New­com­ers in Dist. 95 race

Rep. Mum­ford leaves va­cant seat in House

The Covington News - - Front Page - By Rachel Oswald

Seek­ing to fill the va­cated seat of Robert Mum­ford, real es­tate bro­ker Toney Collins and mar­ket­ing man­ager Erick Hunt are com­pet­ing to rep­re­sent District 95 in the Ge­or­gia House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

“I just want to put Ge­or­gia back on track with af­ford­able health care. I want to cre­ate jobs and en­sure good ed­u­ca­tion for our kids. I do want to work across party lines,” said Demo­crat Collins, who ran once un­suc­cess­fully for the Ge­or­gia leg­is­la­ture in 2006.

If elected, Collins said he would fo­cus on the ar­eas of health care and ed­u­ca­tion.

“I’m a per­son that has had per­sonal health care is­sues be­fore,” said Collins, who is a for­mer kid­ney trans­plant pa­tient. “ Health care is very im­por­tant to me. I’m go­ing to work hard for PeachCare.”

Hunt,

a Repub­li­can, said he would bring with him to At­lanta a strong sense of fis­cal re­spon­si­bil­ity, which he has used for years in cor­po­rate Amer­ica manag­ing large bud­gets of $40 mil­lion.

“There al­ways is some ex­pen­di­tures some place that are un­nec­es­sary. It’s called mak­ing a tough de­ci­sion,” said Hunt, adding that he would go line by line through the state bud­get looking for “fat” to cut. “I’m very fa­mil­iar with the bud­get­ing process, how dif­fi­cult and

in­tri­cate it is. All I know how to func­tion is in an en­vi­ron­ment of fis­cal re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

To solve the state’s glar­ing trans­porta­tion prob­lem Hunt said he would sup­port or in­tro­duce leg­is­la­tion that would al­low vot­ers to “craft their trans­porta­tion im­prove­ment plans in con­cert with the state [ Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion].” That could in­clude a ref­er­en­dum to ap­prove a re­gional Spe­cial Pur­pose Lo­cal Op­tion Sales Tax for the fund­ing of lo­cal trans­porta­tion projects.

He said he would also sup­port per­ma­nently des­ig­nat­ing the fourth penny of the state sales tax, which he said amounts to $150 mil­lion an­nu­ally, to GDOT for des­ig­nated road projects, al­ter­na­tive trans­porta­tion and the con­ver­sion of some tra­di­tional high­way lanes to HOV lanes.

Collins said he would en­cour­age more car pool­ing, more pub­lic trans­porta­tion for the district and a light rail sys­tem.

“We do have to find ways to con­nect with down­town At­lanta and Gwin­nett County,” Collins said. “I think the best way to do that is to bring in a light rail sys­tem.”

Collins sug­gested hold­ing a ref­er­en­dum and ask­ing vot­ers to de­cide whether to raise ho­tel/mo­tel taxes or state gaso­line taxes to pay for trans­porta­tion im­prove­ments.

Both candidates said they sup­ported keep­ing the $428 mil­lion Home­owner Tax Re­lief Grant, which re­im­burses lo­cal gov­ern­ments that pro­vide a homestead tax ex­emp­tion. Gov. Sonny Per­due has pro­posed elim­i­nat­ing it.

They also both promised to change the at­mos­phere of par­ti­san­ship and party in­fight­ing which has dom­i­nated the Ge­or­gia leg­is­la­ture over the past two years.

“I’m a per­son that I feel like I can see both sides. I would reach across the aisle and talk with peo­ple and find out what the is­sues are. I think the main thing that we have to find is com­mon­al­ity,” Collins said.

Said Hunt, “As I have been cam­paign­ing, I have been meet­ing more Democrats. Th­ese are peo­ple that I can work with. Our is­sues are too large to fight ei­ther across par­ties or even in­ter­nally.”

Hunt has worked in the cor­po­rate mar­ket­ing sec­tor for the last 20 years in ad­ver­tis­ing and brand man­age­ment for Beatrice Foods, DirecTV and Len­nox In­ter­na­tional. He earned his B.S. in mar­ket­ing from Hamp­ton Uni­ver­sity. Orig­i­nally from Chicago, he and his wife Va­lerie have lived in Snel­lville for the last 10 years. They have one son.

If elected, he said he plans to hold reg­u­lar townhall meet­ings in all ar­eas of District 95, which in­cludes parts of Gwin­nett and Rock­dale coun­ties and north­ern New­ton County.

“I re­late well to white peo­ple, black peo­ple, farm­ers, cor­po­rate types, en­trepreneurs, home­mak­ers, home­own­ers. I re­late well to every­one,” Hunt said.

Collins earned a com­puter en­gi­neer­ing de­gree from Tampa Tech­ni­cal In­sti­tute. He is cur­rently in­volved in the real es­tate busi­ness af­ter pre­vi­ously work­ing as a com­puter en­gi­neer and for a fiber op­tics com­pany. Collins has lived in Rock­dale County for the last nine years. He is sin­gle.

“I re­ally do have a voice for the peo­ple. I think I was raised with hard work val­ues. My faith in God and com­mu­nity is def­i­nitely im­por­tant,” Collins said. “I want to work with the peo­ple that re­ally want to make a dif­fer­ence. I want to have an open door pol­icy.”

HUNT

COLLINS

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