"A Hard Trail to Hike": Democrat Hickey Announces Bid for House Seat

Patrick Hickey, 27 (pictured with his wife, Selina, and baby girl, Scarlett), will run as a Democrat for the District 1 Georgia House seat now held by John Deffenbaugh.

The Planet after some research was able this week to confirm conclusively the existence of that rarest and most endangered of species, the Democratic candidate for political office in Dade County.

Moreover, the specimen is young, healthy, energetic, and determined to become District 1’s voice in the Georgia House of Representatives in 2018.

“I can't fill out the papers to make it official until next year but I have every intention of running for the district and coming out a winner,” wrote Patrick Hickey, 27, of Wildwood, asking The Planet to introduce him to its readers. The Planet is delighted to oblige, and invites other candidates to use this space for similar purposes.

Patrick Hickey is new to the political arena except for an exploratory venture into Tennessee politics when he was living in Chattanooga. He qualified to run for the Tennessee District 30 (Hamilton County) state house seat, but moved out of the district before the race began in earnest.

Hickey married a Dade County girl, Selina Slack, three years ago, and the couple have resided in Wildwood for over a year now. The young Hickeys have a 14-month-old daughter, Scarlett. Hickey, who says he has worked since he was 14 years old, is currently employed by Kenco in Chattanooga as a forklift operator.

The District 1 House seat Hickey aims for, representing Dade and Walker County residents, has been held since 2013 by Republican John Deffenbaugh. Deffenbaugh, though a resident of Dade’s West Brow community, has been thin on the ground in the county since he won his seat in 2012. He does not attend county commission meetings, where he may still feel unwelcome after the Hutcheson Medical Center debacle several years back.

(The five Dade commissioners had voted unanimously not to join Catoosa and Walker counties in guaranteeing the struggling hospital financially. Deffenbaugh acted contrary to their will, voting for a measure to force the county to do so. Dade persisted in declining, and was vindicated when the hospital subsequently bankrupted, leaving Walker and Catoosa on the hook for some $20 million.)

Certain county pols are still frosty about Deffenbaugh's representation of Dade. But prospective candidate Hickey says criticism of Deffenbaugh’s performance is not central to his run for Deffenbaugh’s seat. He has met the representative only once, said Hickey, at last April’s public information meeting about May’s Highway 299 bridge replacement, which took place at the Wildwood church Hickey and his family attend. “I don’t want there to be bad blood between somebody running for the seat and somebody holding the seat,” said Hickey.

So why does Hickey want to run for office? “I’m not in it for a name, I’m not in it for glory or anything--I’m just in it to represent the people in the district I’m living in,” said the young Democrat. “As much as I sometimes despise politics, I’m in it for helping the people.”

But why, asked The Planet, make a stab at the Georgia House, as opposed to a more entry-level county commission or school board seat? Because that’s where the local Democratic Party wants him, said Hickey. He has talked to Tom McMahan, who has been county party chairman and a state house candidate himself, as well as tothe Walker County party head. “They were behind me 100 percent because they wanted to get a Democrat in the state house office,” said Hickey.

McMahan, he said, will be his campaign manager.

As for running as a Democrat in a county that voted almost 80 percent Republican in the last general election? “I know that running as a Democrat, in north Georgia, especially, it’s going to be a hard trail to hike,” said Hickey. “But I’m determined to make it where people don’t just look at the party, people look at the person that wants to represent them.”

Like most Georgians, Hicky says he doesn’t agree with either major party on all issues--“That’s just how it is”--and briefly considered running as an independent. But that’s even harder than being a blue fish swimming upstream in a red river, he says: “You don’t have that big party base behind you.”

Besides, said Hickey party affiliation is just not that important for local voters: “They’re not deeply involved in parties,” he said. “They want someone that listens to them.”

If you’d like Hickey to listen to you, he promises to make himself available at public meetings and events from now until the November 2018 election. You may also email him at Hickeyfam41214@aol.com.

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