Thursday night Speaker David Ralston and challenger Sam Snider met for the second time this week at a Fannin County Chamber of Commerce forum. Early in the week the two squared off at a forum in Dawsonville.
Watch video below.
Ralston opened in front of a hometown crowd saying he was proud of cutting spending, downsizing government and creating a climate to create jobs. He said he did not see being Speaker of the House as an honor for himself but an honor for the District. He has been voted Speaker three times. Ralston said he was optimistic about the future of Georgia and our best days were ahead of us. He closed his opening statement by saying he was not bitter or angry.
Tuesday night in Dawson County Ralston said he never heard what his opponent would do if elected, only criticism, so Snider opened by introducing his plan. Snider told the audience that he would hold a town hall meeting in all three counties 30 days before a Legislative Session to get in touch with what the people of the District felt was important. Sixty days before session he would meet with each county's Board of Commissioners. Half way through the session he would hold a town hall meeting to give an update on the session. He said he would keep a daily journal on the session and hold another town hall meeting after the session was over to give a report of the outcome. Snider said he would attend a Board of Commissioner’s meeting once a quarter.
When asked, “when elected what would be the first thing you would do,” Ralston said he would do something to honor the life of Ronald Newton. He went on to say that he would continue to work on a climate where jobs can be created, stating that 235,000 jobs have been created while eliminating 12,000 government jobs and that Georgia was named the number one state to do business. Snider answered that tort reform and more funds for ethics reviews would be a top priority.
Snider went after Ralston on continuing to increase spending stating that the budget has gone from $18 billion to $20 billion. Ralston responded by saying the budget has just now returned to the 2007 level and $980 million has been added back for education. Ralston said that he was probably the only candidate who gave his opponent a raise, Snider is a teacher.
Snider came back at Ralston over what is being called the $17 million Atlanta Falcons parking garage and $33 million to help the Falcons build a new stadium. Ralston responded by explaining that it was not a parking garage for the Falcons and that the Falcons would use it less than 4% of the time. The garage was for the growing economic attractions in the area such as the National College Football Hall of Fame that Georgia took away from Canton, Ohio. It will also serve the National Civil Rights museum that people would come from all over the world to visit, and would also serve the growth of the World Congress Center. As for the $33M, Ralston says zero dollars came from the State; it all came from the City of Atlanta. Snider responded to Ralston’s explanation by saying we all have been to a sporting event in Atlanta and paid the ten to fifteen dollars for parking. Let private business do this.
Ralston then took the opportunity to make the announcement that the University of North Georgia will be locating a satellite campus in Blue Ridge. The campus was to be located in Blairsville.
Snider said he wants to represent the 7th District, not be a career politician. Ralston responded that if Snider got elected in a day or two he would then be considered a career politician. Snider gave his definition of a career politician as someone who looks to who gave him money before voting what's best for Atlanta.
Obviously Ralston supporters say he won and Snider supporters feel he won. I spoke to four Ralston supporters and asked how they felt Snider did against Ralston. Three said Snider held his own against Ralston. If Snider held his own on Ralston’s home turf one may say he won. Snider’s campaign is building momentum but winning one wrestling meet is a long way from winning the state title. Snider is still a long shot to defeat Ralston especially when your opponent has the money to put a new mailer in your post box almost every day.