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Senate candidate Karen Handel visits Albany

Karen Handel, former Georgia Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate, is running for the U.S. Senate seat about to be vacated by U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Moultrie. She brought her message to the Dougherty Rotary Club on Tuesday. (Staff Photo: Jennifer Parks).

Karen Handel, former Georgia Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate, is running for the U.S. Senate seat about to be vacated by U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Moultrie. She brought her message to the Dougherty Rotary Club on Tuesday. (Staff Photo: Jennifer Parks).

ALBANY — Having put her hat in the ring to take the place of U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Moultrie, next year, former Georgia Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Karen Handel came to Albany Tuesday with her vision of how to re-build the economy and what needs to be done regarding health care reform.

Handel brought her message to the Dougherty Rotary Club, sharing her overall vision for Georgia and the nation, and answering questions from members of the civic club regarding her positions on certain issues.

In so doing, she encouraged the club’s members to maintain a sense of optimism.

“We can all look with pride at the progress we’ve made as a state … our economy is improving,” she said. “I look at our country with tremendous optimism. We do everything to keep things robust, not just for us, but for our children.”

The first question was come up was the issue of “finger-pointing” among both political parties when it comes to placing fault for certain issues or problems, and what needs to be done to help combat that and promote a stronger sense of cooperation.

“We can’t lay blame on one particular party,” Handel said. “For me, it will be about (staying focused on solving problems).

“We need to be more focused on doing what is best for those who elect us, and not just getting re-elected.”

The economy, in light of the recent recession, was also a big topic.

“The best thing we can do to grow the economy is to get out of the way and look at the tax code,” she said. ” … We also need to look at oversight. Businesses have changed, but regulations haven’t. We need to look at those, and get rid of the regulations that don’t make sense anymore.”

A big part of that, Handel said, will also be getting the nation’s budget under control — in part by looking at programs that have been in place for decades even though they were designed to last short-term.

“We as voters and citizens need to demand a balanced budget,” she said.

Regarding the Affordable Care Act, her general opinion is that the nation is not ready for it.

“Both sides have said it is fundamentally flawed. We are not ready,” the Senate-hopeful said. “What we need to do is take a step back. Republicans particularly need to talk about things we are for (and work with that).”

Going back to the budget crisis, there was also a question concerning how the aging population fits into the grand scheme of things as far as certain programs, such as Social Security.

While addressing that, Handel also said it was critical to work on some of the smaller issues first in order to help ease the public’s distrust.

“On Social Security, it is important that we make obligations to our senior citizens, and plan for our younger folks,” Handel said. “I will say this, we have to deal with other spending problems first … we have a lot of work to do, and before we work on the big ones (problems). We have to rebuild trust.”