Six want to replace Hank in Congress
by Carla Parker
04.30.10 - 11:59 am
The ink was barely dry on their qualifying documents Tuesday when six newly minted candidates for the 4th Congressional District faced off in the season’s first candidate forum in Decatur.
Three Democrats – former DeKalb CEO Vernon Jones, DeKalb Commissioner Connie Stokes and Lithonia City Council woman Deborah Jackson, who was standing in for incumbent Hank Johnson, sat alongside four Republicans – Victor Armendariz, business consultant Liz Carter, retired naval officer Larry Gause, and humanitarian and ordained minister Cory Ruth – and shared their views on jobs, education, healthcare and domestic violence.
The large turnout of Republicans in this year’s primary is a first for the 4th District, at least in the last 15 years.
It is also the first time that GOP candidates have outnumbered Democrats in a race in the district.
The victors from each party in July 20 primaries will meet in the Nov. 2 general election.
The April 27 discussion was hosted by the Decatur Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and moderated by CrossRoadsNews editor and publisher Jennifer Parker.
The political veterans at the Democratic table touted their experience and appealed to voters to send them to Washington instead of incumbent Johnson, who was unopposed for his second term. Johnson was voting in Congress on Tuesday and did not attend.
Stokes said she is highly qualified for the job.
“I have been a legislator for 16 years in the state Senate and on the County Commission,” she said. “I am applying for this job because I have the experience. Send me to Washington to get the results.”
Jones, who was DeKalb CEO for two terms, said he will replicate his achievements in Washington.
“I want to take the values and initiatives that I was able to do in DeKalb, which was balancing budgets, having the county going to a triple credit rating, and delivering central services,” Jones said. “I want to take that experience to Washington to help them balance the budget, help them create jobs like I have created jobs, and help them improve life for individuals and families.”
Jackson said Johnson has been hard at work in Washington for the last four years.
“His record speaks for itself and it is a very strong record,” she said. “He has represented our values, has fought and delivered for this district and has the experience in getting the job done.”
The GOP candidates said they should replace Johnson in Congress. Armendariz, an American of Hispanic descent, said he is running to rein in big government.
“I want to go work for the people and put the government back in the hands of the people,” he said.
Carter says her 18 years experience in the corporate world and her work in helping small businesses grow, give her the tools to put District 4 back on top.
“I’m sad to see that DeKalb County is no longer the shining jewel of Georgia,” she said. “It’s time we focus on sustainable job growth in the private sector so we don’t have to worry about keeping roofs over our heads.”
Gause told the voters that if he were elected he would take his “common sense ideas” to Washington.
“We need someone who can bring solutions to the problems and I am the person who can do that,” he said.
Ruth, the only African-American among the GOP candidates, said he is the only candidate who comes with a comprehension of human condition, spiritual renewal, and job creation.
“I understand lack and I understand prosperity,” he said. “I understand job loss and I understand job creation.”
With the 4th District’s high unemployment rate, job creation captured the candidates’ imaginations and had the GOP candidates agreeing often with Jones.
Like the former CEO, who now lists his occupation as “consultant,” Armendariz and Ruth said they would cut payroll taxes to put more money in people’s pockets.
Carter also said that she will cut corporate taxes, and that everyone needs to work together to bring jobs to the district.
“We need to work with the Chamber of Commerce and the university system to bring jobs back and sustain them,” she said.
Stokes said she would recruit businesses, retain them and expand them.
Jackson said that jobs is the number one issue for Johnson, who has worked with President Barack Obama to leverage stimulus funds to retain jobs in the district.
“He has been on the job and not just talking about it,” she said.
She said Johnson has delivered hundreds of millions dollars toward creating jobs, including $98 million toward teaching jobs, and to training first responders at DeKalb Technical College and training hard-to-hire workers for green jobs at Goodwill Industries.
Gause said that he would focus more on vocational training for high school students who could head straight to the work force after high school.
“You don’t need a college education for mechanical jobs, so we must focus on vocational training to teach those skills that students will need for those type of jobs,” he said.
With the Deltas focusing on domestic violence, the candidates agreed that the issue should be taught in schools.
“We have to raise nonviolent children; teach them the principles of domestic violence,” Ruth said.
Armendariz said that young kids emulate the behavior they see.
“We have to put forth good relationships,” he said. “We got to do that by example and then young kids will emulate that.”
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