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Candidates for Dist. 28 seat answer questions

The time for voters in Senate Dist. 28 to have their say is fast approaching. And leading up to the Dec. 6 vote The Citizen thought it would be good if voters could hear from the two candidates vying for the seat previously held by Mitch Seabaugh. Candidates Duke Blackburn (R) and Mike Crane (R) were the top vote-getters in the Nov. 8 special election. Both responded to three general questions pertaining to the qualities they possess, their suggestions on the economy and their take on the federal government’s interaction with the states.

The first question noted that everyone knows that state politics can be cut-throat, territorial and one where compromise on and off the record is the order of the day. That said, what qualities do you bring to the job that will help you best represent the district?

-Blackburn - I am retired from over 20 years in state law enforcement. During this time each of us assigned to the U.S. Marshal Fugitive Task Force worked as a team in most situations, however many times each of us had to rely on negotiation skills to help bring volatile situations to a peaceful conclusion. The skills that I developed during my time serving and protecting the citizens of Georgia will serve as a foundation in dealing with others when I am elected state Senator. While serving the Georgia Dept. of Corrections (GDC), we cut our state budget drastically by using inmate labor to build additional bed space needed to house an ever-increasing prison population.

The GDC is one of the largest agencies in the state. I was also over Internal Affairs or Professional Standards, which oversaw the training and conduct of some 14,000 employees and all investigations dealing with some 45,000 inmates. In each and every situation I always used truth and honesty as the foundation of my division. On the other hand my early experience working for a Fortune 500 company gives me the real life experience to complete anything I undertake with the basic conservative values to use levelheadedness in making sound decisions.

I will stand for what is right and will not be intimidated by anyone.

-Crane - Business, like politics, can be a difficult environment to thrive in. There are often conflicting priorities set against a backdrop of limited funding that makes solutions seem difficult. It is the combination of having good ideas, the ability to communicate them and put them into action, and getting others to get on board that enables one to be successful and produce great results.

For too long, our state government has been beset by the politics of fighting over a bigger piece of the budget pie. People who work in the public sector, whether in education, law enforcement or any other branch of government, have a singular focus on getting more money from the taxpayers to spend in their department or on their pet projects. While this mindset is understandable, it is not a mindset that serves taxpayers well when such people, and those habits, are taken to the legislature. On the other hand, a business-oriented mindset seeks to expand the budget pie by creating growth and economic prosperity. A business approach to government sees efficiency as the goal, with the best outcome produced at the lowest cost. There is a stark contrast between these approaches and the kind of government that is created by each.

As a business owner for nearly 20 years, my continued success in the challenging construction industry clearly demonstrates the skill set I will bring to the Senate. While many enter the business or political arena with the cut-throat or compromise mentality, I have always approached challenges with the knowledge that excellence inspires followers and integrity produces strong relationships. My positive attitude combined with a tried and proven business career will serve the district and state well.

Another question posed to the candidates noted that when we look around Coweta County, Dist. 28, the region and the state it is clear that the main issue facing all these areas is the economy. Everyone knows the reality and no one expects the candidates to have the magic bullet up their sleeve. That said, give the voters a few ideas on how Georgia (and your region) might address the continuously sluggish economy.

-Crane - For growth and economic prosperity to return to Georgia, we must position ourselves as the most attractive state in the nation to do business. We can do this on several levels.

First, we must have the most efficient form of governance in the nation. That means we must be the most cost effective government body anywhere. This is accomplished by eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse; limiting the role of government in our daily lives; and limiting regulations to those that balance the concerns of our environment, our people, and our businesses. An efficient government also means the lowest tax burden possible.

Second, our healthcare and education systems must be second to none. With the introduction of competitive forces into the healthcare and education markets, we can drive down the cost, expand choices and availability, and improve outcomes.

In addition, we must have the resources and transportation systems in place to attract long-term business commitments to our state. From clean and abundant water and power, to efficient transportation and fuel supply lines, with proper planning and energetic implementation (not just talk), we can prepare the way for a strong and growing Georgia.

-Blackburn - Unnecessary regulations and burdensome taxes must be removed from new business and industry trying to establish in Georgia. The business and industries already operating in Georgia must have these regulations lifted in order for them to expand. Many of the permits and processes businesses must endure are often duplicate and burdensome.

We need a full audit on the state’s regulations and try to cut as much red tape as we possibly can. Good quality educated and technically-trained work forces must be available for hire. Finally, pushing back on the federal government’s hundred thousand pages of taxes and regulations is in order. The top down mentality that Washington knows best must be stopped. Given the right environment, we can turn the corner on this Obama economy.

A third question took a broader approach, asking the candidates if they believe that the federal government is acting appropriately or inappropriately towards the states. Candidates were free to address any areas they chose.

-Blackburn - The federal government is not and has not dealt with illegal immigration as most of us would like. Georgia is over-run with a large amount of illegal immigrant criminals. Just last week the Georgia Prison System was able to turn over 1,900 inmates to INS to be deported. This is a small relief to the Georgia Taxpayer whose tax dollars support these criminals while incarcerated in Georgia Prisons.

The federal government must stop the flow of illegal immigrants at the border. It is like a plumber fixing a busted pipe - the water must cut off before the repair can be made.

 As our troops begin to return from Iraq and Afghanistan, the various National Guard troops currently deployed can be locally assigned on a rotating basis in the border states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

The Guard units can be deployed on a rotating basis as their normal mandated drill weekend and during their two-week summer camp. This can be done at no additional cost to the taxpayer.

Georgia National Guard troops can be utilized again on the required drill weekend and the two week summer camp to help enhance state troopers and other law enforcement in the interdiction of illegal immigrants, narcotics and large amounts of drug money.

Assets from these seizures can be used to fund anything from road projects to school construction.

-Crane - Our federal system is supposed to be one of divided powers between the states and the national government. Article I of the Constitution clearly defines the enumerated powers of the Congress. However, over the years the Supreme Court has neglected its duty to restrain Congress, allowing the federal government to reach far beyond its intended boundaries. The Supreme Court has ignored the 10th Amendment which explicitly limits the powers of the federal government. Much of what the federal government gets involved with is not found anywhere in the Constitution.

Education, healthcare, and numerous other issues are properly handled by state and local government. Georgia knows how to educate Georgia’s children better than bureaucrats in Washington. The ongoing federal involvement with our education system drives up costs and pushes down results. Healthcare can be vastly improved with lower costs, greater availability, and better results without an endless list of mandates from the federal level.

Ironically, the federal government has failed miserably in its most basic constitutional mandate to “provide for the common defense.” For decades, the federal government has refused to defend our borders and allowed millions of people to enter our country illegally. They have thrust the costs and security risks of this massive failure onto the states, while challenging any attempt we make at solving the problem. The states must stand unified in demanding that the federal government secure our borders, enforce our immigration laws, and create a working solution that respects the rule of law in our nation.

As your Senator, I will fight for Georgia’s sovereignty and financial solvency. I will fight for local control of issues that should be decided here, at the state and local level. And I will continue, without fail, to secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and for future generations.

The runoff election between Crane and Blackburn will be held Dec. 6.

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