1. Forsyth County has seen unprecedented growth over the past few years. What do you think is the biggest problem citizens face today, and how do you plan to work on it?
2. Are schools receiving enough funding and support at the state level? What concerns do you have with public education and how can you help?
3. Is the state giving away too much in incentives to lure business? What is the best approach to remain business-friendly without giving away the farm?
U.S. Rep. 7th Congressional District
Rob Woodall (R) (I):
Question 1: Traffic affects our economy and quality of life every day, and I’ve worked with our federal partners and our really outstanding locally elected officials to invest billions in new lanes and new technology that will reduce congestion and improve reliability, including $184 million for the Ga. 400 improvements that are in progress. I’ve also worked to cut red tape and federal taxes which will allow our local leaders to make a bigger difference for our community even faster.
Question 2: Georgia should run Georgia’s schools, not Washington. My responsibility is to support our local education community, not tell them what to do. That’s why I voted to empower our local officials and parents in the biggest shift of federal-to-state education control in my lifetime in the Every Student Succeeds Act. We’ve also invested millions of new dollars to protect our kids while they’re at school and improved apprenticeship and workforce development programs that will prepare students to succeed in the 21st century economy.
Question 3: I’m proud of Georgia’s track record as the No. 1 state to do business, and our low tax, business-friendly environment often sells itself. That said, when our governor can negotiate a great deal to bring good-paying jobs home to Georgia, I’m for it. My job is to keep our taxes low and empower job creators to innovate, hire, invest and expand without being overburdened by Washington bureaucrats.
Carolyn Bourdeaux (D):
Question 1: As I speak with folks throughout Forsyth, their biggest concern is health care. We must fix the Affordable Care Act and introduce a public option to help lower costs for families and small businesses. I believe every man, woman and child deserves access to quality, affordable health care.
Question 2: No, and schools are not getting enough funding at the national level either. I have a deep-rooted respect for our education system, and we must invest more in our schools and teachers so every child has a world-class public education.
Question 3: The federal government needs to make sure it uses public funds wisely while making investments in infrastructure to reduce traffic, improving the education of the workforce, and helping reduce business costs such as the cost of health care.
U.S. Rep. 9th Congressional District
Doug Collins (R) (I):
*Rep. Doug Collins did not answer the questions in time for print.
Josh McCall (D):
Question 1: The biggest problem with the growth of prosperity in America over the past four decades has been that it has been unequal and imbalanced. Our economy is growing very fast at the top, while working people must resort to longer hours, worse healthcare and more debt to survive. This is not a sustainable economic model. We must see hard work as an investment in our future and a stabilizing force in our culture; to do this, we must value labor by guaranteeing a good day’s pay for every workday and by investing in infrastructure to train young Americans to work with their hands in honorable trades.
Question 2: I am running at the federal level, but we must address education shortfalls across our nation. According to U.S. News and World Report, Georgia has the nation’s 14th best economy and 37th best education system. We are as a country at the very top of the world’s scale of wealth, yet we fall behind other wealthy nations in education. We need to invest in young people and in older people who have to adjust to an ever more rapidly changing economy by offering education as a public utility, tuition free.
Question 3: It has been disheartening to see states scrambling for multinational corporations to move their operations to our state, especially since companies like Amazon have been responsible for the death of manufacturing in America, relying on low-wage Chinese workers in deplorable working conditions. Being a corporation in America is a privilege of historic proportions, as companies like Apple are sitting on historically enormous cash reserves. Our state does not need to offer them welfare for the privilege of being here.
Greg Dolezal (R):
Question 1: Overdevelopment has caused a number of problems, such as crowded roads and schools as infrastructure struggled to keep up. From a state level, I would like to fast track funding for fast growing counties like Forsyth to allow them to build schools as we see the need arrive versus the current model which is reactionary. For traffic congestion, we need to look into widening our state roads, seek out innovative solutions for congestion relief, encourage off peak travel for truck transport, and begin to prepare for next generation transit solutions.
Question 2: I’m happy to see that under Republican leadership, Georgia has fully funded the QBE (Quality Basic Education) formula for the first time ever. My other concerns for public education have to do with having a top-down, heavy-handed set of rules from Washington D.C. (Common Core). I want to ensure we have Georgia standards for Georgia schools which empower teachers and parents to partner for students’ success.
Question 3: Georgia has a lot of momentum right now, and we have a lot to offer businesses of all sizes. The role of government is to create a level playing field so all entrepreneurs and business leaders have an environment in which they can compete. Lowering taxes across the board and maintaining a fiscally conservative state government is the best way to attract investment in our state.
