ELLIJAY, Ga – With the Georgia Primary finally set for June 9, the nine candidates for U.S. House of Representatives District Nine seat met for a Zoom debate.
The nine Republican candidates are State House District 8 Rep. Matt Gurtler, District 50 State Senator John Wilkinson, State House District Rep. 9 Kevin Tanner, property rights attorney Ethan Underwood, small business owner Kellie Weeks, small business owner Andrew Clyde, former law enforcement officer Maria Strickland, physician Paul Broun, and Constitutionalist Michael Boggus.
All candidates voiced their support for the big issues like Second Amendment Rights, supporting President Trump, limited government, and fiscal conservatism. However, Gurtler took the opportunity to call out fellow Georgia General Assembly members for their yearly budget votes.
“As one of the three elected officials in the State House and the Senate, I think it’s funny when I hear my opponents Tanner and Wilkinson say that they’re fiscally conservative, yet they vote for the budgets, which add a billion to 1.5 billion dollars every year to Georgians. I oppose those budgets every year and we also take one to one federal money, which adds to the national debt that’s something that I’ve been fighting for more transparency with HB4,” expounded Gurtler.
Wilkinson responded, “I’m proud of the state we live in. I’m proud to serve on the appropriations committee. I’m proud that I’ve been able to help the counties of Northeast Georgia during my service at the legislature I think that speaks for itself. When you have a triple-A bond rating, a balanced budget, and you’re the number one place in the nation to do business and a million more citizens than you did ten years ago, something must be going right and I’m proud to be part of that.
“I’m a Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, anti-federalist type politician. They believed in a limited role of the federal government. The states under the 10th amendment have certain responsibilities – transportation, education infrastructure, [and] other things are part of the [state’s] responsibility. I’m proud we have a balanced budget in Georgia, a triple-A bond rating, one of the few states in the country that does. I’m proud that Gov. Kemp continues to put forth a well-balanced, conservative budget. I’ve been proud to support that along with most every Republican in the House. We did have a few Democrats and one member of the panel who did vote against the budget.”
Gurtler called out their responses as “fake talking points” by Republicans, and he’s the only proven conservative in the race.
COVID-19 and State Bailouts
On the topic of COVID-19, everyone admitted the virus is real, but it’s time to safely get the country back to work.
“Certainly, the coronavirus is a health issue, not a government issue. In my opinion, Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx, and even Dr. Toomey in Georgia, they’re swamp creatures, and they have been able to accomplish what Comey, Clapper, Brennan, Strzok, and all those other people tried to do to take this president down, stated Broun. “We need to get this economy going. We need to let people be responsible for their own actions.”
“I would never diminish the fact that people are afraid,” said Tanner. “I have been surprised how quickly people are willing to give up their liberties for safety. I think that is a concern. I think we have small government overreach in many areas. I have been amazed at how well businesses have stepped up on their own.”
Many also denounced the first $2.2 trillion bill for government overreach and unnecessary spending. Gurtler said that “75 percent of the bill had nothing to do with the coronavirus.”
Wilkinson championed moving manufacturing back to the U.S. and making China accountable for some of the debt incurred by COVID-19.
Most were against a states bailout by the federal government, except Strickland.
She said, “I would think a limited amount of bailout would be appropriate to some of the states only because this a unique situation that no one expected to be getting into. Granted, the states some of them like New York, New Jersey that spent their money on illegal immigrants and all this other kind of thing. They didn’t prepare for the future. We do need to bailout some of them, but only a limited amount.”
“I think it’s fine if the states get a stimulus as long as it goes to people and the small businesses,” stated Boggus. “Small businesses [are] the backbone of this country. This stimulus should be pork-free unlike the last one and there shouldn’t be [any] ice cream bought by Nancy Pelosi.”
Underwood brought up the Federal Emergency Relief Act, which is available to all states to purchase medical equipment and relief.
“Are the states not going to tax us? Because it seems like every level of government thinks their money comes from somebody different, and it’s all coming from us. We all the taxpayers here,” explained Weeks. “We’re all just getting billed again and again and again.”
“Several states were in trouble before this started because of irresponsible decisions at the state level. Bailouts don’t work. Bailout bills are always filled with pork and actually reward bad decisions,” heralded Clyde. “We have a huge national debt and it would be irresponsible to add more to it. We need to get the people back to work.”
Hear detailed answers from all the candidates about the next COVID-19 package, contact tracing overreach, and defunding the World Health Organization, watch the debate here.
Turning to the ongoing saga of affordable healthcare for Americans, all candidates agreed that Obamacare should be repealed.
Underwood championed a private healthcare system that travels with people. It would no longer be tied to employers, which prevents many individuals in the gig-economy from accessing reasonably priced and effective healthcare plans. He added that preexisting conditions must be factored in when creating a new healthcare platform.
“Stand firm against socialized medicine,” said Gurtler. When Republicans controlled the House and Senate, they still couldn’t repeal Obamacare.
“People in our rural areas deserve good healthcare and the best way to do that is to get the federal government completely out of it,” Wilkinson stated.
