Beaudreau vs. Hunter: Who Will Get Your Vote?
The Gwinnett County District 3 commission race will be decided during the Aug. 21 runoff.
With 47 percent of the vote, incumbent Mike Beaudreau fell short in his bid to win the Gwinnett County District 3 commission race outright. Beaudreau will now face second place finisher Tommy Hunter in the Aug. 21 runoff.
In June, Dacula Patch asked each of the candidates in the race for District 3 to answer several questions regarding their political views and goals. Here, in their entirety, are the answers provided by Beaudreau and Hunter:
Beaudreau: When the new Board of Commissioners is sworn in in January, at least four of the five seats will be held by individuals with a maximum of two years in county government. I decided to run for a third and final term because I believe the experience I bring to the Board will be useful as we work to rebuild from the damage caused by the recession and from the loss of trust due to the actions of former commissioners.
Hunter: I believe that government's role is to serve the people. I believe government must be less involved in the lives of people in the course of business. I feel these views have slowly, over time, eroded in the minds of those seeking public office and I want to re-introduce it to the County Commission. I want to use my experience from working in the county government to help people understand how their government works. For too long I feel representatives have kept those they represent in the dark when it comes to how and why decisions are made. My experience has taught me how to involve the people in the decision making process, paving the way to increasing the citizens' trust in their elected representatives.
Beaudreau: My top priority is to promote economic development and job growth. The recent downturn dealt a major blow to the county’s economy, from which we have not fully recovered. The loss of jobs has meant that homeowners now make up too high a portion of the county’s tax base.
By bringing in more companies with high paying jobs, we can broaden the tax base and make way for reduced taxes.
Hunter: My top priority will be addressing the issues which will affect the well being of our residents for years to come. A major issue is our source of drinking water. Currently we have redundant systems for the treatment and distribution of drinking water, but only a single source under the control of the Federal government and challenged by our downstream neighbors. In 2008, I was part of the County's Reservoir Study Committee. We used the opportunity of this committee to look at options for diversifying the County's water source and looked for ways to produce supplemental water sources to guard against future droughts and to supplement our withdrawals from Lake Lanier. We produced a report with several options--not nailing down any particular one--for County planners to look at. I believe that all possibilities should be looked at before any are discounted. To my knowledge, that report has never been acted upon, and it is time we have someone on the commission that understands the importance of a secure water source and will get the process moving now, before it is too late.
Beaudreau: A proposal to build a casino with video lottery terminals at the OFS site has been floated by a developer. At this point, it is too early to tell if this proposal makes sense for the county. As with the recent airport proposal, we have to approach decisions of this magnitude with caution and discretion. Sometimes, what sounds good at the beginning may not look as attractive when the full research is completed. I will keep an open mind, and if it is presented to the Board of Commissioners, I will decide yes or no based on the merits of the formal proposal.
Hunter: I am still trying to decide how I feel about this opportunity. Though I am well aware you cannot legislate values or morality--nor should in a free society--I am personally, through my faith, opposed to legalized gambling. At the same time I am a constitutionalist conservative and do not believe in using the power of government to limit people to my way of believing, feeling, or living--so long as it does not encroach upon another's right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I say all that to say, that if shown to be a benefit to our community, I would support the people's wishes.
4.) Do you think it is appropriate to include the county garbage fee on the county tax bill? Would you support efforts to return the power to negotiate contracts with trash haulers back to the citizens? Why or why not?
Beaudreau: The county’s current contracts with the waste haulers are in effect for the next six years. Any candidate that is promising to cancel or return to the old system within our term as Commissioner is not being truthful with the people. Canceling these contracts to allow residents to select their own hauler would subject the county to likely penalties and lawsuits, which I could not support. As a result, decisions regarding modifications will be made at least four years from now, after my final term on the Board would end.
Since the Board approved the current waste collection system, haulers have reported a tremendous increase in the amount of recycling. In addition, the amount of waste collected has also increased. That is resulted in our Commercial property owners seeing a decrease in the amount of illegally dumped waste in their dumpsters as well as a decrease in the amount of waste found along our streets.
The Board recently modified the waste ordinance to provide for a rate reduction for senior citizens, and a method of waiving the fee for certain unoccupied houses. Our internal surveys show the vast majority of residents are satisfied with the current system.
Hunter: Absolutely not. I would support any effort to return to the citizens the power to choose who they do business with. As a matter of fact, I do not believe government has the right to interfere with the citizens' right to choose who they do business with for any reason. A free society and a free market comes with risks and inconveniences -- including more than one garbage company operating trucks in a neighborhood.
