The event at Chattahoochee Technical College’s Dallas campus featured candidates in contested party primaries in the May 20 election for two seats in the Georgia General Assembly and three seats on the Paulding County Commission.
The sharpest divisions came in the county races on the issues of commercialization of Paulding’s airport and how to better inject transparency into industrial recruitment efforts.
Commission Post 2 Democratic candidate George “Pat” Hughes said Silver Comet Field is an asset Paulding needs to exploit because of the airport’s potential for increasing the employment base.
County officials signed a controversial contract with a company to recruit a passenger airline and did not make it public for more than a year. However, Paulding, despite some public opposition, has to honor the contract because it is legally bound, Hughes said.
“We need to just do it,” he said.
Opponent Patti Smith said the potential of commercial traffic harming Post 2 residents’ property values was too great to ignore.
On the issue of transparency in negotiations, commission Post 3 Republican candidate Vernon Collett said residents need to be told about a major project possibly coming to an area if it has the potential to “turn people’s lives upside down.”
Post 3 opponent Herb Haynes said a balance needs to be found between negotiating and informing the public. Richard Manous said Paulding residents need to “pull together” and appreciate county officials’ efforts to recruit new employers.
“There’s too much fighting among ourselves,” he said.
In the state races, House District 17 Republican candidates David Bond and incumbent Rep. Howard Maxwell, R-Dallas, discussed the best ways to increase state funding of roads.
Event moderator Terry Lawler, director of the Regional Business Coalition of Metro Atlanta, said Georgia was near the bottom nationally in per capita investment in transportation infrastructure. Maxwell said residents need to decide how much they want to pay to improve the state road system in Paulding.
“It’s going to be a tough answer. It’s going to cost money,” Maxwell said.
Bond said the issue was difficult because more investment is needed in roads before the tax base can increase and provide needed funding.
The two Republican candidates for Senate District 30 agreed on the need to eliminate the controversial Common Core standards in Georgia schools.
Incumbent State Sen. Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton, said each community educates its students differently. Challenger Bill Hembree of Winston, a longtime state House member, said a national curriculum is not needed in Georgia.
“Washington does not understand what’s happening in Georgia,” he said.