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Farm Bureau invites public to meet candidates

COVINGTON — The Newton County Farm Bureau has invited the community to a political meet-and-greet session at its headquarters on May 1 in order for politicians to get to know local voters on a one-on-one basis.

With the primary elections approaching on May 20, state House candidates, District 10 Congressional candidates, county commissioners and other legislators plan to discuss with Newton County voters their ideas and viewpoints at the Farm Bureau’s event.

“The purpose of the event is to allow the citizens to talk to their candidates instead of just listening to them speak on other concerns. This way they can ask them what they want in person,” said Newton County Farm Bureau office manager Crystal Hyatt.

A Republican forum held on April 15 at Turner Lake Park gave conservative representatives a chance to preview their plans before an audience.

Running for State House 112, which covers a portion of eastern Newton County, Dave Belton will be available to speak with the local populace next week. Belton, who served 23 years in the Navy and Air Force, said during the April 15 forum that he identifies himself as a Reagan conservative Christian who flies a $200 million airplane across the globe. Serving as a Morgan County school board member for the past eight years, he supported passage of Caleb’s Law, which bans texting while driving.

He said he believes that urban sprawl, such as the kind that Rockdale County has seen in recent years, would negatively affect the Newton County community.

“We cannot let Conyers happen here in Newton County,” said Belton at the forum. “We cannot let the urban sprawl come here. That’s my biggest goal if I’m elected to this district.”

Although he stated that he is against urban growth, Belton said that he would like to see more technical education opportunities available for Newton County students, potentially preparing them for jobs at the soon-arriving Baxter plant.

Also running for State House 112, Ester Fleming will be present at the May 1 event.

Fleming said at last week’s forum that he believes that President Obama’s policies have taken a toll on the local economy, and affirms that he is against the Affordable Care Act.

“In the next two years, I think we’re going to lose about two and a half million jobs to Obamacare,” said Fleming. “I will support a constitutional amendment to block Obamacare in Georgia.”

He said he also is against expanding Medicaid, which he thinks will cost Georgia taxpayers about $4.5 billion over the next 10 years.

In addition to Belton and Fleming, state House candidates Patsy Harris, Aaron Brooks, Dale Rutledge and Andy Welch are scheduled to attend the Farm Bureau’s gathering.

For Georgia Congressional District 10, Stephen Simpson will be available to speak with voters at the Farm Bureau event. Simpson served 20 years in the Army and is a native of Milledgeville.

“I served 20 years from coast to coast and all over the world in places I can’t pronounce,” he said at the Republican forum.

Simpson said he thinks that national security is currently a pressing issue, and the nation’s reputation is devastated.

“I’m gravely concerned we’re reaching the same level of lack of national security that we had in the Carter years,” he iterated.

Simpson said he believes that the top priority for the country is to have a strong military, but thinks that the environment and education should come secondary, stating that the elimination of the Department of Education, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency could help fund the military. Another one of his plans is to create tax cuts for job creators.

Mike Collins, a Republican from Jackson who started his own business at the age of 25, is also running for Congress and plans to be present on May 1.

“I don’t believe our kids today have the same opportunities that we had when we were their age,” said Collins at the forum. “We’ve got a federal government that’s been out there doing several things … trying to institutionalize and socialize the American public, make everybody dependent on programs, and it seems like now there is a type of program for everybody and everything.”

He opposes regulations on businesses, and said that what separates him from the other candidates is the fact that he owns and operates a business on a daily basis.

Other congressional candidates attending the Farm Bureau’s meet-and-greet will be Donna Sheldon, Gary Gerrard, Jody Hice, David Perdue, Jack Kingston and Branko Randulovacki.

In addition to the senatorial and congressional hopefuls, candidates for the Newton Board of Commissioners, Board of Education, and Christopher Irvin, running for commissioner of agriculture, will be in attendance.

Contending for BOC elections, Rickie Corley and Lanier Sims will be representing District 2, with J.C. Henderson and Sonya Hunte for District 4. Newton BOE Chairwoman Shakila Henderson-Baker will also be at the social. She is running unopposed for BOE District 3.

Homemade strawberry ice cream provided by Mitcham Farms will be served at the event. The Newton County Farm Bureau is located at 10386 Highway 278 East in Covington, and the event will be held from 6 to 8 p.m.