Local News

June 14, 2014

Carter country

Democrats turn out to support party’s candidate for governor

Democrats have been the underdogs in Whitfield County for some time, but you wouldn’t know it by the atmosphere at the party’s Kennedy-Carter Dinner Saturday night. Democrats from across northwest Georgia packed the trade center dining hall, and they seemed confident, excited and hopeful.

One key reason was the evening’s keynote speaker: Jason Carter, the party’s candidate for governor this year and the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter.

“We’ve been busy all week. We’ve been busy for a long time. We are traveling to every corner of the state, and we’ve had a great reception,” said Carter, who was capping off a day of campaigning in several parts of northwest Georgia.

Carter, who will face Republican incumbent Gov. Nathan Deal in the November general election, said the top concern voters have expressed to him is the state’s education system.

“That has been the focus of our campaign — the education system and how we need to do better,” said Carter, an attorney and state senator from Atlanta. “My first priority is to change the shell game that we currently have with the budget. Right now, we have every year taken money from education to fund other things.”

Carter said the state can’t ask taxpayers for more money because they don’t trust politicians to do what they say they’ll do with it.

“But what you can do to insure that we fund education appropriately is to make it our first budgeting priority and to present, as I have called for, a separate education budget,” Carter said. “That education budget would be set first, then we look at everything else in the budget to make sure those issues compete against each other and are not taking necessary funds out of education.”

Carter said the state also needs to have a clear, well-defined vision for education and his is to attract and retain the best teachers and give them the support they need to do their jobs.

“Education is economic development, and we need to invest in our people in order to have an economy that works. If we don’t have a prosperous middle class, we will never have a strong economy,” he said

In addition to shoring up k-12 education, Carter said the state needs to make sure that its citizens have access to higher education, including technical colleges and two-year colleges.

Carter also said that ethics reform would be one of his top priorities.

“The (state) ethics commission needs to be independent. Its job is to investigate and police the politicians. You can’t put the politicians in charge of the group that is supposed to make sure they are keeping between the lines,” he said.

The dinner, which is named in honor of Presidents Carter and John F. Kennedy, featured other Democratic candidates.

Connie Stokes, a former state senator and former DeKalb County commissioner, is seeking the post of lieutenant governor. The lieutenant governor serves as president of the state Senate, and Stokes said her experience in the state Senate could help her influence legislation if she is elected. She faces Republican incumbent Casey Cagle in the November election.

Whitfield County resident Margaret Ball campaigned for Jimmy Carter during his first presidential run in 1976, and she said she was excited that Jason Carter will be heading up the party’s ticket in Georgia this fall.

“I asked Jason to run almost two years ago,” she said. “He has such an outstanding record, and he is a wonderful person.”

 

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