Longtime incumbent state Rep. John Yates, R-Griffin, has a challenger on the July 15 Republican Primary ballot - Rick Williams.
Yates said he should be re-elected based on his record.
“I’ve done a great job,” he said. “Fulfilled all my promises.”
He said he has established many great relationships at the Capitol, without which he would not have been able to get anything done. He said the speaker of the House said that he was one of the most respected people and that is needed to get things done.
He cited his work with veterans and produced letters from University of Georgia President Michael Adams, state Speaker of the House Glenn Richardson, R-Hiram, the American Legion and the Georgia Health Care Association attesting to his efficiency.
“That’s just some of the people,” he said.
Williams said he would be the best person for the job.
“I think I should be a state representative because I will be much more active and much more insistent in making good things happen in our government,” Williams said.
He said Yates is a nice gentleman, but does not represent his district effectively. He said the recent legislative session was a “failure” on such matters as tax reform, education, transportation and the economy. He said he expected someone with Yates’ seniority to stop the partisan bickering and get things done.
“Unfortunately, that leadership didn’t show up,” he said.
He said that of all the bills that Yates could have sponsored, he only sponsored a bill allowing constables to carry a concealed weapon into restaurants, which he described as “non-important.”
Williams described what he would do if elected. He said he would not vote for a budget that does not fully fund education and that he wants to abolish the ad valorem automobile tax. He also said he supports abolishing property tax increases on senior citizens with fixed incomes and that he supports incentives for small businesses due to the “lackluster economy.”
He then discussed transportation.
“We must absolutely make the federal government help us with I-75 as it goes through Henry County so we don’t have mass congestion at rush hour,” he said.
He said that a coordinated and efficient mass transit system is a must. He said he wants to expand MARTA and establish park-and-rides to take thousands of cars off the road. He said the proposed light rail system will not be good enough.
“We need a much better system than what was first proposed, but it’s a good start,” Williams said.
In response to Williams’ criticism of the legislative session, Yates produced a list of bills, including House Bills 89, 119, 130, 301 and 1022.
“He doesn’t have any idea what’s going on up there,” Yates said of his opponent.
Yates said despite Williams’ claims, he voted for education funding and proposed an additional $10 million for Griffin Technical College.
Yates said he does not believe in putting forward a lot of bills and said both bills he sponsored passed.
He said if he is re-elected, he will continue doing what he has always done, since his constituents approve of his performance. He emphasized that he has work to do, including further upgrades to the University of Georgia-Griffin campus.
Yates also questioned Williams’ qualifications for the House seat. He said Williams has no business running as a Republican due to his past dealings with the Democrats and his wife’s donation to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.
Williams responded to Yates’ criticism.
“He’s completely wrong,” Williams said.
He then said that in the past, he was an independent who supported both Republicans and Democrats. He said that when he decided to run for office, he ran as a Republican. He then said that although his wife has donated some of her own money to Obama, he supports Republican presidential candidate John McCain.