April 24, 2014

Voters get chance to meet candidates at League picnic

Just four days before the start of early voting on Monday for the May 20 general primary, eight candidates made a push for votes at the annual League of Women Voters of the Dalton Area picnic Thursday night.

“I want to thank the League for having us here tonight,” said Ebeth Edwards, who is challenging state Rep. Steve Tarvin of Chickamauga in the Republican primary for state House of Representatives District 2. The event was at the Dalton-Whitfield Senior Center.

About 40 people from across northwest Georgia got a chance to eat and chat with many of the candidates in the primary for Whitfield County and state legislative races, as well as a nonpartisan election for a seat on the Conasauga Superior Court, which covers both Whitfield and Murray counties.

Edwards touted her years of experience in both agriculture and business. Her family has run The Sod Farm, a commercial turf-growing operation in Villanow, for some 25 years. Edwards said her key issues are using tax dollars wisely and returning more control over education to local school boards from the state.

Tarvin did not attend the event.

Whitfield County native Sarah Fields is challenging state Rep. Tom Dickson of Cohutta in the Republican primary for state House District 6. Fields said she is “irritated” by some of the things going on in Atlanta. In particular, she said, she is opposed to Common Core, an education initiative developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

“I want local school boards to control our children’s education, not someone in Chicago or Washington,” she said.

She said that when she is campaigning many people have expressed their concern that Common Core standards will erode local control.

“I will work to do everything I can to get Common Core out of Georgia,” she said.

Dickson was not at the picnic. League Co-President Virgelia Meek said he’d called in advance to say he would be in Pennsylvania celebrating his father’s birthday.

Three candidates are running in the nonpartisan race for Superior Court, and all boasted extensive legal experience.

Judge David Blevins, the incumbent, said he believes “in the Constitution of the United States.” He said judges should interpret the laws and the Constitution as they are written and not try to impose an ideology.

Scott Helton, a Whitfield County native, has served 18 years in the Conasauga district attorney’s office as a prosecutor. He said he has handled thousands of cases and learned how to make tough decisions.

Dalton Municipal Court Judge Jim Wilbanks, who was born and raised in Murray County, said he knew since he was 9 that he wanted to be a judge and spent his life preparing for that role. In addition to serving on the Dalton court, he has also served as judge pro tem for the city of Varnell Municipal Court, associate judge for Juvenile Court in the Conasauga District, and a judge pro tem who fills in for Superior Court judges, among other posts.

Two of the four candidates for Whitfield County Board of Commissioners District 1 also spoke.

Renee Davis, a Berry College graduate and owner of Four Paws Pet Resort, said she would keep a close eye on county spending and look for ways to save taxpayers money.

“That’s something I have to do in my own business. I have to operate within a budget and make sure that I don’t waste any money,” she said.

Cody Holloway, an industrial technology teacher at Dalton High School, said that before he became a teacher he was a project manager in the carpet industry and has experience working on projects with large budgets.

“We need smaller government. We need less government. And we need efficient government,” he said.

Both Davis and Holloway are running in the Republican primary, as are Barry Robbins and Nicky Starling.

Whitfield County Board of Education member Rodney Lock said he is running for re-election because he thinks the school system is going in the right direction and he wants to help it continue to improve. He will face Jamie Johnson in the Republican primary.


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