From the Pickens County Progress
After chowing-down on all-you-can-eat tomato sandwiches at Lee Newton Park Saturday afternoon, Republican candidates for three Georgia offices each spent a few minutes telling Pickens County what makes them top choice for elected office.
Mike Evans, one of five attending candidates competing for the 9th Congressional seat being vacated by Nathan Deal, took the opportunity to sling some tomatoes at contender Tom Graves who will vacate his 12th District House seat in hopes of winning the congressional office. Truett Moss II and Jasper Post Master Rick Ballew also announced their candidacy for Graves’ vacated house seat at Saturday’s event.
Gubernatorial candidates Karen Handel and Nathan Deal addressed the crowd as well, as did Doug MacGinnitie for Secretary of State and Mike Cowan, Bill Stephens and Jeremy Jones for congress.
Deal and Handel were the first to take to the mic, with Deal touting his conservative voting record, family values and, in a later interview, briefly speaking about highlights of his platform.
Deal cited education, transportation and water as the paramount issues Georgia’s next governor will face, and the congressman said he understands the challenges faced by school boards, including Pickens’, who are experiencing drastic budget cuts during the recession.
While some progress has been made, he said, there is more work to be done.
Deal also said he would work to simplify the process for reservoir funding and construction, an issue that is especially relevant for Pickens County.
Handel, who is vacating her seat as Georgia’s Secretary of State to run for governor, said the state faces many challenges and the office needs someone with leadership skills and the tenacity to “get the job done.” Handel cited challenges she has faced in her personal and public life as important qualifying factors.
Handel spoke about her successes as Chair of the Fulton County Commission, which, according to her, she left with the highest cash reserve in its history. She also stressed her championing of proof of citizenship in the voter process to maintain the “integrity of the system.”
Education, transportation and water were also key issues Handel addressed as challenges for Georgia’s next governor, and she stressed the importance of moving away from “managing by crisis,” and creating a long-term vision for the state’s future.
“As governor I will look each challenge in the eye and say, ‘Bring it on!’” she said.
Handel said she is the only candidate to run a chamber, a county and a state agency.
9th Congressional candidate Mike Evans, who has served in the Senate, has been Chair of the Board of the Georgia Department of Transportation and currently serves as the 9th District representative on the board of the Department of Community Affairs, singled out contender Tom Graves as a “John Kerry shuffler,” pointing to Graves’ voting record as being a reflection of the fourth-term General Assembly member’s non-conservative tendencies.
Evans said Graves has had 28 opportunities to vote against wasteful pork barrel spending during his tenure, but that he only voted against them on six occasions.
Evans then accused Graves of voting in favor of the same excessive spending he initially voted against.
“If you want someone that does the old John Kerry Shuffle it ain’t me,” Evans said, who stressed his flawlessly conservative voting record.
Evans also pointed to the Tate Depot restoration project’s grant, totaling $400,000, and the GaDOT hurricane relief he helped bring to Pickens County.
“If you like what you’ve been getting out of DC and Atlanta these last years, then my opponents are your kind of Republicans. But if you want a reformer with a proven record of demanding real budget reform, Mike Evans is your choice,” he said.
Graves didn’t directly respond to the criticism, but rather focused on high points of his own qualifications as a four-term 12th District House Representative.
Graves said he is tired of the frivolous spending in Washington and the erosions of freedom, with government intervention becoming more commonplace in our everyday lives. He said he would fight to defend the taxpayers’ rights.
Graves said he is looking to create jobs and “restore the freedoms that have made the public great…we need the freedom to dream, achieve, succeed and the right to fail without government bailouts,” he said. “Do we want a country full of free citizens or a country full of subjects?”
Truett Moss II and Rick Ballew, both running for Graves’ vacated house seat, kept their speeches simple. Moss said he was a dedicated member of the GOP and is looking to serve his party. Ballew, Jasper’s Post Master, said, “I am here to serve. I am going to throw my name in the hat and I am hopeful I can get your support.”