Thursday, June 10, 2010

League of Woman Voters provide profiles on Dunwoody area candidates for Senate District 40.

Georgia Senate, District 40


The Georgia Senate is the Upper House in the Georgia Assembly, comprised of 56 members. The Senate, together with the State House of Representatives, constitutes the legislature. The duties of the legislature include consideration of proposed laws and resolutions, consideration of proposed constitutional amendments for submission to the voters, and appropriation of all funds for the operation of state government.
PLEASE NOTE: Responses are published exactly as they were submitted by the candidates. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the League of Women Voters of Georgia have made no edits to correct spelling, grammar, punctuation or factual errors.

Eric Christ (D)

Occupation: Senior management positions with Ecommerce and Healthcare software firms.
Age (as of June 10): 43
Education: MBA and Woodruff Fellow, Emory University Business School, 1993. BS in Business Administration, Georgetown University, 1989.
Family: wife Maureen McIvor, fitness instructor; children Kiernan (9) and Moira (6)
Web site: www.christforsenate.com
E-mail: info@christforsenate.com

Why are you running for office?: I’m running to bring a new perspective to the Legislature - a vision of government as a business whose purpose is to serve the interests of its customers: Georgia’s residents and Georgia’s businesses. I’m running to bring a moderate voice to the Legislature - someone who will set aside the demagoguery that has passed as political discourse for too long and seek practical, common sense solutions that meet the needs of our citizens. I'm running to give back to my community via public service.

The 2010 General Assembly has received significant criticism for failing to resolve critical financial issues of the state. If elected, what will you do to ensure better success in 2011 and future legislative sessions?
Eric Christ: Too often our legislators simply kick the can farther down the road instead of taking the tough votes necessary to solve the major problems facing our state: jobs, transportation, water, and education. As a State Senator, I'll be a fierce advocate for my district but will also work for policies that benefit all Georgians. Only by setting aside the hidebound divisions that plague our political process - metro Atlanta vs. rural Georgia, Democrats vs. Republicans - can we achieve real solutions.

How will you engage voters in your district in identifying issues that are important to them, and how will you ensure progress is made on these issues?
Eric Christ: Residents of my district often feel disconnected from the legislative process and frustrated that they are not being heard. I'll be a regular presence, not just during election years, at homeowners associations, business advocacy groups, city councils, and other district meetings. I'll use social media such as Facebook to not just share updates but to solicit input on legislative priorities. Those priorities will be tracked on my web site and I'll host regular district forums to review progress.

What specific changes, if any, to property tax policy would you like to see?
Eric Christ: County and local governments rely disproportionately on property taxes to fund their services. When the state reduces funding for critical services such as education, the options available to local governments to close the funding gap are currently limited. I support efforts to give local governments more flexibility when looking at alternatives to raising property taxes such as targeted User Fees or School Infrastructure Local Option taxes - a variant of the Local Option Sales Tax.

If elected, what would be your three (3) top policy priorities and how would you work to achieve results?
Eric Christ: 1. Creating Jobs by attracting employers in the green and high-tech sectors and expanding the "Georgia Works" program - a public-private job creation partnership. 2. Improving Education by increasing vocational and technical programs and by restoring our focus on Early Childhood education. 3. Increasing Sustainability by developing a comprehensive, long-term solution to the Metro Atlanta water crisis and funding an integrated, 21st century transportation plan that works for all Georgians.

Do you think that Georgia should adopt an independent redistricting commission, that should be put into law in time for 2011 redistricting?
Eric Christ: Yes! Georgia should end the political games around redistricting and join the 16 states that use a bipartisan or independent commission to draw district lines. Specifically, Georgia should have an independent, non-partisan commission that sets district boundaries based solely on population equality and compactness. No electoral or political data, not even the addresses of incumbent politicians, should be considered. These principles should be applied to State and Congressional races in 2011.

What else needs to be done to resolve Georgia’s transportation problems?
Eric Christ: With over half the population, we must focus on metro Atlanta transportation. Years of short-sighted transport policies are catching up to us. Atlantans spend double the amount of time sitting in traffic compared to just 8 years ago. Without a comprehensive plan that extends MARTA rail service, adds new light rail and high speed connections, and integrates bus and shuttle service, the increasing traffic gridlock will divide Atlanta into multiple, smaller labor markets - and employers will leave.

