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Candidates give 7-minute views

Photo by Barry Levine

Photo by Barry Levine

ALBANY -- Seven candidates in five different races gave their views at a "Town Hall" 10 a.m. Saturday at the Albany Police Department Law Enforcement Center.

Hosting the event at his usual monthly meeting, Albany City Commissioner Jon Howard said, "Each candidate will make a 7-minute presentation about their platform."

It seemed that the incumbents planned to rely on their record in office to establish their campaigns. The challengers thought they could do a better job on the same issues including the economy, crime and taxes.

In the seven minutes allotted there wasn't much specific issue discussion before the audience of about 100.

U.S. Rep Sanford Bishop Jr., D-Albany, extolled his record of bringing money to the Second Congressional District through his memberships on U.S. Congressional committees involving agriculture, veterans and appropriations among others.

"I am a proven leader who has delivered for you and I want to continue to deliver for you," Bishop said. "My vote doesn't belong to President Obama or Senator Pelosi, it belongs to you."

Bishop's opponent Republican Mike Keown, R-Coolidge, had a previous engagement and could not attend the Town Hall to present his views.

Both candidates for Georgia State Representative District 150 spoke at the meeting. Incumbent Rep. Winfred Dukes D-Albany, outlined his history of service to the district and emphasized his pledges to the voters.

Dukes said his record included introducing legislation on tax breaks for industry, money for education, business and job creation.

"I said I would go to Atlanta and work hard for you and coalesce with other legislators to get things done for the people I represent," Dukes said. "I said I would keep you informed and I have."

With her seven minutes, challenger Karen Kemp, R-Albany, emphasized the pain of the down economy, her experience running the Lily Pad, a rape and domestic abuse organization, and law enforcement.

Kemp said that if elected she would work to keep industries such as Procter & Gamble retain jobs and stay in the area. Under her leadership she has seen her organization hit by budget cuts, but it has managed to grow from one fulltime employee to 28 contracted employees.

"What we need are creative solutions and problem solving," Kemp said. "We need tax breaks to put people back to work. Another passion of mine is public safety. It is a huge issue and the centerpiece of my campaign."

Incumbent District 2 Dougherty County Commissioner John Hayes said financial responsibility was one of his hallmarks. He also said that he would like to stop the bleeding of jobs from the county by offering industry such as Procter & Gamble incentives to stay and grow.

"As a banker I am familiar with budgets. In my term (of office) we have not raised taxes. We have been fiscally responsible," Hayes said. "We have the ability to change the existing economy with the existing industry expanding and the creation of new jobs."

Running against Hayes, political newcomer Lonnie Smith proposed that the county commission write a five-year plan to retain and increase jobs, reduce crime and improve the school system.

"Our tax base has declined dramatically while retaining an inflated county budget, which is unsustainable," Smith said. "To bring jobs and lead our recovery we must become more competitive. This means less regulation, less taxing."

Two Libertarian candidates for office also made an appearance at the meeting. James Sendelbach is seeking a position on the District 2 Public Service Commission and John H. Monds is running for governor.

Public service commissioners regulate utility prices in the state, Sendelbach said. He would be the commissioner who would not allow raises in utility rates whether through rates or surcharges. He would also do away with the guaranteed more than 10 percent profit margins that utility companies are guaranteed.

Monds based his candidacy for governor on his party's principles respecting the rights of individuals.

"The purpose of government is to protect our rights," Monds said. "Government doesn't create jobs, business does. Government should get out of the way."

City Commissioner Roger Marietta introduced the candidates at the meeting after Howard's preamble.

He said that another candidate forum would be held at Darton College at noon Oct. 27. He did not mention who would attend.