Steve Smith (D):
Question 1: Unfortunately we are pricing many of our neighbors out of Forsyth, and that must stop. We cannot sustain a healthy community when our teachers, law enforcement, service workers and elderly on fixed incomes cannot afford to live here. We need more affordable housing options in Forsyth County.
Question 2: We have been funding our schools based on a formula from the 1980s. We must update the state QBE (Quality Basic Education) funding formula to adequately fund our schools.
Question 3: We need to consider the long term needs and goals of our community first and foremost when considering incentives for luring business and stop selling off our county to the highest bidding developer.
State Representative 22nd District
Wes Cantrell (R) (I):
Question 1: Transportation is clearly the biggest issue. We will continue to provide sufficient funding for needed projects, and my office will continue to serve as a point of connection between GDOT, county commissioners and Forsyth County residents. This issue is primarily addressed locally through budgeting priorities. I can continue to make sure funds are prioritized for this at the state level.
Question 2: Republican leadership fully funded public schools in Georgia for the first time in history this year. If funding is still an issue, then the funding formula needs to be examined and updated. Parents need options for children who are not reaching their full potential in traditional public schools. Providing options will save the state and local communities money over the long haul so that even more funding is available. I am in favor of fully funding education while at the same time providing options for parents so that all children in Georgia are getting the education they need.
Question 3: Short answer: In some cases, yes. I am in favor of producing the best business friendly economic environment that we can. However, the government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers by showing favoritism to certain companies or industries. If the incentive is good for one, then it should be good for all. The best approach is across the board tax cuts and regulation cuts.
Question 1: I think the biggest problem is infrastructure. There isn’t any kind of mass transit or even road expansion to deal with the increase in population. The main thing I would work to get mass transit to the county so people would be able to commute easier.
Question 2: No, schools are not funded or supported enough by the state. Our schools’ funding formula needs to be updated from 1985. I also have a personal project I would like to see, and that is to have a statewide vocational curriculum to offer students an alternative if college is not right for them.
Question 3: I’m not for sure if they are giving out too many incentives but I do know I really don’t like this new “Hunger Games” style of states competing for companies to set up shop. I think incentives are fine as long as it still benefits Georgians, something to effect that you get so much in tax incentives if you hire “x” amount people who have been living in Georgia. Also, things like community outreach programs for incentives would be fine too. The point should be to make the companies feel like they have a vested interest in the success of the state, not just a layover to take resources.
State Representative 25th District
Todd Jones (R) (I):
Question 1: From a state-level, it would be representation and brand. To the former, the question must be asked, can five part-time commissioners with no elected chairman continue to lead a county of 225,000 people and soon to be 300,000? To the latter, the south end of the county is struggling with an identity. We must initiate a comprehensive plan to address this or risk falling back to surrounding and competing areas.
Question 2: We fully funded QBE (Quality Basic Education) this fiscal year, the first time in more than 30 years. However, we have to acknowledge that K-12 success and funding are not always directly correlated. Today, in the U.S. alone we spend nearly $1 trillion annually on K-12, yet there have not been measurable learning gains in decades. We must solve the birth to 4-years-old challenge. A child’s trajectory should not be pre-determined by the academic attainments of the parents; which unfortunately is the case many times. We must also address access. Children in the rural and mountain parts of our state aren’t afforded the opportunity to learn calculus, physics and other subject matters. Different learning modalities like online, hybrid and others must be leveraged so each child in Georgia has the same opportunities, regardless of place of birth.
Question 3: I have traditionally voted against many of the higher profile tax incentive bills; the data center bill being one of the most prominent. Our challenge as a legislator must be to create an even playing field then step aside and permit the free market to work. A bill that gives one side a pronounced advantage over another via tax incentives is fundamentally flawed. We will remain the number state to do business in if we figuratively create the floor of the Roman Coliseum and allow the start-ups, small and medium-sized business, and Fortune 500s to execute against their business plan without over-burdensome regulations.
Question 1: Most residents of Forsyth County would agree that overcrowding is a major problem. A more efficient use of resources is using innovative solutions such as “smart lights” to resolve traffic congestion and creative scheduling for overcrowded schools
Question 2: Public education in Georgia has been underfunded for over a decade. I will make it a priority to redesign the formula used to distribute state public school funds. The new funding calculation must define how austerity cuts are determined. Safety in schools is a concern I will focus on if elected.
Question 3: Georgia is the 48th best state for employees according to a recent OxFam study. By creating an environment where employees are healthier and better educated Georgia will attract companies that value and reward them, which will allow their children to be healthier and better educated. A strong middle class equals a healthy economy.