The Flying Machine was the site of local politics at its best as three candidates told the politically active attendees how to cast their votes. Each commented on why he is the best person to lead Gwinnett into the “AIRPORT ERA.” Dacula political newcomer and business leader Mike Korom, former Snellville Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer and incumbent Mike Beaudreau addressed the sizable, informed crowd.
But, before the main event, Rep. Rob Woodall was there giving his town hall meeting pitch. It was the first time I had heard him speak. I clearly understand the saying ”Politicians are all full of hot air” after just 40 minutes of listening to his comments that could have been taken from any dinner party’s conservation of educated voters. I was stunned by his comment, ”Even if we have to deal with another four years of Obama, we can handle it!” His comment was not what a southern Republican wants to hear out of the mouth of her representative.
However his comment, ”As soon as the citizens realize they can vote themselves benefits, our country, our republic, is over,” was indeed confirmation of my belief that we now at that point in our country's history. Once 50 percent of our fellow citizens -- who pay no taxes -- gain control, they will only vote for the candidate who will offer them benefits. The republic fails because it can’t prevail with more takers than givers. Thankfully Woodall was not the main event as we were half asleep with his comments. He looks good. He sounds polished to the general public. He means well. Is that all it takes now days to get elected?
Setting the scene were the republican trio running for the District 3 county commission seat. District 3 is made up of Auburn, Dacula, Lilburn, Lawrenceville, Grayson, Snellville and Stone Mountain as well as other parts of Gwinnett County. The upcoming election has heated up due in part to the airport issue confronting voters.
There are three candidates now battling for the seat. First is Mike Korom, an experienced community leader with years of business success on his resume. He comes into the arena the same way Beaudreau did, as a HOA leader concerned with changes that will affect his community. After investigating and studying the airport issue Korom states he is against the current airport plan.
Secondly is the former mayor of Snellville, Jerry Oberholtzer, an experienced political leader who has a joking nature as well as his mayoral years that gives him plenty of creditability for the job of commissioner. He has directed Snellville's growth and been reelected by his voters. Mayor Jerry has stood both for and then against the airport in the public arena.
Finally, is Commissioner Mike Beaudreau, our reelected commissioner who runs on his conservative record. He has held firm to his expansion of the airport commitment even though the airport expansion is not a popular stand with many in his district. So we have one for the expansion, one against expansion, and one flip-flopping.
Years ago when first meeting ”Baby Mikey,” I was not impressed with his personality, appearance, or his command of the issues. Yet after Thursday night, I can see why many support Beaudreau. He has evolved into a solid politician over his past eight years. He is polished. He is striking in his dark suit, red shirt, and perfect tie. He answers each question with insight and force. He may not be your candidate but you can’t deny that he looks like a politician, talks like a politician, and handles himself like a politician. Even in the very “Beaudreau hostile room" he held up his conservative voting record as reason to put him back in office. He continued to attempt to remove his “arrogant title” with calm and complete answers while many in the place spoke out of turn against him. This man has been in the cooker before and has no regrets and makes no bones about his past decisions. Gotta like a man who sticks to his word even if the public is not seeing it his way.
So there we have it, one for the expansion, one against the expansion and one flip-flopping depending on his audience. Ah, the smell of politics was as thick as Joy’s white gravy smothering the delicious country fried chicken. Each candidate professionally answered the polite questions with barely a rise in their gentlemen voices. Both Oberholtzer and Beaudreau were scoring points over the political newcomer Korom, as their years of political experience, in front of the public, was evident. This was until Korom unleashed his savvy political ability. Of course you don’t get to the top of the chart, as Korom's resume attested to, without knowing your competitor's shortcomings and capitalizing on them.
Enter Korom. Korom, having done his homework, stood up and addressed Mayor Oberholtzer. Reading from an AJC news article in which Mayor Oberholtzer stated that the potential privatization and commercialization of Briscoe Field was a good step for Gwinnett’s future, Korom sent the mayor searching for the correct response to his flip-flopping on the airport issue. Oberholtzer had just minutes earlier told the audience that the airport was a NO for him! Chalk one up for the political newcomer!
As he tried to recover from the savvy newcomer’s political hit, Commissioner Mike Beaudreau began swinging at the bobbing Mayor about his rezoning record. Beaudreau brought up many instances that he felt were questionable. Mayor Oberholtzer then began to swing back at Commissioner Beaudreau for his less than truthful actions he felt needed to be raised for the voting public. The gloves were off! Today in our controlled, contrite, politically correct debates the candidates rarely stray from their talking points. The voting public is tired of politics as usual. We were now seeing each candidate fighting for his name and for your vote.
With the election still months away, it is important that the voters get to know each candidate. This is real life drama, not people eating slugs on a tropical island. This is real life that will affect Gwinnett’s future, not a bachelor who is awestruck by a skinny dipping doofus that will have no effect on your future. This is real politics, with real people, wanting your real vote. They will be debating again in June at the Stars and Strikes on Dacula. Come out for dinner. Listen to their visions of our Gwinnett. Decide whom will get your vote. My vote is still up for grabs. I see good in each candidate at this time. Beaudreau is holding the seat. Oberholtzer is experienced. Korom is ready. Make 2012 the year you become a good citizen instead of a TV Laz!