State Senate District 24 candidates answer questions
Four candidates who hope to replace current Georgia Senator Bill Jackson answered questions at the Rock Gym Thursday.
The Republican candidates for the seat being vacated by Jackson are Joe Edge of Evans, Pete Gibbons of Bowman, Greg Grzybowski of Evans, Lee Anderson of Grovetown and Patricia Goodwin of Columbia County. Goodwin couldn’t attend because of a prior engagement.
• On House Bill 757 that was recently vetoed by the governor --
Gibbons said we needed a religious liberty bill and that we would work to generate a “clean bill” that would pass.
Gryzbowski said that like guns, religious liberty is a “bedrock” of rights for Georgians and that he would re-write the bill.
Anderson said it was a shame that Georgians have to spend time defending religion and faith. “Our forefathers are turning over in the graves,” he said.
Edge said that he couldn’t see a Jewish baker begin forced to make a cake with a swastika on it and that he wanted to see the bill to help business owners.
• On House Bill 589 --
Gryzbowski said he expected to have the right to carry a gun in every public institution.
Anderson said if there were no issues against a person (felon) then he believes a person needs to carry a gun to be “as safe as possible.
Edge said the governor should sign the bill but that it is watered down.
Gibbons said he favored campus carry legislation.
• On struggling rural hospitals --
Anderson said we need to have the best doctors available if someone is having a heart attack in a rural area, and that the question arose in a forum in Wilkes County also.
Edge said it was an economic development question and that he wanted to provide incentives for students to get medical training and come back to rural areas to practice medicine.
Gibbons said this problem “hits home” and that the problems troubling the rural communities are of the “utmost importance.”
Gryzbowski said he has a two-part strategy - now and long range. Now he wants to assist rural hospitals stay afloat. Long range he wants the local communities to grow their economic base because ultimately the local citizens need to be able to support their hospitals. Economic growth, said Gryzbowski “empowers counties.”
• On state distribution of school funds --
Edge said economic strength in the community would help the school system and he believes the local rail link and an inland port would be taking the county in the right direction.
Gibbons said finding a way to bring schools back would be to produce jobs and bring the community back.
Gryzbowski said he never jumps on spending more money and that he doesn’t have a lot of faith in local boards of education. He believes the community needs to return to having happy teachers who inspire students.
Anderson said the local system needs to hire the best teachers “then get out of the way.” He said he also doesn’t like sending tax dollars for education to Atlanta and “hope to get it back.”
• In closing comments --
Gibbons said he wants to work with local Rep. Tom McCall to be a “strong voice” for our children and grandchildren.
Gryzbowski said he is a soldier and he wants to continue to serve, saying he has four girls and he wants to work every day and do the right thing.
Anderson said he has the experience to go back to Atlanta and work for the community. He said he worked with Tom McCall to keep Atlanta from drawing water out of the Savannah River Basin and that he wants to continue to work for this area.
Edge said he has heard Anderson say that Anderson wasn’t a politician, but that “he has run for every office in Columbia County.”
“If you are tired of politicians, why would you vote for someone who has been a politician for 30 years?” Edge asked.