What further changes, if any, does Georgia need in terms of ethics reform?
Eric Christ: Public service is a public trust. While progress was made in the last session, there is significant room for improvement in our ethics laws. First, eliminate all gifts from lobbyists to legislators - if the U.S. Congress can pass this, surely Georgia can. Second, remove the ability to transfer campaign contributions from one candidate to another. This allows incumbents to curry favor with new candidates. Third, fully fund the Ethics Commission and enforce the current laws in a timely fashion.

Jim Duffie  (R)

Mr. Jim Duffie, Republican candidate for Senate District 40 had not replied to the LWV survey or possibly it was lost in the mail therefore I will list his replies here if he desires the information to be published at a later time.

Fran Millar (R)

Occupation: Insurance Broker
Age (as of June 10): 60
Education: B.A. Economics - West Virginia Wesleyan College
Family: Wife - Mary, 3 adult children, 5 grandchildren
Web site: www.millarforstatesenate.com
E-mail: fran.millar@wellsfargo.com

Why are you running for office?: To continue serving my community. Areas of achievement in 12 year legislative experience include tax reform, education accountability, job creation. 2010 accomplishments include author of DeKalb property tax freeze (5% annual tax savings for homeowners); obtaining $27 million for DeKalb school construction - only $1.2 million was originally authorized; author of BRIDGE bill to reduce dropout rate and provide career readiness options. Named one of most influential Georgians by “James” magazine.

The 2010 General Assembly has received significant criticism for failing to resolve critical financial issues of the state. If elected, what will you do to ensure better success in 2011 and future legislative sessions?
Fran Millar: I disagree with criticism. 2011 Budget almost $4 billion less than original FY2009 budget. - over past 2 years cut 20% and 12,000 positions eliminated from state payroll. % of budget for education 45% vs. 43% in FY2009. Eliminated state property tax and income tax on retirees’ income - $200 million taxpayer savings in 5 years. Maintained AAA Bond rating. Will work to implement tax reform council recommendation and zero-based budgeting legislation. All state agencies will have to justify budgets.

How will you engage voters in your district in identifying issues that are important to them, and how will you ensure progress is made on these issues?
Fran Millar: For 12 years I have written column in “The Crier” to keep citizens informed. Do a legislative newsletter with survey questions. Web page has social media options. Do legislative forums prior to and end of session. Speak to groups such as VFW, Rotary, PALS. Active member DHA (Dunwoody Homeowners) Board and will do likewise with UPCCA (Peachtree Corners). Attend Education Parents’ Council. As Vice Chair of Education speak to outside groups. Communication and community involvement set me apart.

What specific changes, if any, to property tax policy would you like to see?
Fran Millar: Expect tax reform council (I supported) to offer some type of consumption (FAIR) tax vs. property tax. Supported eliminating state property tax & constitutional amendment to freeze all property taxes. My DeKalb bill applies to homeowners’ county portion only. Tried to get 100% HOST in DeKalb – can’t do w/DeKalb Dem majority – 16-3 in House & 6-1 in Senate. It won’t change & any candidate that says otherwise is clueless. I obtain realistic solutions to issues & won’t raise false expectations.

If elected, what would be your three (3) top policy priorities and how would you work to achieve results?
Fran Millar: Top priorities: transit, jobs, water, education. Member Special Small Business Dev. committee/endorsed by NFIB (small business). Supported various tax incentive legislation, capital gains tax cut to stimulate job growth; water conservation bill/reservoirs. Working on alternative water source with TN. As Vice Chair of Educ. supported legislation from accountability to choice. Push SAT/ACT min. score & B average for student to obtain HOPE scholarship (no illegals). No on the job training needed.

Do you think that Georgia should adopt an independent redistricting commission, that should be put into law in time for 2011 redistricting?
Fran Millar: An independent redistricting commission will not happen. The Democrats never considered it an option when they were the majority and neither will Republicans. I’m the only candidate that has been through redistricting. I initiated the 6th Congressional District coming into DeKalb (down to Marist). My goal in 2011 is to further emancipate voters from the 4th Congressional District – possibly move it further south and east in DeKalb.

