Recently, The Columbia County News-Times sat down with candidates appearing on Tuesday’s primary ballot and asked them not only about their platforms and positions, but their views on public service.
The results provide a snapshot of what they are running for, but why.
Vital statistics: Married; two children. Hasty has practiced law for 21 years, most recently as a public defender.
Top issue: Changing the policy of the court regarding associate magistrates representing clients served by the court.
On public service: “I have always tried to interject myself into the community. I’ve done it through coaching, through the PTO and my church. I just want to be a servant for this community.”
On experience: “I have been appearing in the magistrate court for 21 years, here in Columbia County and around the state. Sitting on the bench is not the only way you can gain experience.”
Vital statistics: Married; one child. Hudson practices civil law in Columbia County.
Top issue: Tougher sentencing for repeat offenders
On the court: “This court is the gatekeeper. For that reason, it’s important to foster a healthy ongoing relationship with law enforcement. The two really work hand-in-hand.”
On experience: “It’s true that the other candidates have been doing this longer, but I believe my strength is my focus on civil law. ”
On politics: “You can’t be a politician and you can’t play games with voters. I want to become a judge, and a judge needs to be trusted.”
Vital statistics: Married; three children. Troiano is the current associate magistrate in Columbia County
Top issue: Making the court more user-friendly
On the Magistrate Court as a resource: “This is, in fact, a people’s court. We are the front line of the local legal system.”
On training on the job: “I have been on the job since 2009. I know what it takes to be a good chief magistrate. That experience is worth a lot.”
On Columbia County: “I never wanted to go to a big city. I wanted to stay here, close to my family and close to my roots. I had a wonderful childhood and I want the same for my kids.”
School Board District 1
Vital statistics: Married; two children. Chase has been a daycare director, PTSO and PTO president and substitute teacher.
Top issue: Communi-cation between the school board and parents
On running for the school board: “I’m doing this for one reason: I’m doing it for the kids.”
On her credentials: “I’ve been in education, in one way or another, since I was 20 years old. I really just wanted to take the knowledge I have acquired and not only broaden my own horizons, but also offer the benefit of my experience.”
On her goals: “People – parents – have questions. I want to be the person that can supply the answers.”
Vital statistics: Married; five children. Dekle is an attorney with his own litigation practice in Columbia County.
Top issue: Maintaining and strengthening what he sees as an already strong school system
Early influences: “I grew up in Louisville, in a pretty rural school system, and what I remember is the people that helped me. Those people, those teachers and administrators, that were committed to education.”
On the influence of his children: “I’m not sure I would put myself in this position if I did not have children. There are other avenues for public service. But because I do have children, this, right now, is the most important to me.”
Vital statistics: Married; six children. Slowinski is a homeschool and GED program teacher. He is the former chairman of the Columbia County Republican Party
Top issue: Ensuring budget deficits do not affect education
On running: “We are all affected by public service decisions every day. And as a father of six, that includes decisions made about our school system. It seemed like an obvious place for me.”
On strong foundations: “Ensuring every student graduates needs to be a goal. Financial stability needs to be goal. Certainly making sure teaching positions are not cut and that those teaching positions are attractive needs to be a goal. It’s about ensuring that foundation is strong.”
On financial responsibility: “This job is not about finding more money. It’s about learning to succeed with the resources we have.”
School Board District 4
Vital statistics: Fisher retired after 21 years from the Army Medical command and served as director of a workforce training program, a mentor at the Fort Gordon Youth Challenge Academy and teaches health sciences at three universities.
Top issue: Preparing students for the demands of a global society.
On public service: “I like to make a difference in the lives of people. I’m an educator and I understand that education is what empowers us. To make change we need new ideas and a new perspective.”
On transparency: “It is my belief that the board should be approachable. The community is who work for. If we aren’t serving the community, we aren’t doing our job. ”
Vital statistics: A medical laboratory technician for the Department of Corrections, Strickland retired from the Army and previously worked as a bus driver for the Columbia County School System.
Top issue: Increased school board transparency
On remaining independent: “I have not taken any contributions. I don’t want to owe anyone anything.”
On teaching in the digital age: “You can’t lay off experienced teachers and expect success. Technology isn’t the answer. It’s just a tool. Without the teachers that can use it, it’s a waste.”
