I am the most qualified person for this position.William R. “Billy” Hickman Jr.
RINCON — After walking in the shoes of a CPA for more than four decades, William R. “Billy” Hickman Jr. is confident that he has the ability to keep Georgia on solid financial footing — even during trying times.
Hickman, 68, is a candidate for the state’s District 4 Senate seat formerly held by Reidsville’s Jack Hill, who died unexpectedly April 6. The special election is set June 9 and a runoff, if needed, is slated Aug. 11.
“I am the most qualified person for this position,” said Hickman, a partner in the Statesboro firm Dabbs, Hickman, Hill & Cannon. “I am a seasoned business person. I’ve been in practice for 46 years; I’m an accountant; a CPA; I’m conservative; and I’m a Republican.
“I feel like I am the most trained because of the work I’ve done.”
Hickman has been involved in strategic planning, forecasting and budgeting for many of his firm’s clients.
“Where we are going now, particularly with the drop in revenues and sales tax, we need someone who understands budgeting,” Hickman said. “We also need someone who can communicate because this coronavirus has affected everybody everywhere.”
In a memo Friday, budget leaders in the General Assembly and Gov. Brian Kemp’s office directed state agencies to propose how they will reduce their budgets for the current fiscal year by 14 percent. Some stage agencies have been asked to trim as much as $3.8 billion.
If not for his death, Hill would have been right in the middle of the difficult decisions. He was writing Georgia’s fiscal year 2021 budget when he died while serving his 15th Senate term.
“The passing of Jack Hill is a tremendous loss for our district and our state,” Hickman said. “His knowledge and experience were unmatched and he leaves shoes that will be incredibly tough to fill. But in these uncertain times, it’s vital that we have a trusted, steady hand to represent our values at the Capitol.
“We need a proven conservative leader with real business and finance experience to navigate the impacts of COVID-19 on our families, business and economy.”
Hickman has chaired the Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce and served as president of the Downtown Rotary Club of Statesboro, the Ogeechee Technical College Foundation and the Southeast Georgia Society of Certified Public Accountants. In addition, he is currently an Excelsior Electric Membership Corporation board member.
If he is victorious, Hickman has made the following vows:
— secure every available resource for District 4 to deal with the impacts of the coronavirus
— provide a bold voice to put the district first, not Atlanta
— invigorate job growth
— improve access to healthcare in rural communities
— give every student the means to succeed in a 21st-century workforce
— fight against big government interfering with the right to life, gun ownership and religious liberty
Hickman, who described himself as “a spiritual person,” said he has never considered running for public office before. He decided to enter the race only after a great deal of prayerful consideration.
He hopes voters will pray for him, too.
“I’ve never dealt with billions of dollars like Jack but I’ve dealt a lot of times with millions and hundreds of millions,” Hickman said. “I’m not saying adding a few zeroes makes it easier because it doesn’t but I’ve basically been in training for this for forty years now. It really makes me uniquely qualified to step in and take this over.”
Hickman has been endorsed by Congressman Buddy Carter, Georgia House District 159 Rep. Jon Burns and Georgia House District 161 Rep. Bill Hitchens. In addition, four of the six sheriffs in Senate District 4 are backing Hickman, including Effingham County’s Jimmy McDuffie.
Since social distancing prevents the handshakes and large gatherings that are usually associated with campaigning, Hickman has resorted to other measures to tout his candidacy personally.
“I think if the coronavirus wasn’t around, campaigning would be a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s still fun but it’s very stressful. You’ve got to make a lot of phone calls and I’ve done a couple Zoom interviews.
“I also have a very active Facebook page. I put stuff on there just about everyday. “I even have an Instagram account and people are following me on that.”
While respecting social distancing guidelines, Hickman said he will soon start door-to-door campaigning.
“I think people are starting to open up a little bit,” he said. “We will start having some meet-and-greet events. It’s been very stressful because I am very much a people person.
“I love to be around people and I love to talk to people.”
The other candidates District 4 hopefuls are Dr. Scott Bohlke of Brooklet; former Middle Circuit Superior Court Judge Kathy Palmer of Swainsboro; Gulf War era Army veteran Neil Singleton of Collins and a soon-to-graduate law school student Stephen Jared Sammons of Adrian.