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New Douglas state House district candidates talk taxes, education
by Savannah Weeks
June 27, 2012 12:56 PM | 1407 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Candidates for the new Georgia House District 66 seat representing Douglas and Paulding counties debated taxes, caps on lobbyist gifts and charter schools June 19 at a Paulding Chamber of Commerce Candidate Forum.

Republican candidate Bob Snelling said elimination of the state income tax would be the issue with the most impact on his constituents.

“States around us have already eliminated the income tax,” said Snelling, who served in the House from 1995 to 2003. “It is business-friendly, and the total number of taxpayers will be more.”

Fellow District 66 Republican candidate Mike Miller responded to Snelling by saying that eliminating the income tax was a “grand notion” but the state needed more immediate action.

Mickey Thompson, former Douglasville mayor and city council member, said the most important issue facing constituents in 2013 will be the economy and jobs.

Thompson, also a Republican, said the district needed to figure out how to position itself to be the front runner in attracting businesses to the area and how to effectively recruit those businesses.

Thompson mentioned that he hired Jamie Gilbert, the current executive director of Paulding Economic Development, for the Douglasville Development Authority when Thompson served with the city of Douglasville.

All present candidates — Democrat Kimberly Alexander was unable to attend — said they supported a $100 cap on lobbyist spending on state legislators.

“There shouldn’t be any lobby gifts at all,” said Thompson. “We should restrict ourselves.”

The candidates were asked whether they supported a charter school referendum which would allow the state to approve charter school applications if a local school district does not.

Mike Miller, a member of the Douglas County Board of Education, said he had been on the fence about the issue for a while.

“There is an inherent conflict of interest when boards make decisions,” Miller said.

Charter schools receive state funds just like public schools.

“We need to be careful, but we need alternatives,” he said.

Snelling said he fully supported the amendment because charter schools are a form of competition to public schools. He said he believes competition will make public schools better.

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