State Rep. Tom Taylor said after four terms in office, he thought it was best to let someone else step in.
“It was time,” he said.
Taylor announced in October he was not seeking re-election in 2018. In an interview he said that while he loves his job under the Gold Dome, it was time to bring in new blood to the seat that represents Dunwoody, parts of Chamblee and Doraville.
He also acknowledged his drunk driving arrest and guilty plea last year “absolutely” played a role as well in his decision to not run again because of how it would likely be used against him in a viable campaign.
“I was wrong. I pled guilty because I knew it was an awful mistake,” he said. “It was definitely going to be an issue in the campaign.”
Taylor was stopped last year in the city of Clayton in Rabun County for speeding and charged with DUI after a breathalyzer test found his blood alcohol content was .225, more than three times the legal limit. He also had several teenage foreign exchange students in his vehicle at the time.
“I’m going to be real honest. This is an issue I’ve dealt with for a long time,” he said.
“It was almost a relief [when this happened] where I said I need help. It was actually a wake-up call. I realize I put lives in danger,” he said.
Asked how is recovery was going today, he said, “One day at a time.”
Taylor also said there is a sense of freedom now that he knows he does not have to run a re-election campaign. He said he intends to focus on issues he is passionate about — transit and filmmaking.
Taylor is chair of the MARTOC committee, which oversees spending on MARTA. He said he prides himself in being a nearly daily MARTA rider. He also heads up the state Economic Development Subcommittee on Film and Entertainment.
“I still have 14 months in office. I’m not resigning. There’s a lot to do,” he said.
Taylor is part of a legislative study group to determine if it is time for state funding to come into play when it comes to paying for MARTA.
“But with state funding comes some state control,” he said.
For the past several years, Taylor has also sponsored a bill to change the state Constitution to allow for independent school districts. While the bill originated for Dunwoody to create such a school district, it would be for all cities in the state, he said. Changing the state Constitution requires a 2/3 majority of the Legislature which then sends it to the ballot for voters to decide.
“I’ve always been able to get the bill out of committee, but never had votes to get it out of the House. It’s not Republican or Democrat, black or white, it’s about turf,” he said. “Schools and rural hospitals are the largest employers in many districts.”
“This is really my only regret,” he said. “But there is a major difference between passing a bill and passing a constitutional amendment and then a referendum.”
Taylor said that while he’s served four terms in the General Assembly, his days of walking the halls of the Capitol go far back to when he lobbied for the creation and incorporation of Dunwoody.
“I’ve been at the Capitol for some 13 years — that’s more than 20 percent of my life,” he said. “This should not be a career. I looked at the picture of my freshman class and more than half are gone now.
“This is something you do with a passion and then it’s time to leave,” he said.