What else needs to be done to resolve Georgia’s transportation problems?
Fran Millar: Will urge voters to reject HB 277 in 2012 unless in the interim the General Assembly puts MARTA under the state and exempts DeKalb/Fulton citizens from an additional penny tax. All transit needs to be made part of a comprehensive solution (my AJC editorial in 2009). No great city relies only on highways. Congestion and poor education performance are the greatest impediments to future economic growth. As your senator I won’t sit by and watch Charlotte supplant ATL as Capitol of the South.

What further changes, if any, does Georgia need in terms of ethics reform?
Fran Millar: Major change needed in ethics (like illegal immigration) is Enforce the law. We expanded state’s authority over campaign finance/lobbyist/personal finance disclosures. Lobbyists must report $ spent on public officials twice as often as now. Bill addresses public officials who try to wrongly use power of office. Similar legislation for school board members & Metro Chamber will confirm I was instrumental in its passage. As economy improves need to give more $ to Ethics Commission for enforcement.

James Sibold (R)

Age (as of June 10): 54
Education: B.A. University of California, Berkeley in Political Science 1979 J.D. University of Georgia School of Law 1982
Family: Married, wife is Karen, two daughters, Marybeth and Natalie
Web site: www.Sibold4Senate.com
E-mail: Sibold4Senate@Bellsouth.net

Why are you running for office?: I believe that I possess a unique set of skills and experiences which will enable me to craft the legislation necessssary to confront the challenges that we face today.

The 2010 General Assembly has received significant criticism for failing to resolve critical financial issues of the state. If elected, what will you do to ensure better success in 2011 and future legislative sessions?
James Sibold: The economy remains the preeminent issue facing our legislature. Without a robust, healthy business environment, there can be no meaningful economic recovery. Absent the creation of new jobs, tax revenues will continue to decline and force more service cuts. Taking the steps necessary to recruit new business and their jobs should be the prime focus of our elected officials. In the final analysis, until we put Georgia and Georgians back to work, there will be nothing but shortfalls in revenue.

How will you engage voters in your district in identifying issues that are important to them, and how will you ensure progress is made on these issues?
James Sibold: At the present time, I am going door-to-door in the district speaking with voters about their concerns. If elected, I would hold regular town hall meetings to discuss current topics with the voters and listen to their concerns. To insure that progress was made on the issues raised at these town hall meetings, I would also conduct an annual briefing event where a comprehensive review of each year's legislature was analyzed and critiqued.

What specific changes, if any, to property tax policy would you like to see?
James Sibold: We need to reform our tax structure and move away from taxing property and place our revunue collections on consumption. Our current system penalizes those who work hard and efficiently on the formation of capital. By shifting our poblic policy from a tax on property to a tax on consumption we will reward those who want to "create wealth" and shift the burden to those who want to live a particular type of lifestyle.

If elected, what would be your three (3) top policy priorities and how would you work to achieve results?
James Sibold: There is only one priority facing our legislature, and that is getting people back to work. Quality of life issues are important, but it is hard to concern yourself with those issues when many are in need of a job. Bringing new jobs to Georgia by attracting new business would be my top policy priority. I would do so 1)by making Georgia as a state more competitive then other states by eliminating the corporate income tax and 2) by passing a temporary targeted tax credit for hiring new workers.

Do you think that Georgia should adopt an independent redistricting commission, that should be put into law in time for 2011 redistricting?
James Sibold: No. The last thing we need is more government. The creation of such a redistricting commission would be just that, an additional, inefficient bureaucracy. The current law already provides for a method of redistricting, and I believe it has more than adequate checks and balances.

What else needs to be done to resolve Georgia’s transportation problems?
James Sibold: It is important to note that traffic congestion, while inefficient and frustrating, is a sign of economic growth. The most cost efficient method for dealing with traffic congestion is to add more capacity. Given the current state of the economy with its contracting revenue base, adding capacity is not a practical alternative. I advocate public-private partnerships where private capital could be brought in by "for profit" entities which helps provide for our transportation needs.

What further changes, if any, does Georgia need in terms of ethics reform?
James Sibold: We do a fairly good job monitoring the behavior of our lobbyist and legislature. Government agencies need more transparency and the watchful eye of ethics reform. If elected, I would work toward passing legislation that placed those individuals who seek to sway decision-making entities such as the PSC or EPD under the same disclosure requirements as the legislative branch.

2 comments:

John Heneghan said...

Forgot to mention: other statewide races can be found here.

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Eric said...

Thanks for publicizing this LWV Voter Guide!

Eric Christ