Broun, who previously served in Congress and worked as a physician, presented his bill that would put doctors and nurses in charge of medical decisions. “All healthcare goods and services cheaper for everybody.”
“The only solution to health care is a free-market solution,” said Tanner. “The bigger underlying problem is the pharmaceutical companies have their hand in almost every Congressional race and Congressman in Washington. They’re controlling the drug prices. Gov. Kemp appointed me to chair the mental health reform commission last year. One of the biggest challenges we faced was the pharmaceutical companies and their desire not to have changes in our healthcare system.
To hear the candidates’ comments about President Trump, immigration, China, sanctuary cities, staying in touch with voters, and closing statements, check out the debate.
Opinion submitted by: Megan Joannides
I would like to say that I strongly believe we should not close Carter’s Lake and not ruin the natural beauty of this gem. Many people like myself takes family and friends to enjoy the peaceful scenery and get a peaceful mind of what is naturally created . This place allows us to give children a place to enjoy nature and the beauty of it. It allows children to understand the importance of this place and responsibilty instead of being stuck indoors. People profit for renting cabins so therefore their income is effected. People live out there to retire and call it home. There is so much good into Carter’s lake that I feel it will cost us more grief and hardships financially, emotionally and our well being if it closes. People fish, jet skiing, boat, swim, enjoy the sun, kihacking, hike and bike the trails for sportsmanship. People camp and celebrate birthday parties there. It gives hope for children and people to find confidence in enjoying healthy activities for this area. This is our home. Why take away our home based where we have nothing else to show for because I have seen over the years we have taken away our historical sites due to expanding our county that is not necessary needed. I understand money is the key for everything we do in our county but taking away something that gives us a bit of hope to enjoy one of the most unique precious gem of all time here in our county isn’t going to help the county nor people that come to visit or stay. So I am putting my vote in. Let’s save our home. Let’s save our gem and give back home to our community! Thank you all.
Opinion submitted by: Megan Joannides
ELLIJAY, Ga. – The story is continuing with Gilmer County’s pool as the debate received another change in the July Board of Commissioners meetings.
Questions arose to revisit the idea of a deeper area in the pool with a diving board for citizens and children use to jump into the pool. This idea was originally not at all a part of the plans for the pool as liability and insurance issues made each member of the board question the addition.
As such, until now, plans have never included the area, instead having an offset area with two slides set up for play. The offset area was, and still is, connected to the “competition pool,” the first pool to be put in during the construction project that is now almost certain to span years to ultimately achieve a full recreation center.
Concern was also raised about continued debates on designs and inclusions for the project. Commission Chairman Charlie Paris noted how late in the year we are without the county having even put out requests for bids. Paris is continuing to try to hold to his plans to meet a Memorial Day 2020 deadline or sometime soon after to open the basic pool for the public. Tempering the plans with cost concerns, Post Commissioner Dallas Miller continued the debate questioning exactly how much extra the addition would cost the county in building a diving well in addition to the slide area and the pool.
Plans have only inflated since the pools’ original design was released early last week. Citizens are continuing to debate, question, change, and increase plans for the pool despite many of them being against beginning construction of the pool this year.
Paris commented on the changes that citizens are requesting as he said in an earlier meeting he didn’t want to wind up spending millions of dollars on a pool “that doesn’t meet our needs.” Miller also said he would rather spend $4 million on the pool that people want even if it adds years to the completion time.
County Attorney David Clark offered an answer to the debate as the county is still early in the design phase. Clark suggested the county request bids for both options including and excluding the diving well.
The county is also holding fast to the $1.2 million budget for the pool for now as they march towards Memorial Day. Debate is starting to grow if the county will stay within the $1.2 million. Constantly being asked over and over again, Paris has simply repeated his statement saying that he wants to get everything he can for the pool for $1.2 million. He has taken several opportunities at several meetings and interviews to list the county’s priority of getting the main pool in with all the extra they can, but coming back in subsequent years for the other additions like a cover, a kids pool, a splash pad, and other items.
With designs set and citizens already speaking out on their plans, the county is already hearing and changing ideas. It seems the presentation of the design proposal has already doubled as the town hall meeting promised to citizens to consider design changes. Despite that, the county’s monthly meetings are also seeing comments and changes right up to the last minute before bids are received.
The U.S. Women’s National Team has been making headlines recently for victories as a team, and as individuals for political statements.
Last week, the team won their second back-to-back World Cup. Shortly after the game, player Allie Long was seen dropping an American flag during the post-game celebration. Her teammate Kelley O’Hara recognized the significance of a flag being dropped on the ground, and immediately scooped it up.
One report from The Daily Wire explained that Long dropped the flag to participate in a celebratory dance with teammate Megan Rapinoe. But the video quickly went viral and comments poured in criticizing Long for her carelessness and thanking O’Hara for stepping in.
It’s very possible that Long meant no disrespect, but just got caught up in the moment and didn’t know that an American flag is NEVER supposed to touch the ground. Nonetheless, millions of viewers were not happy.
