Crawford, Kelly vie for District 16 seat
by Jason Lowrey
Nov 03, 2012 | 1059 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Incumbent Democrat Rick Crawford, who has sworn to join the Republican party if re-elected, and Trey Kelly, one of the youngest candidates in the state, are running to represent District 16, which includes the southwest corner of Bartow County.

Name: Rick Crawford

Occupation: political science professor — Shorter University

City of residence: Rockmart

Age: 50

Why did you decide to run for this particular race?

A: I have always been involved in church and community activities. For example, I served as president of both the Exchange Club and Kiwanis Club. I was also very active in the chamber of commerce and served for several years on its board as well as serving a term as chairman. When my predecessor announced his retirement, I decided to run for the seat because serving in the legislature would be a natural extension of the years I had already spent working to help the community through other roles and because my experience, including running my own law practice and serving as both a municipal court judge and chief magistrate judge, made me uniquely qualified for it.

If elected, what do you hope to accomplish?

A: What I most hope to accomplish does not focus really on a specific issue but on the process itself, which, in turn, impacts most of the decisions we make. Our political process has become dominated by money, special interest agendas, and winning at all costs. It should not be this way! Our political process should be about honest discussions and working together to find common sense solutions to the issues we face. Unfortunately, this rarely happens anymore because — at least once you get above the local level — there are fewer and fewer people who are willing to take this approach. I have always tried to be the exception to this rule and will continue to do so for so long as I continue to serve.

What is the most pressing issue facing District 16?

A: The most pressing issue facing our area is the economy. The unemployment rate in our area tends to run a bit higher than the state average anyway, so continuing to make progress on attracting more jobs to our area is crucial. Part of the economic development process is — and must continue to be — controlled at the local level. Local officials are the appropriate people to make decisions such as the types of development that are most appropriate for the community, what types of incentives should be offered, whether to construct a speculative building, etc. However, the state also plays a crucial role in the process. For example, state economic development officials help match prospects looking for a place to locate with communities who fit their needs. The state also determines matters of broad economic and tax policy that have a big impact on economic development. For example, this past session I was pleased to support legislation to phase out the sales tax on energy used in manufacturing. This is a crucial step that makes us more competitive with our neighboring states that already have this exemption. Also, I believe the time has come for us to look more closely at how we structure the tax credits we extend for the creation of new jobs. This is especially important for new companies, who often are not profitable at first and thus may not be able to take full advantage of these credits. Finally, we must be sure to take care of our existing industries, as they are always the single best source of new jobs.

Once in office what will be your top priority?

A: I can’t identify what I believe should be just one top priority for the state, as they are all related. Continuing to refine job tax credits as I described above is important, as is continuing to refine and simplify our tax system. Finding ways to continue to improve our education system is vital, not just for its own sake but also for its impact on economic development. Unfortunately, many of the proposals regarding education have the effect of diverting even more funding from our schools, thus increasing the burden on local property owners. Finally, I have been a sponsor of the Human Life Amendment every term I have served in the House and would expect to do so again.

Why are you the best candidate for the position?

A: I believe I am the best candidate for the job largely due to the enormous gap in experience between us. I started and ran my own law practice for almost twenty years; throughout this time I hired employees and made a payroll, so I know what that involves. I served as a municipal court judge and chief magistrate judge. I have been personally involved in the economic development process. I presently work as a political science professor at Shorter University, where I teach courses such as American government, legislative process, and constitutional law. This is not just talk to me. I actually have a record, and it’s a very strong record on the issues that matter. That’s why I am endorsed by organizations like Georgia Right to Life, National Rifle Association, Georgia Carry, and Georgia Association of Educators. Remember, you’re hiring someone to do a job. My experience and qualifications make me a much stronger fit for this job.

You have said you will join the Republican Party if you are re-elected. What led to that decision?

A: My decision to switch to the Republican Party is really quite simple and hardly came as a surprise to anyone who has known me over the years. I first became involved in the Democratic Party almost 30 years ago, back then it was a very comfortable place for people who held traditional beliefs as I do. However, over the years it continued to drift to the left, a process that accelerated especially over the past couple of years or so. This left me in an increasingly strained position, and I invested substantial efforts in trying to move the party back to the right. Meanwhile, I began to think very seriously of switching. When they endorsed same sex marriage in September, I knew the time had come and felt I had no alternative than to switch. The question then became whether to go ahead and announce it or keep it quiet until after the election. So far as I know, everyone who has switched in recent years kept quiet about it until after the election then announced it, and several people encouraged me to do the same. However, I frankly feel that doing it that way is dishonest. I believe the right thing to do is go ahead and let it be known, and — for better or worse — that’s what I did. I have always tried to be as honest and forthright about my beliefs and positions as possible, and this is no exception. I believe I did the right thing for the right reasons, and I am very comfortable with the decision.

Name: Trey Kelley

Occupation: Director of Sales and Marketing for W.C. Brooks Co.

City of residence: Cedartown

Age: 25

Why did you decide to run for this particular race?

A: I wanted to take my experience working with small businesses and the values I’ve learned being raised by two classroom teachers to Atlanta. My experience in business will be a great asset to the legislature as we address the issues key to growing our economy and improving our schools. We need new elected officials with new ideas, and real world experience.

If elected, what do you hope to accomplish?

A: I plan to work for the people of the 16th District. We deserve better jobs, better schools and better representation at the state capitol. I'll take what I’ve learned in business to help our community have the opportunity for a better future.

What is the most pressing issue facing District 16?

A: Talking to Democrat, Independent, and Republican voters throughout the District, the most pressing issues facing our community is our economy and education. We need to bring quality jobs to our area of the state and improve education opportunities for the children of this District.

Once in office, what will be your top priority?

A: We are currently failing nearly a third of our students when they can’t graduate high school. We need to focus on providing better education opportunities for our children and prepare them to become a world-class workforce. Further, we need to ensure that Georgia's economic environment is one that attracts growth and investment, so that new workers have opportunities to succeed.

Why are you the best candidate for the position?

A: I grew up right here in the 16th district. I am a Christian, husband and conservative Republican. We have an important election this November and the future of our nation and community hangs in the balance. The choice is clear and we have the opportunity to elect true conservatives who will fight to our lower taxes, rebuild our economy and improve education. If you elect me, I pledge to do just that.

As one of the youngest candidates to run for office this year, do you believe your youth will influence your job performance, if elected?

A: There are a lot of important decisions ahead of us that will affect the future our state and our community. I want to be at the table when those decisions are made and that the voice of our district is heard. For too long the needs of our District have not been met. Now more than ever, we need new conservative leadership that will work with a fresh perspective and new energy to solve our problems. My age won’t affect my performance, but I will tackle the issues of economy and education with determined energy and a new perspective