On Saturday morning, 22 politicians from across the state gathered in the Sea Island Bank parking lot to give their “stump speeches” to a very large crowd that was seeking not only food for their bodies but food for thought of a political nature.
The event was being staged by the 2010 Leadership Bulloch's Kevin Judy. He said that after Peggy Chapman from the Chamber of Commerce approached them about sponsoring this event, everybody agreed it would be a great idea. The candidates are seeking to be elected to office for everything from governor and U.S. Senator and Congressman all the way down the ballot to the offices of Public Service Commissioner and Georgia Court of Appeals.
State Senator Jack Hill welcomed the crowd, stating that he felt the number of people indicated that only are people in Georgia’s Twelfth District concerned with the way things are being run at the state and local level, but they are willing to get involved in the political process to set things right.
The incumbent Lieutenant Governor, Republican candidate Casey Cagle, spoke next. He told the audience that he would fight to improve the state’s educational system, and work to bring more businesses to Georgia.
Cagle said Georgia is in an economic downturn and must cut the budget to do so. He said he is prioritizing the budget to focus on education, public safety, and taking of the old and infirm. He said many extras have had to be cut as they were not essential to the operation of the government.
When his challenger, Democratic candidate Gail Porter, got her chance to speak she challenged most of Cagle’s assertions. Porter said that Cagle was symptomatic of most career politicians, whom she asserted would say one thing and then do the exact opposite.
Porter said we need to train our high school students to “either earn or learn.” They should either be prepared to enter the labor force or continue with their education at an institution of higher education such as Georgia Southern University when they graduate. Right now, a goodly number of graduates can do neither.
After Porter spoke, the school nurse at Bulloch County’ Charter Conservatory for the Liberal Arts and technology approached Porter and said although she was a lifelong Republican she was going to vote for her, probably the only Democrat she would ever vote for in her life..
Asked why, she said Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s failure to support the “Homestead Exemption Tax” was going to cost her a fortune that she could not afford as she prepared to retire. She also said she liked Porter’s ideas on fixing our public education system.
As former Governor and Democratic candidate Roy Barnes mounted the podium, he told those in attendance that he believed that attendance at such an event should be required of anyone who expected to vote, so that they could listen and compare what each office’s candidates planned to do if elected.
Barnes said his campaign is focusing on jobs. He said there are things we can do to make sure Georgia regains its economic footings. The first thing, he said, is to make sure Georgia’s needs are being provided by Georgia companies. He gave the instance of renewing his Georgia hunting license through a company located in Missouri.
Unfortunately, his opponent, Republican candidate Nathan Deal was up in Sandersville at his high school’s fiftieth anniversary reunion and was not able to attend. Local resident June DiPolito said that after listening to Governor Barnes, she still felt that she still felt he had abandoned Georgia’s system of public health care, particularly at the end of his last administration.
Another local resident, Pat Gillis, who serves on the Executive Committee of the Democratic Party, disagreed. She said Barnes’s idea to use Georgia companies to fulfill Georgia contracts was right on the button. Her friend, Martha Fay Daly, said Barnes’ ads are too glitzy for her, and added that he looks much better in person.
The next speaker was Republican candidate for the Twelfth District Congressional seat currently held by John Barrow, Ray McKinney. McKinney said that Thomas Jefferson once said that “America is ruled by the majority that participates” and thanked all of those who came for being part of this event.
McKinney said he entered the race because he saw that our politicians up in Washington are totally out of control, and someone needs to stand up for good old common sense. He said Barrow voted to bail out the car manufacturers and the banks. While Barrow voted against the new public health care bill two minutes after the bill had gotten enough votes to pass, he said, the truth is that it was Barrow’s committee that created the bill.
The same committee Barrow was on also created the “Cap and Trade Bill” that is being vilified throughout the nation. Although Barrow represents a district in which nineteen out of twenty-two are largely agricultural, McKinney said Barrow actually volunteered to step down from the Agricultural Committee, on which he could have done our district the most good.
Barrow, originally intending to come, pulled out shortly before the event. Judy, who works for the Bulloch County Board of Education, said Bulloch County School Superintendent Lewis Holloway had been very supportive of his participation on this project. In fact, the school system has partnered in hosting a number of political debates over the last several months at the new Statesboro High School.