Wanting my vote to produce an awesome District 3 Commissioner, I decided I needed more information about each candidate. A debate was my answer. Weeks of emails and phone calls produced the “2012 YOUR VOTE COUNTS!” Dinner Debate held at Stars and Strikes in Dacula. Decked in patriotic colors, voter registration forms at the door, attended by active citizens, supportive family, and staff members, the debate produced an evening of composed yet, gut rumbling answers by the candidates. Listening to each candidate from beginning to end, I offer the following review.
First, there are four distinct men with four very different personalities competing for your vote. Each man is different in how he believes our county should be run. Each man displayed his strengths and political weaknesses for those in attendance. Each of the four candidates brings to the table a very different agenda of how he would govern, if elected for the job.
There is no question that each of these men has totally different personalities. While all republicans, they each hold to a different view on how a commissioner should make a decision. They each differ in the way citizen’s views should be considered. After speaking, with many who attended the debate, about whom they thought “won” or “lost” the debate, I offer the following for your consideration. My take away from this debate was aligned in the same fashion as those I spoke with but not in all areas.
First, this debate was more fitting of an educated voter than the last debate. The moderator, JD Brandon, was neither for nor against any candidate which produced a more balanced debate. Second, candidates were able to supply a 3-5 minute video displaying their views of the job ahead. Third, each candidate was able to ask the other candidates his own questions to gain positional strength or to expose a perceived weaknesses in their opponents. A fiery, yet controlled, exchange of answers befitting mature adults ensued. Here are the results according to those polled.
First, while negative politics may propel a new candidate forward and make for fiery headlines, those in attendance did not see it as a leadership quality. Most found the negativism to be an unnecessary factor by those whom used it. Mike Korom, Dacula’s experienced community leader and newcomer to county politics, was perceived as a “negative candidate.” Whether speaking about a bad 7-year-old employment review of candidate Hunter or Beaudreau’s past stand on the airport, his negativity was not well received. Even though his points were true, those questioned felt like he only showed one side of himself and they were looking for a more faceted candidate. His bright spot of the evening was his powerful and persuasive video that far eclipsed his fellow competitor’s video. This video showed a man that understands the need for change. In his fiery desire to bring honor and honesty back to our commission office, his video was strong and showed a strong well-spoken candidate. Positive - his fiery desire to change the status quo as many citizens agree. Negative - his brashness during the debate.
Second, if you are looking for on the job experience with a history of making hard and unpopular decisions, then Mike Beaudreau is your man. He is by far the most polished, informed, and articulate of the four men. He offers no apologies for his past votes. He knows his material. He strongly believes his past 8 years, in the trenches, will provide the necessary leadership our county needs with the important issues ahead. As for the negative side of Beaudreau, for those who believe. “Birds of a Feather Flock Together” when it come to politics, he cannot remove himself from his explosive past that some voters see as career ending. He served with a batch that have been accused and convicted of illegal actions. For me, I am concerned that we may put him back in office only to hear more from the grand jury. Once again we may have to spend money on trials instead of our county’s needs. Beaudreau offers that his record shows that he did not vote for the fellow commissioners that have fallen in disgrace. “ I agree with the public and I did not vote for the now damaged commissioners. I do not get to choose whom I serve with,” Beaudreau states. Many still worry that a vote for Beaudreau would be a wasted vote. Only time will tell the end of this story. Positive - his years of experience. Negative - the citizens he has offended over the years.
The third candidate is Jerry Oberholtzer, past Snellville city council member and two-term mayor of Snellville. His own policy of term limits in Snellville has, in essence, removed him from serving the citizens of Snellville. He brings years of experience to the office. If you are not involved in politics, you may not understand how our local cities can be left out of revenue sharing in some county decisions. Oberholtzer, along with the other Gwinnett city mayors, has been fighting Gwinnett County government for double taxing citizens for services, for years. He has years of executive experience. His own citizens voted for him term after term. He understands the history and problems of Gwinnett County from the inside as a former mayor. The general feel was, “I know he feel favorably towards Snellville but what about the rest of the citizens of Gwinnett? Some feel he is connected to the old guard. He feels like the trusted father of a friend. Positive - His years of experience. Negative - Unknown outside of Snellville.
Our final candidate is Tommy Hunter. Mr. Hunter has been employed with the county for years. He has a qualified understanding of our water issues. He understands the current and upcoming storm water issues. Many believe Gwinnett will be well served with knowledge and experience in the water department. He does not have any elected experience. He is knowledgeable of zoning due to also being a realtor. Like it or not, years ago, he did indeed receive a dressing down from his superiors. There were two trains of thought in reference to this information outed by Korom. One is -- surely he has grown in eight years! Second is that the items mentioned go towards his personal work ethic. Moving on, Tommy has been employed with the county for years. He has an understanding of the current conditions and the county’s upcoming needs. He has a background many believe will serve Gwinnett well. He spoke with meaning and heart. He reminds you of an uncle everyone likes and respects. Positive - he has experience working with the counties issues. Negative - his work ethic is in question.
So, there you have it, four men wanting my vote and your vote. If you were there, how did you see it? If you were there, did any of the candidates garner your vote that night? If so, why? If not, why not? This election is right around the corner, are you ready? What do you still have to hear from the candidates before Korom, Beaudreau, Oberholtzer, or Hunter will get your vote?