FLOWERY BRANCH - State House District 25 candidates, six Republicans and one Democrat, fielded questions Tuesday night on a laundry list of issues, everything from immigration to funding transportation with the regional SPLOST; after two hours they were asked to take a pledge to combat negative campaigning.
The call for the pledge came from former Hall Commissioner, now house district candidate, Bobby Banks in his closing remarks, concerning negative phone calls.
"I would[ask]everyone on this panel tonight to pledge to stop the negative phone calls that we're getting," Banks said. "They started yesterday and they've continued into today and I'd like for all seven of us to pledge not to do it."
Banks said the caller is asking people if they would vote for him knowing his membership was not renewed in the Hall Republican party, though he remained a member of the state party.
"There's a big difference in getting kicked out of one than the other,
Banks added. "It just ticked me off about the phone calls we got this afternoon. Please vote for me, you know where I stand when I tell you what I'm going to do. I learned early on in the Commission that it's better to be effective than popular."
Emory Dunahoo said a caller was asking if they would vote for him if they knew he hired illegal aliens, which he said was untrue.
The political forum, sponsored by the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, was hosted jointly by Jacobs Media and the Gainesville Times. Chamber President and CEO Kit Dunlap said it was a chance for the public to meet the candidates since time was short before the special election next Tuesday, November 8th to fill the unexpired term of James Mills.
Mills was picked by Governor Nathan Deal to fill a vacancy on the State Pardon and Paroles Board.
Paul Wayne Godfrey, the lone Democrat, will appear on the ballot along with the six Republicans including Banks, Dunahoo, Dominic Ottaviano, Todd Reed, William "Sonny" Sykes and Kris Yardley.
Candidates agreed with each other about as much as they differed on issues raised by the questions, many of them from the standing-room only audience in the Spout Springs Library meeting room in Flowery Branch.
On government waste, immigration, and national healthcare they were united and all of them promised, if elected, to change redistricting to assure that South Hall County would get proper representation at the State Capital.
None of the candidates expressed support for the regional sales tax for transportation, and while there was support for a 'guest worker' program in Georgia, all of them wanted strong illegal immigration laws to stay in force. They supported term limits with legislators serving no more than three terms.
Ottaviano differed with the other candidates on permitting casino gambling in the state, possibly at Lake Lanier.
"I'm going to go with free enterprise," he said. "If people want a casino and they're going to spend money at a casino, let it be built. I think part of being a free country means that you're going to let things happen that you don't always agree with."
Sykes said legislative support for casinos would be futile since Governor Deal has said he's opposed to them and would veto such a legislative measure calling for them. Godfrey said he was opposed; if Georgians want to gamble at a casino they can go across the state line.