By Mary Catherine Gaston
After two decades in law enforcement and four terms as Haralson County Commission Chairman, Allen Poole is drawing from both experiences as chief highway safety officer for the Peach State.
Rural roots: One of 14 children of a railroad worker-turned-sharecropper, Allen Poole was raised on a small farm near Buchanan in Haralson County. After retiring from a career in law enforcement, Poole was elected and served four consecutive terms as chairman of the Haralson County Board of Commissioners, during which time his proudest accomplishment was improving internet connectivity in the rural, northwest Georgia county. Though his current position in Governor Brian Kemp’s cabinet requires him to spend his weekdays in Atlanta, the farm his family moved to when he was 4 years old remains home base for him and the cattle herd he owns and manages with his son Blake.
What makes him a hero? After spending nearly 20 years as a Georgia Highway Patrolman and now serving as director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, Poole wakes up every day with the same thought on his mind: How he can make Georgia’s highways safer for the public. “My goal as director of this office is to alleviate ALL crashes, injuries and fatalities on Georgia’s highways. It may be ‘pie in the sky,’ but I’m going to keep working toward it with the help of my many partners in other agencies. It’s going to take all of us working together to reach that goal.”
A cause that’s close to his heart: Respect for his fellow human being. “Over the years, the respect we showed one another in communities has eroded. I’d like for us, as a people, to get back to that place of respect. It’s ok to have different opinions, but you don’t have to demonize others just because they don’t think like you.”
Something he wants every rural Georgian to realize: Atlanta may be the economic hub of the Southeast, but the state’s urban core needs the rural areas to support and sustain that success. “One thing I encourage rural Georgia to do is to stand up and be heard. We can’t sit back and let the urban areas dictate our beliefs or determine our future. As long as we convey to the state’s leaders that we are an important component of Georgia’s prosperity, we will be successful.”
Where he sees hope for rural communities: Friends “under the Gold Dome” who understand and fight for rural Georgia. “Gov. Kemp is 100% behind putting Georgia to work and keeping rural Georgia connected. Likewise, [House] Speaker Ralston believes in making sure that we include rural Georgia when we have discussions of the economy and how to keep it prosperous and growing.”