Morgan GOP hears from local officials on Presidents’ Day
By Stephanie Johns
Event goers to the annual Morgan County GOP Presidents’ Day Event enjoyed live bluegrass music and Southern food as well as a chance to meet three candidates for the 10th Congressional Seat.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss has said he will not run again, prompting U.S. Representative Paul Broun to run for this office and others to announce their candidacy for Broun’s office.
Retired Georgia State Senator John Douglas said they need to send good people to Washington.
He urged those present to take back the Senate and told them about his four biggest concerns, which are balancing the budget, protecting the Second Amendment, securing the border, and relying on our own energy resources.
He added that he is pro life, pro Israel, and in favor of a strong military.
Retired businessman Brian Slowinski has held at least six Republican leadership positions, from chairman of both the Columbia County Republican and Tea parties to 12th Congressional District Republican Party District Treasurer.
Two of his six children were present with one dressed as George Washington and the other as Abraham Lincoln.
He gestured to them and said they are why he has chosen to run.
“There’s no reason we can’t leave a better country for our children and our grandchildren,” he said.
He said he has served at the grass roots level and honors the Constitution. He said he may not be a fantastic speaker.
“We don’t need fantastic speakers up in Washington,” he said. “We need people who will work and get the job done.”
Milledgeville native Stephen Simpson said that Washington is “broken.”
“We have a crisis of leadership,” he said, adding that he has not yet decided to run. “I’m here for your advice and counsel.”
Simpson then spoke about the importance of national defense, education, and agriculture.
“We need an experienced, good common sense, conservative Republican,” he said.
Other speakers included Stone Workman as well as elected officials State Representative Doug Holt and State Senator Burt Jones.
Workman said the role of government is not to create jobs but to create conditions for jobs.
“That’s how I think government should be: it should be the other mule that hitches with you, that helps the private sector and the individual do the things they need to do,” he said.
Holt said the session is “going well” and noted that he still has page slots available.
When asked by Rennie Nestor whether or not he would support a bill on horse racing or para-mutual betting going before the people for a vote, Holt said he did not.
“For me, on one hand I can see the economic development aspects of it are a slam dunk,” he said. “But there’s a part of me that just can’t go there over the gambling aspect.”
He added that it may not even get out of committee to be voted on.
Nestor noted that Holt would not have to vote for or against it but would vote on whether or not it could come before the people for a vote.
“A more precise analysis, that’s correct,” he said. “But part of me feels like it would be an enabling process.”
Jones remarked on the “domino effect” now that Chambliss is leaving.
“Four or five Congress members are going to leave their posts,” he said.
He urged local Republicans to start recruiting more young people, women, and Latino voters.
“There’s a growing population with a left lean to their politics,” he said.
Jones said he is an optimist, though, and that “things are looking better in this state.”
Morgan GOP Vice-chair Dave Belton said that they are “doing well on the local front” and that they have a “very, very strong party” in the county.
Ainslie updates local Republicans
Morgan County Commissioner Andy Ainslie updated those in attendance.
He said three of the five bridge projects are complete with the other two to be finished “in the very near future.”
The county continues to negotiate with the City of Madison regarding Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) funds.
He said they have taken another 5 percent drop in property taxes but foreclosures are at about half of what they were: down from 209 to 104.
Ainslie also spoke about the impact Baxter International will have on the county.
“Baxter’s going to be such a plus in this community,” he said, adding that they should start reaping tax rewards in 2018.
Markley updates GOP
Morgan County Sheriff Robert Markley also spoke during the event.
He shared plans for starting a gang resistance program in the high school next year to counter those groups.
“It’s in an effort to try to curb some problems that are coming down that other counties around us are experiencing,” he said. “We’re trying to keep that from hitting Morgan County.”
As to the new Public Safety Center, Markley said they have 68 inmates, seven of which are state inmates.
“We have several contracts with the surrounding counties to house their prisoners,” he said.
He noted that one big question he constantly gets asked is, “Why are we not housing prisoners from other counties?”
“Well, the bottom line is: they don’t have the money to pay us,” he said. “They don’t have the money to pay us, I’m not willing to take their prisoners.”
He said they have reached out to other counties and told them they have space available.
Printed in the February 21, 2013 edition