Beaudreau: The reduction in property tax revenues due to the recession has forced the Board of Commissioners to make some difficult decisions to reduce services. In 2009, a citizen’s committee met for six months to study possible service consolidations and reductions, and released the Engage Gwinnett report. The Board has implemented most of their suggestions, and is working on ways to implement the remaining ones.
I believe the county has made all the easy cuts available, and many painful ones. Further reductions in services will have a big impact on the quality of life we enjoy. That’s why I believe we must focus our efforts on increasing the commercial tax base in order to avoid further service reductions.
Hunter: I have several ideas and would weigh them against the question--is this absolutely essential to the safety and well being of our citizens. I believe that the "needs" must be paid for first, and as efficiently as possible, before "wants" are even considered---just as how every household in Gwinnett County has to operate. Anything not a "need" is subject to scaling back or elimination. Even areas of those services deemed absolutely necessary can be operated more efficiently. The citizens of Gwinnett County have had to roll up their sleeves and do "more with less", certainly the government that the citizens hard work supports can do the same.
Beaudreau: Since the grand jury report following the indictment of one former Commissioner and the resignation of another, I pushed for—and the Board has adopted—a new ethics ordinance and a revised procedure for property purchases. These changes have given Gwinnett some of the strongest ethics policies of any county in the state.
In the same way you can’t prevent a determined dog from jumping or digging its way out of his fenced-in yard, you can’t prevent a corrupt politician from being corrupt. The county’s new ethics rules and other laws provide a strong deterrent to unethical behavior. I do not see how additional changes would provide any meaningful deterrent to someone intent on breaking the law.
Hunter: Engage the citizens and keep them involved. Engaged citizens are knowledgeable citizens who demand accountability and transparency. Accountability and transparency keeps issues on the forefront and harder to hide what is going on behind closed doors. This is a two-way street. I will offer to be available and willing to answer questions, and the citizens must be involved and demand that I do so.
Beaudreau: The three biggest issues facing the county over the next ten years are the water supply, the economy and the lack of trust in government at all levels.
Although the 11th circuit court overruled the draconian decision by Judge Magnuson that would have resulted in the virtual elimination of Lake Lanier as the county’s water supply, it also ordered further studies on the authority of the Corps of Engineers to regulate the drinking water supply from the lake. These studies, plus the possibility of additional litigation pose a threat to the county’s water supply.
The county has been proactive in encouraging water conservation and being good stewards of the water in Lake Lanier. We must continue our efforts to ensure the use of the lake as our drinking water source.
The economy continues to be an issue, both at a local and national level. If there is a silver lining for the county, it’s that we’ve managed to have the lowest unemployment rate of the core metro counties for the last three years. Fortune 500 company NCR relocated to Duluth in the middle of the recession. The county managed to keep its triple-triple A bond rating even as our nation’s credit rating was reduced.
All of this was made possible by the efforts of the county and our partners, including Partnership Gwinnett, the Community Improvement Districts, and our cities. We must continue to be proactive in bringing high-paying jobs to the county and fostering an environment that supports entrepreneurialism.
The citizens’ trust in government is at an all-time low. At the county level, we’ve had the resignation of three commissioners over the last two years. At the state legislature, there is an ongoing discussion over lobbyist gifts and expense report improprieties. Nationally, only 15% approve of the job Congress is doing.
Part of this is undoubtedly due to the strain people are going through as a result of the economy. Another part is due to the class warfare policies adopted by the current President and the debate over the role of government that frames the 2012 elections.
I am a small government conservative who has never voted to raise your taxes. I’ve never taken a campaign contribution from a developer. I’ve voted against spending county money on things that I believe are not a proper function of the government. The only way that trust in government will improve is if the people believe that their elected representatives are acting responsibly and ethically. I am doing my best to answer their call.
Hunter: The declining value of property and the lack of jobs and new business; our transportation system and the ability to move people and commerce effectively; and our limitations in our ability to guarantee plentiful water for people and business.
For more information about Mike Beaudreau:
For more information about Tommy Hunter:
You might also be interested in reading:
- Candidates Square off at Dacula Forum
- Sparks Begin to Fly in Race for District 3
- Dacula Resident Seeking District 3 Commission Post
- Hunter: Gwinnett County Government Needs Change in Culture
- Beaudreau to Seek Reelection
- Oberholtzer Promises to Offer Real Solutions