An alarm rings at 4:30 a.m. in small, country house and a man and his wife roll out of bed. They start their days with a morning workout routine, and then drop their daughter off at school. From there, the mother drives to Bremen High School to teach Mathematics, while the father takes the commute to the Georgia State Capitol to serve as his community’s State Representative.
Dustin Hightower joined the Georgia House of Representatives following a special election in January 2012. The District 68 Representative that preceded Hightower, Tim Bearden, received a special appointment by the governor and thus vacated his seat in the House.
“Tim and I were friends before the opportunity even presented itself,” said Hightower. “We would talk politics with my great uncle and the need for Godly, Christian people in politics who were not afraid to follow their convictions and do the right thing no matter what ̶ people who would not just be a politician, but would represent their community to the best of their ability. Then, Tim came to me and told me he thought I’d be great for the position.”
After convening with his family and gaining their support, Hightower began campaigning. Together, they promoted Hightower as the small-town boy he is, and encouraged voting by putting up yard signs and going door to door.
As the youngest of the five candidates in the race, Hightower was proud to make it to the final run-off election as one of two candidates. Hightower narrowly defeated fellow Republican Alen Martinez, winning 55.4 percent of the vote. Having officially won the election, Hightower was eager to begin serving the community he calls home.
Unlike the United States Congress which is in session year-round, the Georgia State Congress is only in session from January until the beginning of April. During the months the House is not in session, Hightower works as a local attorney and partner in the law firm Miller & Hightower, focusing on personal injury, criminal defense and family law.
Hightower serves on multiple committees within the House, including the Appropriations Committee, Governmental Affairs Committee, Judiciary Non-Civil Committee, Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee and the Special Rules Committee. He also works on a number of bills, one of his most prominent and most passionate being House Bill 171, or the American Laws for American Courts Bill.
With his background in law, Hightower has strong opinions regarding the recent trend to implement foreign laws in American courts. Other states, including our next-door neighbor Alabama, have already passed similar legislation, which essentially restricts the enforcement of foreign laws in any level of United States courts. Hightower is currently gaining more support for the bill and hopes to see it passed before the House ends its 2015 session.
While Hightower has high ambitions and goals for his political career, his current focus is his family and being there for his two year-old daughter and five month old son while they grow up.
“To go on the federal level, you have to go to Washington,” says Hightower. “It’s hard enough for me to be away from my family now, just commuting to Atlanta three to four months out of the year is tough.
“I don’t think I’d be interested in going to Washington right now, because I don’t want to miss watching my kids grow up, but later on in life it’s something I may be interested in,” Hightower continues. “That’s not to say if the opportunity opened up and everything was there and I felt it was what I called to do I would turn it down, it’s just not my goal right now.”
Hightower graduated from UWG in 2004 with his Bachelor’s and went on to graduate with his law degree from John Marshall Law School in Atlanta. Hightower found UWG to be the perfect sized school, offering an abundance of opportunities to involve oneself in student life.
“I quickly became involved in my fraternity, Chi Phi, Student Government Association, Interfraternity Council, and became an Orientation Leader and Ambassador—so there were multiple leadership opportunities if you were willing to try for them, they were there for you,” says Hightower.
By involving himself in such an array of organizations, Hightower was able to break out of his typical friend group and learned how to handle himself around different-minded people.
“In life we gravitate towards people like us, but when you join these organizations, you are forced to deal with a lot of different personalities that you otherwise would not have hung out with,” says Hightower. “It develops your skills to negotiate, talk, understand and listen.”
One of Hightower’s most memorable contributions to the UWG campus was SGA’s approval of the funding to build the Campus Center during his term as a Senator. A plaque hanging in the Campus Center entrance honors and memorializes that year’s SGA for their dedication to bettering the campus.
“If you walk through the front door, there’s a plaque on the wall with all our names from that year’s SGA, and my name is on that plaque. It’s pretty awesome to know that I had a lasting impact to the point that my name is right there on a huge plaque.”