FO­RUM

The Covington News - - News -

of Ed­u­ca­tion in New­ton County, said he thinks there needs to be more “ lo­cal con­trol” over ed­u­ca­tion. He also spoke against rais­ing taxes. “ You can’t tax your­self out of a re­ces­sion. The way that you get out of a re­ces­sion is you pro­vide more money back to the peo­ple that earn it so they can go buy con­sumer goods, which cre­ates jobs, which gets us out of a re­ces­sion,” he said. Only one of the two candidates run­ning for the Ge­or­gia House’s District 95 seat spoke at the fo­rum. Demo­cratic can­di­date Toney Collins re­port­edly briefly dropped by the fo­rum but did not speak, leav­ing his op­po­nent Repub­li­can Erick Hunt to ad­dress the au­di­ence alone. “ The life­style and qual­i­ties that we en­joy in the 95th District are worth pro­tect­ing,” said Hunt, who has a back­ground in the cor­po­rate mar­ket­ing sec­tor. “ We re­al­ize that what we have here is a gem.” Hunt said he sees the state’s three pri­or­ity is­sues as be­ing ed­u­ca­tion, trans­porta­tion and law en­force­ment. “ We have re­sources in our young peo­ple that are just dis­ap­pear­ing. We have a 30 per­cent drop- out rate,” Hunt said. “ If we don’t deal with our young peo­ple … when they are be­ing ed­u­cated, where are they go­ing to end up? The crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem?” Hunt said he would en­cour­age more re­gional bus ser­vices such as the Ge­or­gia Re­gional Trans­porta­tion Au­thor­ity’s Xpress bus ser­vice. He also said he would work to en­sure that all ex­ist­ing state laws deal­ing with il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion are en­forced. Charg­ing that the New­ton County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion is suf­fer­ing from a lack of lead­er­ship, Demo­cratic chal­lenger Ed­die John­son crit­i­cized his op­po­nent District 2 board mem­ber Rickie Cor­ley for not do­ing enough to bring up stu­dent test scores and grad­u­a­tion rates. “ We can­not af­ford four more years of failed lead­er­ship and ero­sion of pub­lic con­fi­dence in New­ton County,” John­son said. “ We have too many stu­dents fail­ing pro­mo­tional re­quire­ments. Half of our stu­dents failed AYP re­sults. We need a fun­da­men­tal change in our ed­u­ca­tional process.” Cor­ley de­fended the work of the BOE in run­ning the county’s pub­lic school sys­tem say­ing, “Our schools are great schools.” He agreed that the “ school sys­tem is not where we want it to be” and said he wants to see more parental in­volve­ment and per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity over the qual­ity of their chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion. “ Ed­u­ca­tion is a work in progress. It is a jour­ney, not a des­ti­na­tion,” Cor­ley said. “ My goal is to pro­vide the best ed­u­ca­tion pos­si­ble for the young peo­ple of this county, one that will al­low each of them to reach their full po­ten­tial.” He also at­trib­uted the school sys­tem’s medi­ocre test re­sults to No Child Left Be­hind, which he said has set un­re­al­is­tic test­ing stan­dards. “ They ex­pect all chil­dren to per­form at the same level, and that’s not go­ing to hap­pen,” Cor­ley said. John­son said he did not think the BOE has done much to en­cour­age parental in­volve­ment, not­ing that very few par­ents at­tend the board’s bi- monthly meet­ings. “ We do not have paren- tal sup­port in the New­ton County School Sys­tem. Just go to the board meet­ings and see how many par­ents show up,” said John­son, who is a bus driver for NCSS. “We’ve got to change the lead­er­ship. Lead­er­ship is the foun­da­tion of this whole foun­da­tion.” Ni­cholas Day, the Demo­cratic can­di­date for tax com­mis­sioner, frankly ad­mit­ted that the rea­son he de­cided to run was be­cause he wanted to see all school prop­erty taxes elim­i­nated for se­nior cit­i­zens, even though the tax com­mis­sioner does not have the au­thor­ity to put a tax ref­er­en­dum on the bal­lot. That au­thor­ity lies with the Board of Com­mis­sion­ers. “ I know that’s not the job of the tax com­mis­sioner, but that is the job of the in­di­vid­ual that wants to say and that needs to be done,” Day said. “ I’m not there to blindly take your money and look away.” Day noted that DeKalb, Ful­ton and Clay­ton coun­ties have al­ready ex­empted se­niors from pay­ing school prop­erty taxes. Repub­li­can in­cum­bent Bar­bara Din­gler, who has been the county’s tax com­mis­sioner for the past nine years, said she has worked to bring credit and debit card pay­ments back to the Tax Com­mis­sioner’s Of­fice and has also in­sti­tuted on­line car regis­tra­tion of ve­hi­cles and on­line prop­erty tax pay­ments and brought the fil­ing of homestead ex­emp­tions back to her of­fice. “I have worked within my yearly bud­get. I have 15 ded­i­cated em­ploy­ees that will go above and be­yond the call of duty,” Din­gler said. “As your tax com­mis­sioner, I will con­tinue to up­date any­thing that’s pos­si­ble to bet­ter ser­vice the cit­i­zens of New­ton County.”

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