Candidates Speak to Albany

KK Snyder

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Jobs, education and taxes were hot topics Tuesday night as a number of candidates for federal, state and local offices had a few minutes in the spotlight at a political forum hosted at Darton College.

Organized by Darton students on the Democratic Independent Republican Team – or DIRT – the event drew a small number of attendees who were not either candidates or directly involved with a campaign. The forum gave candidates the opportunity to briefly address what they see as the issues most pertinent to the offices for which they are vying.

Governor candidates had the most to say when it came to the topic of business and how Georgia - especially Southwest Georgia - can position itself to attract new business and industry. Democratic candidate David Poythress said the economy and jobs will be his number one issues if elected. He vowed to not accept a paycheck as governor until the state’s unemployment rate drops below 7 percent.

“On day one I will change the image the state of Georgia projects to the world,” said Poythress, adding that the state has ignored fundamental problems, and outsiders have witnessed that failure to act.

“What CEO is coming to a state that acknowledges we are running out of water in North Georgia?” asked Poythress, former assistant attorney general, deputy state revenue commissioner, secretary of state and state labor commissioner. “What CEO is coming to a state with these transportation problems? We need to project an image of being willing to find solutions.”

Valdosta High School educator and democratic candidate for governor, Carl Camon, has positioned himself as “the education governor” and says Georgians must be global thinkers and players and market Georgia to the world.

“I’ve always had a saying, ‘If you need it, Georgia’s got it,’” said Camon, listing the state’s coasts, military bases, institutes of higher education and agriculture among its assets.

Currently serving his fifth term as Ray City mayor, Camon says rural South Georgia has been forgotten for the past several decades. “We in South Georgia count just as much as the rest of the state. It’s time all voices of this great state are heard. I am working hard on behalf of real people.”

John Monds, the 44-year-old Libertarian candidate from Cairo, says more government is not the solution for Georgia. “I believe in the power of individuals to solve problems we face. We need a governor with a vision to get government out of the way and let the people solve our problems.”

Monds, currently a stay-at-home father, homeschooling his four children, previously worked for Lehman Brothers and spent a decade in the airline industry.

“Why not market Georgia to the world? We need to go to more than just China,” said Monds, who advocates abolishing corporate and individual income tax. “We need to create an economic playing field. That’s why tax reform is so important…If we let businesses do business, the economy will flourish.”

Also among those in attendance was Chuck Donovan, the Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate, opposing Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson. Donovan, an airline pilot for 23 years, contends that the “constitution is in exile” and the country is “in debt beyond human comprehension.”

“It’s the fallout of 150 years of monopolistic control of the so-called leadership of Democratic and Republican control,” said Donovan, who wishes not to make government more efficient, but rather smaller. Donovan said he has independently studied economics for some 20 years and is capable of making the types of decisions that need to be made.

Arriving late to the event, R.J. Hadley briefly addressed the group, saying “The race is about fighting for the people.” “In light of buyouts and various tax breaks, who is our government serving?” questioned Hadley, who believes good solutions should come from everywhere.

Albany resident Lee Ferrell, a republican candidate for U.S. Congress in Georgia’s 2nd District, said if he’s elected, he will work to instill the three basic principles of faith, family and freedom, adding that “Jesus Christ controls history.” Retired from the U.S. Air Force, Ferrell told attendees that the government cannot save them and that Americans have painted themselves into a corner and must get out of it.

Opponent Rick Allen, a Lee County republican, said he is concerned about the “European socialist agenda” the current administration is taking and believes we are fighting a losing battle with regard to illegal immigration. He also contends that the Department of Education is “not doing its job” and that there is “too much nonsense in our schools.”

Running against Ferrell and Allen is fellow republican candidate Mike Keown, who sent a representative to speak on his behalf. Secretary of state candidates David Chastain and Angela Moore, along with state superintendent of schools candidate Richard Woods, were also on hand to address their platforms.

GOP candidate for insurance commissioner, Harold Logsdon realizes it’s hard to get voters excited about the office for which he is running. “But the insurance commissioner’s office silently affects every person in Georgia every day,” said the BellSouth retiree and former licensed insurance agent, who served a term as Peachtree City mayor. His top concern is health care, followed by the millions of dollars fraud and arson cost Georgia taxpayers each year.

“I know how to manage taxpayer dollars,” Logsdon said. “Do you want somebody from the legislature who has been there passing laws we really don’t understand? Or a lobbyist or someone directly tied to the insurance agency?”

Also sending representatives on their behalf were Albany native Ken Hodges, running for Georgia attorney general, Kira Willis, a candidate for state school superintendent and secretary of state candidate Doug MacGinnitie.

Three Dougherty County School Board candidates participated in the forum, including current board member Milton “June Bug” Griffin and opponent Lynda Weaver. Vying for the seat being vacated by Michael Windom is retired educator Dean Phinazee, also in attendance.

Ewell Lyle, who is running to fill the Dougherty County Commission seat being vacated by incumbent Chuck Lingle, also participated at the event. Lyle, who was unaware until this week that the office is a partisan seat, says he will run as a republican, though he’d rather keep partisan politics out of the equation.

Qualifying is open until noon on April 30.