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Burns, Barrow debate at OTC

Congressional candidates discuss Iraq, minimum wage, farm issues

The two candidates vying to represent Georgia’s 12th Congressional District squared off at a forum Monday night discussing topics ranging from immigration and the war on terror to the minimum wage and agriculture issues.
    Incumbent John Barrow (D-Savannah) stressed his willingness to go against his own party if he needed to in order to best represent the district while Max Burns reminded voters that he was one of the most prolific freshmen members of Congress during his time in office during the forum, which at times, saw supporters for both candidates cheer and boo, depending on the comments made at the time.
    Both Burns and Barrow said the idea of having the military “cut and run” was a bad one and security in the region was critical to the security of the United States.
    “To abandon the fight ensures that our children and our grandchildren will have to face this issue,” Burns said.
     “We went into that country, we removed its administration, we fired its army and we fired its domestic security,” Barrow said. “We broke it, and I don’t believe we have the moral right to walk away from it.”
    Barrow went on to say that he thought the execution of the war was “terribly mismanaged” by the leaders in charge.
    During his rebuttal to Barrow, Burns citied his experience in the United States Army and questioned why Barrow would meet with peace activists if he was committed to the troops and the war on terror, drawing a mixture of applause and disdain from the audience.
    Barrow responded that it was part of his job as a Congressman to meet with people, even people he didn’t agree with.
    “It’s my business to meet with folks I disagree with. Shoot Max, I’m meeting with you tonight,” Barrow said, drawing applause from the audience.
    When the subject of the minimum wage was brought up, Burns said he thought it was important to take some time to study the minimum wage to implement it over time.
    “I think it’s time to work hard to make sure that America gets a minimum wage that makes sense for the economy but does not destroy the economy that has been growing,” Burns said.
    Barrow, meanwhile, said an increase in the minimum wage was something he campaigned on when he first ran for Congress and he still supports it.
    “Nothing sums up how politics is screwed up in Washington as the fact that Congress gets a cost of living adjustment automatically by doing nothing, but the working poor in the country have to get an Act of Congress just to get an inflation adjustment,” he said.
    Burns and Barrow also agreed that something needs to be done to eliminate this country’s dependence on foreign oil, saying agriculture holds the key to developing alternative energy sources.
    Barrow suggested using coal as “bridge-the-gap” technology as a way to lower the United States’ reliance on oil from other countries.
    Burns, meanwhile, proposed a 10-year energy initiative to get the country completely independent of foreign fuels, likening it to the space initiative in the 1960s in which President John F. Kennedy wanted to land a man on the moon within the decade.
    On the issue of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, Barrow said he thought the program was a good idea, but has been underfunded.
Burns, meanwhile, said he supported the act, saying “We have a need to ensure that every child in America receives a quality education regardless of their socio-economic background, regardless of their disabilities, regardless of their race or ethnicity,” he said.
The top issues affecting the district, according to Barrow, are health care and trade, while Burns said the top issues affecting the district were infrastructure and disaster relief for farmers in the area.
    The candidates also sparred on a number of other issues, including the “fair tax,” and several questions concerning agriculture issues and trade issues.
    The forum was sponsored by the Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce and moderated by WTOC news anchor Sonny Dixon.
    Burns was elected to Congress in 2002 and then was defeated by Barrow in the 2004 election. Neither candidate had opposition in their party’s primary this summer.
    The election is set for Tuesday, November 7.

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