Republican candidates vying in the July 15 primary tried to sell themselves Monday to fellow GOP members during a party-sponsored forum.
Held at the Evans Government Complex, candidates, or their representatives, in county races discussed their platforms and tried to distinguish themselves from their opponents.
"I support orderly growth and responsible growth," said Charles Allen, who is running against Deanne Hall for the Columbia County Commission District 3 seat.
Allen said he would like to "freeze" property taxes to match the rate of inflation in the county. He also said sales tax dollars should be spent to improve the county's roads.
Hall said growth management, smart commercial growth and fiscal responsibility are what she believes the voters of District 3 are concerned about.
"Commercial growth is necessary because it provides tax dollars, jobs and lifestyle conveniences," she said. "However, commercial growth at the expense of a community is not necessary."
In the commission District 4 race, former Harlem Mayor Scott Dean said his experience directing city growth, his commitment to the community and his ability to work with other lawmakers makes him the more-qualified candidate.
"Tax relief has to be priority No. 1, but we can't do it easily," he said. "We have to work with our state legislators."
David Payne, Dean's opponent, touted his community commitment.
"That's ... what I want to do; serve the people," he said.
In his bid to unseat incumbent state Rep. Ben Harbin in District 118, Lee Benedict said he wants to improve education funding in the state while offering tax relief.
Benedict said Harbin's influence as the chair of the House Appropriations Committee is not translating into additional funding for Columbia County.
"We are not being represented the way we should," he said.
Harbin rebutted Benedict's statement and said the county's school system is receiving $20 million more from the state than it did four years ago.
Also, Harbin said he intends to continue fighting for a "fair tax system" that brings relief to the state's middle class.
In the race for state House District 117, candidate Lee Anderson's wife, Donna, spoke on his behalf.
"He is a doer and will be a watchdog for you in Atlanta," Anderson said of her husband.
Lee Anderson wants to improve education funding and supports the construction of more reservoirs in the state, his wife said.
Brett McGuire, Anderson's opponent, is a retired businessman and said he knows "what it takes to compete in today's global economy."
While discussion of cutting taxes is good, McGuire said state lawmakers also need to seek ways to cut spending.
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