State House District 24 Republican challengers debate local issues

sheri gilligan

At the start of the debate, GOP Chairman Jerry Marinich read a statement from Gilligan, a former intelligence officer who was first elected to the seat in 2015, saying she “had a scheduling conflict and could not attend.

“I have had the honor and privilege of serving at State House for seven years, and I truly appreciate the opportunity to serve my community as your representative,” Gilligan said in the statement. “Just as I promised on my first campaign, I brought Forsyth County values ​​to the capital, not Atlanta values ​​to Forsyth County.”

In his statement, Gilligan highlighted several pieces of legislation passed this year, such as banning critical race theory in schools, constitutional gun carriage, banning mask mandates, and lowering taxes. .

“As a founding member of the Georgia Freedom Caucus, I helped usher in the most conservative legislative agenda ever passed by the General Assembly,” Gilligan wrote.

Marinich said he invited Gilligan to the debate but did not receive a response indicating there was a conflict until it was “too late to change the date”.

Education budget

Public education, books in libraries, and what students are taught have been a hot topic in the state during the last legislative session.

During the debate, the candidates were asked about the school budget, which represents 40% of the state budget.

Solly, district manager for Extra Space Storage Inc. and founder of the Concerned Parents of Forsyth County Facebook page, said schools have not been a focus in recent years on Capitol Hill except to seek funding and said stated that he was a supporter of the school. choice, which would allow education funds to follow students rather than immediately go to public schools.

“We’ve created a monopoly that goes far beyond what the founders could have imagined,” Solly said. “Public schools control every state in this country. The teachers’ unions control the federal government, we hear about it day after day. This is where we need things like school choice.

At this point, we’ve gone too far down the rabbit hole to try to go back. We must give parents the opportunity to take their children and educate them as they see fit.

Barrett, president of North Atlanta Market with Affinity Bank, said he’s used to looking at budgets and while there were issues with schools in the state, he didn’t want to ‘throw the baby out. with the bathwater” in Forsyth County.

“We absolutely have to fix the things that need to be fixed, CRT is a foregone conclusion. Inappropriate materials in our libraries, a foregone conclusion,” Barrett said. “These need to be fixed. I would love to see us grow and dedicate more of our resources to our excellent Pathways program locally.

Growth

Over the past 30 years, Forsyth County has been one of the fastest growing counties in the nation, growing from approximately 44,000 residents in 1990 to over 250,000 today. The Atlanta Regional Commission has predicted that the county could double its population by 2040.

Both candidates were asked what they would do to deal with the upcoming growth in the county and the impact the new residents would have on transportation.

They were also asked if they supported expanding MARTA, which Barrett said he didn’t think was realistic and Solly said the county was too big for public transit in the near future.

Barrett boasted that he had relationships with Forsyth County Executive Kevin Tanner and District 11 State Rep. Rick Jasperse, who are the former and current chairman of the city’s transportation committee. State House, and GDOT Regional Commissioner Rudy Bowen, who he said would be key to finishing. projects.

“There are approximately $860 million worth of projects that are identified that we will need in Forsyth County,” he said. “We have a lot of dangerous roads. Not just crowded roads, but dangerous roads in this county. [There are] 53,000 kids in our school system, and everywhere you go there’s a steep shoulder, and when the kids are texting and driving and going off the side of the road, they’re probably coming off a steep embankment in the woods, and it’s a terrifying thing.”

In his response, Solly said Forsyth was fortunate to be a place people wanted to move to and in addition to allowing Georgia Tech graduates to implement traffic plans for the area, another measure to reduce the circulation would encourage companies to have employees work from home.

“It’s something we’ve seen really take off,” Solly said. “Government needs to invest in more broadband access because the more broadband you have in rural communities, the more people can work from home, be just as efficient and they’re not hitting the roads, in danger and they’ don’t clog the roads with traffic.


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Raymond I. Langston