If you watch the video, it doesn’t appear that Long is trying to make any sort of political statement by dropping the flag. However teammate Megan Rapinoe has CERTAINLY been making headlines recently for her statements.
Although Rapinoe is mainly known for being a phenomenal soccer player (she won both the Golden Ball and Golden Boot awards this year), her progressive ideals have, let’s just say…raised eyebrows. Rapinoe is very outspoken about her homosexuality and dislike of President Donald Trump. She has followed the example of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick by refusing to sing or put her hand over her heart during the National Anthem. The pose she makes after scoring a goal of standing with her arms outstretched is supposed to be a symbol of fighting for equal pay, race relations and issues at the United States/Mexican border.
For years athletes have used the attention given them for their athletic success as a means to shed light on their social platforms. There’s nothing wrong with that if they’re promoting awareness for a disease or a foundation that supports children with special needs. But should we as a society draw a line when it comes to political issues?
Some would say there’s no problem- depending on what they do to make the statement. Certainly being a famous athlete gives one more media attention than the average person. Like I mentioned in my last column post, there’s no difference in an athlete and an actor or actress, and they supply their endorsement all the time!
When Colin Kaepernick first kneeled during the National Anthem in 2016, many Americans were outraged. Not necessarily because of his protest of police brutality, but because he chose to do so in a way that many Americans found disrespectful to those who have served in the military. I was, and still am, one of those people. In my opinion Kaepernick and now Rapinoe are missing the mark. Kneeling or not showing respect during the National Anthem is to turn a blind eye to those who have sacrificed everything to give you the freedom to play your sport. It doesn’t have anything to do with first responders.
Nowadays there’s a gray area between sports segments and political talk shows. The two intersect on a daily basis. Just the other day on our live sports show, Instant Replay, my co-host Dave Garner and I had an entire segment dedicated to Nike’s decision to pull the sneakers with a design of the American flag sewn by Betsy Ross on the back. This decision was made after Kaepernick insisted that the flag had a racial history.
I suppose the whole reason this gray area exists is because of the technological advancements of the media. Celebrities who want use their status as a means to promote a certain viewpoint can do so more quickly because of how easy it is to post to Twitter. And in a society that demands news at every moment, something has to take up time in a sports show!
So back to the original question- should there be a line, and if so, where?
Here’s my opinion- sports is sports and politics is politics. Part of the reason I watch a football game or a baseball game is because I want to watch a football game or a baseball game. We are living in a time where politics are more divisive than ever before. One reasons sports are as big as they are today is because of the communities they create. Why should we mix something that causes so many problems to interfere with something that is supposed to help solve them?
When I turn on ESPN, I don’t want to listen to people debate over what is considered disrespectful to the National Anthem. And the next time I watch Fox News, I DARN sure don’t want to hear the name Colin Kaepernick.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-GA) spoke with Judy Woodruff on PBS NewsHour and Ari Shapiro on NPR’s All Things Considered about theSecure and Succeed Act, legislation he has co-sponsored that mirrors President Trump’s immigration framework which resolves DACA, strengthens border security, eliminates the visa lottery, and ends extended-family chain migration.
Click here to watch the PBS interview or click on the image below.
Growing Support: “We’ve had 30 years of debate on the immigration issue. Democrats and Republicans at various points in time actually supported the principles laid out by President Trump in this bill. There has actually been late-coming support for this proposal. Senator Alexander and Senator Isakson have endorsed this bill.”
President’s Support: “President Trump has endorsed this proposal. We’re hopeful others will see the framework the President laid out—and what we have in this bill—actually meets the needs the Democrats have been asking for.”
Ending Incentives: “Three or four of the principles President Trump is talking about have general agreement. There is room on both sides of the issue of family-based immigration for us to get the solution we are all looking for, to end the environment that incentivizes people to bring their young children here which created the DACA situation. This would also allow us to close loopholes that let terrorists use our immigration system against us.”
Common Solution: “President Trump has been very clear for a long time about his position. He wants a solution to the problem that caused the DACA situation and he wants the DACA situation resolved. He’s gone further than any Republican ever thought that he would. We support that and believe there is enough commonality in the Senate that if everyone looks at these different principles, we’ll be able to get to a common solution.”
Click here to listen to the NPR interview or click on the image below.
Permanent Solutions: “President Trump stepped in and said let’s resolve the DACA problem by giving these young people a pathway and certainty. He also said we don’t want to be back here in four or five years doing the same thing with another generation of people who were brought in illegally.”
Providing Certainty: “This is a very good solution for the DACA population. It also provides certainty for the future of our borders and fixes the archaic, 50-year old immigration system that has not served us economically or socially.”
Balanced Deal: “I’m an outsider, a business guy, and I’ve done big deals before. Deals that get done have to be symmetric. This deal is symmetric. When you look at the DACA solution and then a way to end the things that created it, this becomes a very balanced proposition.”
Getting Past Politics: “At different points in the past, Democrats and Republicans have agreed to each facet of our bill that’s before the Senate today. If Congress can put partisan politics aside, I think we’ve got a proposition that could get done. I think at the end of the day it will.”
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