April 10, 2014

Candidates tout conservative beliefs

— Small government. Local control. Fiscal responsibility. Constitutional conservatism.

Candidates at a forum hosted Tuesday night by the Whitfield County Republican Party pledged their fealty to a common core of principles.

The forum brought together candidates on the May 20 Republican primary ballot as well as for nonpartisan elections for the Conasauga Superior Court seat currently held by Judge David Blevins. The Conasauga circuit covers Whitfield and Murray counties.

Blevins is being challenged in that race by Dalton Municipal Court Judge Jim Wilbanks and by Assistant District Attorney Scott Helton. All three men have extensive experience in the legal profession, and all three men touted their conservative philosophies.

When one audience member asked their views on abortion, Wilbanks and Helton indicated they oppose abortion. Blevins said he could not answer that question because judges are not supposed to pre-judge any issues that might come before them.

“If I answered that question, no matter what my answer, I would disqualify myself (from hearing any cases involving abortion),” he said.

Voters also heard from state Rep. Steve Tarvin of Chickamauga and Ebeth Edwards, a businesswoman from Villanow, who are in the Republican primary for state House of Representatives District 2. District 2 includes the western part of Whitfield County as well as parts of Catoosa and Walker counties.

Edwards has worked as a dental hygienist as well as in a general store and for a sod farm owned by her family. Tarvin is a businessman who has served on the Chickamauga City Council and school board and was elected to the state House earlier this year to fill the unexpired term of Jay Neal, who stepped down last year to head a state office that helps to transition prisoners back into society.

Renee Davis, Cody Holloway and Barry Robbins, candidates for Whitfield County Board of Commissioners District 1, also spoke. Gordon Morehouse is not seeking re-election this year. All three candidates pledged to be fiscally conservative and watch how taxpayer dollars are spent.

Jamie Johnson and incumbent Rodney Lock, who will meet in the primary for Whitfield County Board of Education District 2, also spoke. Both men said it is important for the school system to properly prepare students for work and for college.

The audience also heard from state Rep. Tom Dickson, R-Cohutta. He will face Sarah Fields in the primary for state House District 6.

Asked about the Common Core Standards education initiative developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, Dickson, a former school superintendent, said he believes there is a great deal of misunderstanding of the initiative.

Common Core, he said, develops a set of standards that all students across the United States are expected to know. But he said Common Core does not dictate how to teach those standards. That, he said, remains up to states and to local school systems.


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