I don’t usually weigh in with political endorsements, but in the race for the state Senate District 21 race, Brandon Beach is the choice for me.
Beach has shown he is a doer not a talker. As the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, he gets things done, things that need doing. He has constant energy and many contacts who listen when he talks.
I’ll just point out a few things Beach and the Chamber of Commerce accomplished under his watch:
** Beach was part of the team that secured the attention of the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation and secured the $28 million private investment that became Encore Park and Verizon Amphitheater. A $2 million public sector investment seemed moribund until Beach made contact with the Woodruff Foundation and the Atlanta Symphony.
- The North Fulton Community Improvement District exists because Beach and the chamber convinced many large commercial property owners to contribute a higher property tax on themselves to leverage their collective funds to improve mobility and beautify the roadways.
- When the long-awaited Westside Parkway had the final right of way secured to create a mirror of North Point Parkway on the west side of Ga. 400, the project was $500,000 short in its estimates. Beach used his contacts on the Georgia Transportation Board to find the money from past projects that were under budget and secured the money to finish the road.
- Beach, working through the chamber, secured a jurisdictional change in the state Board of Education that allowed Gwinnett Technical College to come into North Fulton with a new campus. The $25 million, 500,000-square-foot campus will be a job magnet for North Fulton attracting and keeping companies hungry for skilled workers.
Beach has other practical initiatives he started to help create jobs in the area. He has done much to unify economic development efforts to create one solid front to prospective business relocations. And he helped create opportunity zones in which the state gives tax credits to businesses that create new jobs within those distressed zones.
His opponent Chip Rogers is a 10-year veteran of the state legislature, and in his last term, was made Senate majority leader by his peers. Nevertheless, I am disturbed that what he says and what he does is not always a match.
Rogers claims to be a rock-ribbed conservative and the taxpayer’s best friend. Slogans are nice, but it’s what he does that bothers me. He still points with pride to his support of former House Speaker Glenn Richardson's controversial tax plan to fund public schools with revenues from sales taxes and not from property taxes.
What that would have done was give all budgetary control of our schools to the Legislature because it would have had the power to divvy up the sales tax. The result would have been the most centralized state government in the country, because, as we well know, those who control the purse strings control all.
Maybe he thinks people don’t remember that far back, but I do.
Most disturbing is Rogers’ support of state chartered schools. And he has no problem with for-profit companies operating them. Any way you approach it, state chartered schools will have to slice off state school funding, and that means local boards of education (all of us) will have to fund them. But the local boards will not have any say in their approval. The state will be taking on that “burden.”
Half the budget is spent on education, and there is no “low hanging fruit” in other state programs to miraculously fund the charters. These charter schools siphon thousands of dollars per student to for-profit schools from local school budgets.
This is what Rogers calls “parental choice.” Once again Rogers supports garnering power to the state at the expense of local control. Let charter schools pass local muster and live up to local community standards.
State-chartered schools are not bedrock conservatism to me. This is big government control of the worst kind.
Today, Rogers is opposed to the TSPLOST, which Beach supports. Today, Rogers says it is a bad plan. Back when he voted for the TSPLOST initiative, he was a member of the non-voting TSPLOST committee that drew up the projects list, yet he never attended a meeting. Where was his leadership then? He says he will have a better plan in two years. Why not now?
Character issues have surfaced that are troubling as well. For 10 years Rogers supported himself as a television sports tout offering his “winning” football picks. Rogers says now he was never a bookie or a tout, just an actor hired to play the part of a tout.
Then Rogers got involved in a real estate deal to buy and renovate a small hotel. As the newspapers noted, it ended in foreclosure. Now a lot of real estate deals have ended in foreclosure in recent years. And the local bank that made the interest-only loan went under too.
But do you remember Rogers’ stint as a shill for 1-900 sports books? His boss was John Edens. Edens, by now a convicted felon and in need of a job, was brought in to manage the hotel which catered to extended-stay guests, i.e., that’s where they lived.
Then at some point, Rogers and his partner sold the hotel and walked away. In court, a new bank – the one making the original loan now in receivership – sued to recover the money.
Rogers argued that he no longer owned the hotel and should not be dunned for the debt. Who did Rogers sell the hotel to, for a reported $10,000? Why his good friend Edens, who originally was given the job as manager.
Nothing in this deal passes the smell test. Nor do state-chartered schools pass the smell test. As “Deep Throat” said in “All the President’s Men,” follow the money.
Brandon Beach is hard-working, honest, conservative and a problem-solver. Between the two candidates I am completely confidant that North Fulton will benefit most by his election. He has represented us well and effectively already, and his election to the state senate will allow him to do even more for our region.