Chamber, sorority host political forum

Published 1:17 pm Saturday, May 5, 2018

By Beth Alston

Part 2

AMERICUS — The Americus-Sumter County Chamber of Commerce and Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority hosted a political forum Thursday at the Russell Thomas Jr. Public Safety Building. The event was narrated by Kim Fuller. The forum was being held prior to the first day early voting, Monday, April 30, for the May 22 Primary Election.
First, each candidate was allowed up to five minutes to speak.
Marcus Batten, Democratic candidate for House District 152, was up next. Batten is a farmer who lives in Lee County.
“ … I am a progressive thinker and am about coming together and representing everybody and the whole community and getting everyone involved, not just one group of people. I think that cripples us as a community. I don’t see how we can all move forward in life … if one party in the community is rejected and the other part is well taken care of.
“There are certain things I’d like to say. There’s lots of things I don’t know about but I’m a quik learner. … about things in government.
“There was a tax cut just about a couple of weeks ago. There was an income tax thing for $5.5 million … to save the taxpayers over $1 billion over the next five years….. I don’t think oour stte is in a position for those cuts should be made; that money should be an investment in our state … for public servants, police, teachers, firefighters. Right here in Sumter County we have a large group of volunteer firefighters. These men work other jobs as well … I feel like our public teachers are underpaid. They deserve a raise … For law enforcement, I feel like some of those tax cuts could fund better training … I’m not saying we don’t have the best that there is but in the current climate of how things are right now with the young black male, I’m afraid when I get pulled over by the police …
“Please give me your support and a chance to represent you in the state Legislature.”
Mary Egler, of Leesburg, is a Democratic candidate for House District 152.
“ … I’m a grandmother, a great-grandmother. I was raised in Lee County. I’m running to represent some of Sumter County, and Lee County and Worth County. I feel like there are things that need to be done. For instance, education. I work with the Dougherty County School System as a substitute school teacher. There are more teachers’ hands tied with the core curriculum and the No Child Left Behind policy than they can handle. How do you get a child out of school with a proper education when you cannot give them the grade that they deserve. …
“Then there’s the property taxes that people experience, especially disabled people, retired people who have no children in school, they need a break from those. If the state has so much surplus money, why don’t send some down to these areas in the state in order to give some tax relief. A friend is on the school board said that they got $1 million from the state for the school system but it costs $2 million to keep the school system operating for a year. And every year we get a new millage rate on our taxes … for the school system. And we do need education. We need our children to learn. We need our teachers who … have special ways of teaching and getting children to learn to be able to do so. There is just so much that can be done when everyone works together. And it seems like that there is a lot of arguing, bickering and not being able to work together. And it’s time people put aside these differences and come together as a group as one to work together to try to make a change because things need to change. If they don’t change, we are looking for a very bad, rough time even within pay scales and the way people have to live and depend on subsidies and government because they don’t male enough. Or because they have to work two jobs and can’t be there with their children to raise them the way they should be raised or could be raised. They’re doing the best they can yet they are working toward a dead end and it is getting a lot of our citizens of Georgia depressed and they give up and we need to do something. We need to make a change … If any of you remember your grandmother, where if you had a problem and you went to her, she figured out somehow how to get it straight. Well, I’m grandmother and I don’t believe in giving up … ”

See Part 3 coming up when candidates each get another two minutes at the podium.