Local News

May 15, 2014

Candidate profile: Incumbent Dickson looks for middle ground on the issues

— It isn’t the federal government’s responsibility to set educational standards, says state Rep. Tom Dickson.

But Dickson, a former Whitfield County Schools superintendent, is in favor of having at least some sort of standards that are consistent from state to state. For example, every high school graduate should know that seven times eight equals 56, he said.

Dickson is running for re-election for state House of Representatives District 6 in the Republican primary on Tuesday. He faces Sarah Fields. The district includes most of Whitfield County north of Dalton and northern Murray County.

Dickson, of Cohutta, has served as representative of the district since 2005. He says he believes he has gained a lot of experience that will help him continue to work for the area and the state, especially with the changes in education.

Dickson serves on the Education Appropriations subcommittee and is a member of the Education Committee. He admits there are some problems with the Common Core education standards but he believes most people disagree with Common Core because they misunderstand it. Common Core is a set of standards developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. States who have adopted it receive financial incentives from the federal government.

“Part of what people disagree on probably isn’t Common Core itself,” Dickson said. “I don’t love Common Core. I don’t think we should change it, but there are some things teachers want fixed.

“Common Core is a set of standards. The curriculum is different, and that’s up to the local schools.”

Curriculum is how to teach the standards and which programs to use, Dickson said. There are no tests mandated by Common Core, he said, adding some schools have received grants that require additional testing.

Dickson said there will be opportunities for the public to give input on Common Core, and there were times for the public to give their input before it was adopted.

Dickson also serves on the Economic Development and Tourism Committee. He said he will continue to focus on how to create a business-friendly environment in several ways.

There is a committee that is listening to small business owners around the state to see how state officials can further help them succeed, especially when it comes to eliminating red tape.

“What red tape stands in the way of them being successful?” Dickson said. “We’ll change some of those things. It’s not always easy to do. It’s difficult to do away with some paperwork.

“How do we make life easier for the citizens of Georgia? It’s my job, finding that middle ground between protecting people and giving people the freedom to live their lives. I have to find that middle ground.”

Dickson said he will continue to review business tax credits to make sure they are effective. Tax credits are used to help attract businesses to the state, but if they’re not beneficial legislators will begin to phase them out, he said.

Without tax credits, the state began to lose businesses to surrounding states, Dickson said. It was cheaper for industries to build a new plant in South Carolina or Alabama, he said.

But now that there are some tax incentives in place, “We’re beginning to see the fruits of that,” Dickson said. “We should continue to see that.”

Dickson said being a state legislator is a good way to give back to the community that has done so much for him and his family.

“My career as an educator was in public service, but this is a real opportunity to give back to my community,” he said. “My father was a minister and was involved in his community. I learned you lead a life of service.”

Dickson can be reached at home at (706) 694-3908 or by email at dickson@house.ga.gov.

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