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Purcell to run for 159th District seat
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Former state Rep. Ann Purcell, flanked by family, friends and well-wishers, announces her intention to seek the 159th District seat in the state House of Representatives. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue

Surrounded by friends, family and supporters, Ann Purcell said she will seek re-election to the state House of Representatives.

Purcell, a former seven-term legislator who was defeated by Buddy Carter five years ago, announced Thursday morning that she will run for the seat Carter has vacated. Carter, the former Pooler mayor, is running for the 1st District Senate seat that Eric Johnson has relinquished to concentrate on his gubernatorial campaign.

“Buddy and I both want to be successful,” Purcell said as she stood in front of the Savannah Technical College Effingham campus. “With the team efforts we already have, it’s going to be an even better and greater team. I’m proud to offer my services back to the district. I’m excited to be able to offer my services to the people of the 159th District.”

Purcell had been asked to run for the 159th District seat, which Carter had planned to give up to run for Johnson’s post in the Senate. But when Johnson decided to step down from his office earlier this week, Carter followed suit and that accelerated the process.

“None of us expected this to unfold so quickly,” she said. “From the phone calls I got after Eric Johnson made his announcement and the encouragement I got, with this door open, I needed to take this opportunity and say I’m ready to be our voice in Atlanta again.”

The phone calls started coming on Tuesday evening, Purcell said, after Johnson announced he was giving up his seat in the Senate and started the dominos moving.

“We were trying to get our thoughts together,” she said. “It didn’t take me long to make that decision.”

Purcell served from 1991-2005 in the House of Representatives and was appointed by Gov. Sonny Perdue to the state Technical College System board in 2005 as an at-large member.

Once her opponent, Carter is now one of Purcell’s staunchest supporters. Fellow state Reps. Jon Burns and Bob Bryant, along with Pooler Mayor Mike Lamb and Rincon Mayor Ken Lee, were also on hand for Purcell’s announcement.

“She’ll be great — no question about it,” Carter said. “I’m elated she’s going to be running.”

Serving on the state technical college system board has kept Purcell involved in affairs at the state Capitol.

“She’s up to date,” Carter said. “She knows the area. She’s been involved. It will be a seamless transition.”

Purcell said she missed the camaraderie that comes with being one of the 180 members of the House. But she hasn’t lost touch with the issues or the lawmakers in the last five years, she said.

“I was very fortunate to be appointed to the Technical College System of Georgia. That kept me involved with our legislative body and the issues, particularly in the budget process,” she said. “It was neat to be able to go over to the Capitol and share the concerns of Effingham and west Chatham with the legislative body, as well as with education system and the needs for the roads.

“Anyone who is elected can’t do it by themselves. They have to have the people of the community behind them.”

State Rep. Jon Burns believes Purcell’s knowledge of the General Assembly and the issues will help make her as a legislator quickly, if she is re-elected. A special election for the seat will be held Nov. 3, in conjunction with local municipal elections.

“I think we’re very fortunate to have a candidate of her quality and her experience,” he said. “Politics and effective politics are about relationships.

She was a very effective member when she served. She has stayed involved. Ann’s past relationships in the House will be very important. She will not miss a beat.

“Effingham County will be well served by bringing Ann Purcell back to the state House.”