Candidates spent the first portion of the event mingling and speaking with voters, addressing concerns and answering questions face-to-face. The final half of the event provided candidates an opportunity to present their platforms and share their views on relevant issues. Melinda Thomas (VBOR) welcomed the crowd and kicked off the event. Franklin Bailey (HBASG) moderated the event as the candidates spoke to the challenges they intend to address if elected.
Tally Mark Wisenbaker, Jr. (R) and Tom Hochschild (D), running for Lowndes County Commission (District 3) addressed various concerns within the local community. Wisenbaker focused on the need for growing business, bringing new industry to the area, developing a smarter budget, and developing infrastructure and county water and sewage systems. Hochchild aims to create a more unified community through family friendly events. Hochschild will work to reposition the Sabal Trail pipeline development to gain more capital, and will promote the area as an educational and entrepreneurial hub in order to retain young talent and attract new industry.
In the race for State House (District 174), John Corbett (R) assured attendees that he will focus his efforts on support for education, small business and local farmers. Jessie Smith (D) did not attend.
Seeking to procure a State Senate seat (District 8), C. Ellis Black (R) and Bikram Mohanty (D) both spoke to the need for funding and support for education. Black spoke to his experience in the State House of Representatives and the need to develop existing industry and find a more equitable way to balance the State budget. Mohanty will aim to introduce term limits, reduce taxes on small business, and support Moody AFB.
E.L. Buddy Carter (R) and Brian Corwin Reese (D) represented the race for U.S. Representative (District 1), the seat being vacated by Jack Kingston. Carter aims to reduce the national debt by creating and passing a balanced budget focused on cutting expenses and entitlement reform. Carter also promised to work to make the government more job-friendly in order to foster economic development, military support for Moody AFB through base installation protection, and for the reinstatement of free market principles in healthcare. Reese addressed the need to cross party lines and remind elected officials of their responsibility to serve the people. Reese promised to work strategically to decrease poverty and create new jobs, saying political leaders cannot get caught up on trying to stop Obamacare, a program he says has already helped millions.
Bruce Allred, Chamber Government Affairs Council Chair, ended the event by thanking voters for their efforts to be educated. “As voters, we have a responsibility to ourselves and our community to be informed and to take our opinions to the polls. That’s how we get things done.” Allred also introduced the Chamber Campaign Academy, a new initiative set to begin in 2015. The program will provide information to citizens interested in running for office on available seats, eligibility requirements and tips for campaigning.
For more information about the Chamber’s advocacy efforts, please call Myrna Ballard at (229) 247-8100 ext. 222, or visit www.ValdostaBusinessVoice.com.
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