Car dealers step up to rep

When Kim New’s father ran for county commissioner in her childhood, she found herself knocking on doors to drum up votes.

The early introduction to politics fueled her drive to one day serve. The second-generation car dealer and newest member of the Georgia Independent Automobile Dealers Association Hall of Fame is in her freshman term in the Georgia General Assembly.

“I have always wanted to be of service,” New said. “I’ve done things adjacent. GIADA filled my cup to work in my industry and give back. In the community, I’m a member of Epsilon Sigma Alpha, which raises money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I’ve always wanted to be in politics since I was a little girl.

“This is my freshman year and I’ve had a wonderful time. It really is awesome.”

New and fellow independent car dealers Sam Harless of Spring, Texas, and Andy Zay of Huntington, Ind., are balancing running their dealerships with serving their states in the legislature.

“It’s hard because you’re gone so much. We’re a part-time legislature, where we meet for 140 days every two years. But last session we had three special sessions and this year two. It takes you away from your business a lot,” Harless said. “Fortunately, we have great employees to pick up the load when you’re gone.”

And the work at the capitol follows them back to their hometown for the meetings, appearances and constituency work.

“When you’re home, you’re constantly doing political work, whether it’s networking with some of your colleagues, local elected officials,” Zay said. “You understand what’s needed to provide the best constituent service and to have the best public service we can in Indiana.”

But knowing they are impacting their community and helping individuals, many of whom are or have been their customers, and working to make it better is worth the heavy workload.

“You make sacrifices, but it’s very worthwhile,” Harless said.

Read the full story about the three car dealers turned legislators in the August issue of UCD.

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