FLOWERY BRANCH - The 'Ghost of Politics Past' haunted a Christmas season House 25 District runoff candidates forum Saturday morning and Bobby Banks, running against Emory Dunahoo, found its appearance so disagreeable that he left.
Banks told the audience that the question about whether he would be fair to all constituents was unfair to him, and he left the podium.
"I think I'm leaving now," Banks said. "If you like me vote for me, if you don't, vote for Mr. Dunahoo, but I'm leaving."
Banks and Dunahoo fielded introductory questions from Hall Republican Party Vice Chairman of Events Michael Nosach about redistricting, ethics and term limits, and the Special Purpose Regional Sales Tax for Transportation. Nosach then opened the forum up to questions from the audience.
Dunahoo and Banks are in a runoff race set for next Tuesday, December 6th, for the South Hall legislative seat vacated by veteran House member James Mills, who Governor Nathan Deal appointed by the State Board of Pardon and Paroles. Initially there were seven candidates vying for the post.
The forum, hosted by Hall Republicans, was held at Spout Springs Library in Flowery Branch.
Audience member Pamela Norman directed the very first inquiry at Banks, asking him how would he represent everyone fairly if he had an enemies list and a friends list and would be punishing his enemies and helping his friends.
She referred to a previous Tea Party meeting where she claimed Banks said he saw 'friends and enemies in the audience.'
"Given that, you bragged about getting your opponent fired from his job after you lost last year," she said.
The remark was a reference to last year's District One Hall Commission race in which Banks sought re-election, facing then Flowery Branch City Council member Craig Lutz, who won the commission seat and was also in the forum audience.
"I told you the personal attacks would start," Banks replied in an irritated tone of voice. "I did not get Mr. Lutz fired. According to his web site it was two years in the making and then I found out I got him fired, so which lie is it?"
Banks said the web site stated plainly that Lutz resigned.
Dunahoo, left to answer questions by himself, made occasional references to the fact that Banks was gone, but added that he was sorry Banks left.
"I would have rather Bobby stayed here," Dunahoo said. "I understand that maybe the question that was asked upset him. I want to tell Bobby that he has my word I had nothing to do with anybody here because people came here to listen to both of us. We can't help what one person or two people might ask or try to do to me or him."
Phyllis Mercer, one of the last questioners, said she did not like the forum format and the resulting atmosphere she said it created.
"I think it was unfortunate that there either was an atmosphere or a plan that someone would come to this meeting with the intent of not respecting either of these candidates," Mercer said. "We need to respect the candidates and that is not the way I sensed the first question today."