Lewis has represented Congressional District 11 on the State Transportation Board since 2011 and is currently in his second term. CD 11, in northwest Georgia, includes Bartow, Cherokee, and portions of Cobb and north Fulton counties. Lewis chairs the Board’s P3 Committee, is Vice Chair of the Property Utilization Committee and is on the Finance and Intermodal committees.
Lewis was born in Rome, Ga. and grew up with his sister— right outside his adult home of Cartersville in a small town called White, where his parents still live. He has spent most of his life within 12 miles of his homeplace. The early years set the stage for what lay ahead.
Looking back, I can’t think of anything I would change. My school, my friends, were lots of fun. We spent much of our time going fishing and hunting. Also, frog gigging, which is like fishing for frogs – you spear ‘em. My childhood was positive. A great life experience.
A FAMILY MAN
Lewis has been married to Kim for 28 years. They have three sons ages 17 to 24.
Being a father has been the most significant part of my life. It changes everything - your attitude, your outlook, your goals and ambitions. Our kids keep us active and healthy and on our toes. They are a lot of fun.
IN THE HOUSE
Lewis’ bachelor’s degree in political science and philosophy and MBA in economics and finance were well-suited for where he was heading.
Kim and I had been married for one year when I told her I wanted to run for office. She let me. Then we surprised ourselves and actually won! That was in ‘92 and I stayed in the Georgia House of Representatives for 16 years. Most of my efforts were geared toward economic development, including tax-related legislation to incentivize economic opportunities – like the Georgia Tourism Act, which provided incentives for tourist-related attractions to come to Georgia; and the Video Franchising Bill that enhanced competition by bringing in the communications industry to compete with cable television providers. The internet and web based platforms have since been added to the mix.
GETTING ON BOARD
Lewis’ term in the house ended in 2009 and in 2010 he decided to run for the State Transportation Board.
Being in the legislature has been really helpful in serving on the transportation board. The district I represent runs the gamut from rural to suburban to urban, including part of the city of Atlanta. When you represent areas that are so diverse, it’s incredible learning about the criteria to meet those different dynamics. Being on the board and in the legislature have been great educational experiences. It’s amazing the different areas of knowledge you are exposed to. Utilities, health care, manufacturing, technology - you name it. That just blows my mind.
NOT JUST ROADS AND BRIDGES
Lewis dispels a misconception many have about the State Transportation Board.
I have fun telling people that we’re in the communications business when we deploy fiber in our rights of way. We’re in the high-tech business when it comes to the infrastructure to complement and interface with driverless cars. We’re in the psychology business when we look to influence driver behavior. And we have some of the most complicated financial workings. The State Transportation Board is not just about asphalt, steel and concrete. We’re a lot more than that. We run the gamut of the whole human experience.
BUSINESS WAS HIS PLEASURE
For much of his adult life, Lewis was in real estate management and outdoor advertising. He has since sold both businesses.
I owned and operated apartment rental complexes and commercial properties. The billboard company was mostly my day-to-day job. I enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun.
NOTHING LIKE IT
Lewis loves college football.
While I started and ended my college days at Jacksonville State University, my two years in between at Tuscaloosa made me a true Alabama fan – Roll Tide. That’s who I root for. I like the NFL also, but to me, there’s nothing like college football.
GOING TO EXTREMES
Lewis keeps moving with outdoor activities like running, hiking and camping.
I like, I guess you would call them – extreme sports – where there are several events inside a team race – an eco-challenge where you might bike and run and swim and paddle. More of a team effort than an individual effort. These days, I’m not much into fishing or hunting – don’t have the patience. But stuff with constant motion – that’s different.
TREASURING THE RIDE
What does Lewis know now that he wishes he had known before?
I’ve learned that material success isn’t everything and that it isn’t an achievement of its own, per se. I’ve learned to enjoy and value the ride in getting to the goal. If you are a person of faith and God puts you through certain tests, one of the worst things you can do is to rush to the outcome because the valuable lesson could be somewhere in the process. As humans we tend to rush through the trials just to get out of them.
Lewis loves travel.
I travel all the time. I like Europe a lot. I like traveling with family—especially my boys—to places that I’ve enjoyed. So far they’ve liked every place I’ve taken them to.
How does Lewis remain optimistic?
Like any human being, I’ve had disappointments and setbacks. And you grow from those. While no one welcomes those events, there is value in not dodging them or becoming a victim as a result of them. Just face them head-on and work through them with the right attitude. You will typically come out stronger and can declare victory on the other side.