fan of Kennesaw Mayor Derek Easterling.

“He’s brought a humanity to our Kennesaw culture. He’s a real person. He doesn’t mind admitting when he’s made a mistake. He’s all in. He’s truly all in. I think he’s very fair,” she said.

An avid exerciser, Viars says she power walks daily and hasn’t missed a day in 6 years.

Most of all, she is a booster for her city.

“They always laugh at me and say you’re the head cheerleader. That’s honestly how I feel I am. I think our city needs that more than it needs anything right now,” she said.

Born in Tucker, Viars, 51, earned a marketing degree from Georgia State and a master’s in professional writing from Kennesaw State University. She and her husband, Ted, a market manager for Toro Company, have three sons: a 21 year old in the workforce, a 19 year old at KSU and a 14 year old who is homeschooled.

SPEAKER CIRCUIT: State Sen. Michael Williams, Republican candidate for governor, is the guest speaker at the Madison Forum’s Saturday meeting. Breakfast begins at 8 a.m. with the speaker at 9 a.m. at Pinetree Country Club, 3400 McCollum Parkway NW, Kennesaw. …Conservative pundit Phil Kent and Keli Gambrill, who is challenging Commissioner Bob Weatherford, are the speakers at the Cobb Taxpayers Association meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 26. The event will be held at The House of Lu off Marietta Square. Kent is scheduled to provide a regional perspective on conservatism in Georgia and its importance and impact on Cobb County.

Gambrill, whose campaign slogan is: “The Only True Conservative in the Race,” will take questions from the audience. RSVP to:

ENDORSEMENT: The Marietta-based Georgia Tea Party has endorsed the RAISE Act, a bill introduced by U.S. Sens. David Perdue, R-Georgia, and Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, to fix the nation’s legal immigration system.

“The Georgia Tea Party has always believed that our legal immigration system should benefit ‘We the People,’ not politicians or special interests, and the RAISE Act does just that by changing our focus to become more of a merit-based system,” said J.D. Van Brink, tea party chairman.

Joe Kirby

RECOGNITION: The family of the late Joe Kirby, a longtime columnist and editorial page editor for the MDJ, has donated his personal collection of photographs, books, research materials, notes and awards to the Cobb Landmarks & Historical Society.

Kirby, who died Oct. 30, 2015, was the author of “The Marietta Country Club: A Centennial History, 1915-2015”; “The Bell Bomber Plant”; and “The Lockheed Plant.” He also co-authored “Then and Now: Marietta” and “Then and Now: Marietta Revisited” and served as contributing editor to Civil War News for many years.

Cobb Landmarks has recently embarked on a $600,000 capital expansion project, entitled The Next Generation, which will enlarge Cobb Landmarks’ William Root House Museum campus. Because of the significance of the collection, Cobb Landmarks will be naming the new research library the Joe Kirby Research Library in his honor. For more information, visit

PRESERVATION: Pat Burns sends word that the Concord Covered Bridge Historic District and Battle of Ruff’s Mill site is facing boundary deconstruction and visual changes for the first time since the Civil War after Cobb County’s Historic Preservation Commission approved a Certificate of Appropriateness for an approximate 7,000-square-foot structure to be inserted into heart of the district.

Dana Johnson, the county’s community development director, said in fact the proposed home approved by the HPC is 4,000 square feet.

Challenging the certificate, Burns says, are preservationists, members of the Friends of the Concord Covered Bridge Historic District and neighbors. She said this comes less than a year after the Cobb Board of Commissioners spent $800,000 to renovate the Concord Covered Bridge, the gateway into the historic district.

The appeal will be heard by Cobb County’s Board of Commissioners at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

HOUSE HUNTING? For its 100 best places to live in America in 2017, Money magazine listed one spot in Georgia, ranking Vinings at No. 79. The magazine lists Vinings with a population of 12,329, a median home price of $226,633, projected job growth of 7.2 percent, median household income of $73,103, a 22 minute average commute time, 217 clear days per year, and an 81 percent high school graduation rate.

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