As part of a continuing effort to improve its stature in a heavily Republican county, the Columbia County Democratic Party played host to two events this past week featuring three candidates for governor.
Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker and former commander of the Georgia Army National Guard David Poythress on Friday attended a gubernatorial candidates forum.
A Monday meeting featured candidate DuBose Porter, House minority leader and Dublin newspaper publisher.
As governor, Porter said, he could raise Georgia's school system into the national top 20.
Porter railed against Repub-lican leaders whom he said denied local school systems $2 billion in state funding during the past seven years. As one of the architects of the Quality Basic Education formula, Porter said he would fully fund public education and reduce class sizes.
Other items on his political agenda include increasing the number of students eligible for the Hope scholarship, improving Atlanta's mass transit system, improving public safety by hiring more state troopers and developing a state water plan based on watershed assessments.
Speaking from the Jabez Sanford Hardin Performing Arts Center in the Columbia County Library Friday, Poythress delivered specific ideas for improving the state's economy. He said water, transportation and education issues "underpin economic prosperity" in the state and Republican leaders have ignored those issues.
Poythress said he would focus on water conservation, raising dam levels, building new reservoirs, developing a regional water plan, improving the rail system for transporting goods from the Port of Savannah, and adding technology to classrooms.
Following Poythress, Baker focused more on is previous accomplishments, such as helping establish Hope, eliminating sales taxes on groceries and stiffening laws against violent crimes and domestic abuse.
As attorney general, Baker said, he worked to introduce legislation targeting identity thieves and those committing mortgage fraud long before those issues became national headlines.
As governor, Baker said, he wants to devote more funding to transportation needs, education and trauma care centers.
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