On contributing to the community: “I’m retired. I’m at a point where I feel like I’m ready to give back.”
Vital statistics: Married; three children. Whitaker is a registered nurse and the incumbent.
Top issue: Recognizing the accomplishments of all students
On service: “I feel like I need to return to the community the things that were given to me. I have also seen, first hand, lives that have been changed by education. ... There’s nothing like talking to graduating students, particularly during summer school. Seeing students that worked so hard to get that diploma, that’s the biggest pat on the back that all of us that work in education can get.”
On investing in the future: “I look at my two granddaughters and I know the things I do today will affect their education. I have to answer to the taxpayers and the employees of the school system, but the most important people we have to answer to are those students.”
Comission District 3
Vital statistics: Married; two children, Allen is the incumbent.
Top issue: Sustained improvement in Columbia County
On public service: “I enjoy being with people. I have also always enjoyed being part of the decision-making process.”
On Columbia County: “Columbia County, on a state level, is considered an affluent county. That’s good. But it also means people have certain expectations. It’s our job to make sure those expectations are met.”
On leaving a legacy: “As God’s creature you are supposed to leave the world a better place. We have two daughters and three granddaughters. They all live in Columbia County. So really, I’m doing this for them.”
Vital statistics: Married; two children. Holley works in his family’s marketing firm.
Top issue: Preparing Columbia County for the future
On public service: “I’ve always been civically involved. What I’ve learned is that it can never be done out of selfish ambition. You have to find yourself drawn to it.”
On the future: “I see the broadband project as essential to growth in the county. It’s something that will really set us apart.”
On marketing Columbia County: “That is a tremendous benefit I bring to the table. The majority of people that have moved to Columbia County in the last 10 years have been between 30 and 50. Those are the people I know how to reach.”
Commission District 2
Vital statistics: Married; two children. Allen, the incumbent, owns a toy store in Columbia County.
Top issue: Preserving Columbia County’s appeal
On history as a model: “I was raised in south Augusta, near the Regency Mall. I’ve seen what happened to the neighborhood I grew up in. It’s something I don’t want to see happen here.”
On the importance of positivity: “We all know there has been a lot of apprehension, apprehension that has caused a lot of anger and conflict. I want to put that behind us. I want to appeal to the better aspects. I want to see things, and help make sure things, improve.”
On the big picture: “I want to see an improved quality of life. I want to see people happy and prosperous. I mean, really, shouldn’t that always be the goal?”
Vital statistics: Married; one child. Benedict is a teacher.
Top issue: Bringing more transparency to the county government
On taking people to task: “Word on the street is that I’m a guy that will throw bombs. I won’t use a shotgun to get a fly off the wall, but sometimes bombs need to be thrown. I believe politicians need to be held to a higher standard.”
On public participation: “I want to hold at least one town hall meeting a month. It is important for people to know what is going on.”
On political responsibility: “Anybody can go there (County Commission meetings) and vote. But it’s important to me to research the matter and determine what is best for District 2 and the county..”
State House District 121
Vital statistics: Married; one child. Fleming is an attorney.
Top issue: Replacing Georgia state income tax with a Fair Tax
On public service: “I believe if you have a talent for something, be it public service or something else, you are obligated to use it.”
On the Fair Tax: “I sat down recently with a guy from Georgia’s Economic Development Project and he told me that in the field of bio-technology, in terms of attracting business, Georgia always loses out to Texas. The reason – state income tax. I believe the Fair Tax would alleviate that.”
On strengthening the community: “I recognize the importance of people that give back to the community. ...The world, without them, would be a much more fragile place.”
Vital statistics: Married; three children, two grandchildren. Popplewell owns CSRA Probation Services and the Georgia Corrections Corp.
Top issue: Tax reform and zero-based budgeting for government agencies
On running for office: “I believe in a life of service. ... It led me to coaching and the Relay for Life, to serving in my church to building a business designed to help people. Now it is leading me here.”
On government: “Spend what you have. Eliminate waste. Work efficiently. I know what it means to balance a budget.”
On the future: “You always need to be asking what you can do that will have a positive long-term effect. ”