Candidates Square off at Dacula Forum

Mike Beaudreau, Jerry Oberholtzer, Mike Korom and Tommy Hunter attempt to win over voters during two-hour question and answer session.

Being the incumbent can be tough.

After eight years as the District 3 Gwinnett County Commissioner, incumbent Mike Beaudreau has made a number of decisions which challengers Jerry Oberholtzer, Tommy Hunter and Mike Korom were eager to question during a June 14 candidate forum at .

Each candidate was given the opportunity to ask two questions of another candidate. Five of the six questions asked by Hunter, Korom and Oberholtzer were directed at Beaudreau -- most calling the incumbent’s bona fides as a fiscal conservative into question.

Hunter asked how Beaudreau could support the county trash plan based on conservative principles.

“How do you rectify in your mind taking away the right of the residents to choose who they do business with even though we have ordinances that prohibit illegal dumping that could’ve been enforced, and then increasing the bureaucracy in the county by forming a new division and new -- I guess you call it -- revenue streams?” Hunter asked.

, Beaudreau defended his decision.

“What you had in the previous system, frankly, was socialism,” he said.

Beaudreau explained that when someone dumped trash under the old system, the taxpayers were required to foot the cost of cleanup and the person doing the dumping was receiving services for which they had not paid.

Citing increased recycling by residents and his belief the state will eventually mandate a similar system, Beaudreau called the decision to implement the trash plan a mature one.

“It was absolutely the right thing to do,” Beaudreau said.

Korom not only questioned Beaudreau’s vote regarding the trash plan, but also asked if he stood by his decisions regarding Coolray Field, the and the .

Claiming that is now making money, Beaudreau said the Lawrenceville baseball stadium is “not the financial disaster that some have predicted.”

Without addressing the other issues specifically, Beaudreau said the county needed to look ahead.

“This county can get caught up in decisions of the past and point fingers and continue to go down that road or we can move forward,” he said. “And I think the community is tired of the nitpicking and the finger-pointing about these issues.”

Beaudreau added that he has “eight years of making difficult decisions” whereas his challengers have not.

“Anybody can throw rocks from the outside and say ‘I would’ve done it differently’,” he said.

Calling his experience as a commissioner irreplaceable, Beaudreau emphasized he was ready to put past issues to rest. 

If having his conservative principles challenged wasn’t difficult enough, two of the candidates also questioned Beaudreau’s ethics.

Korom asked Beaudreau why he had accepted a $1,000 campaign donation from Gary’s Grading when he had vowed not to take any money from developers. Beaudreau denied Korom’s assertion that the company does development work.

“A grading company is not a developer pure and simple,” Beaudreau explained.

He said there is not a single developer on his campaign disclosure statements.

While Beaudreau was able to easily answer that question, he appeared to struggle with one asked by Oberholtzer.

“Commissioner Beaudreau, you accepted $11,100 in campaign contributions from the Johnson family … all owners and officers of the Southeast Culvert Company. Southeast Culvert sells water and sewer pipe to Gwinnett County. You voted to approve the contract. How do you explain the obvious conflict? Oberholtzer asked.

“I can’t at all espouse the accuracy of what he just said,” Beaudreau replied. “Southeastern Culvert provides pipe to folks all over the southeast. They’re one of the leading culvert companies in the country. Again, if you look at my disclosure, I’m extremely proud of the fact that we have over 100 donors, all different backgrounds, anywhere from firefighters to teachers to retired professors to engineers and Jerry, the issue goes a lot deeper that that because again, when you’re talking about contributions to campaigns, you also have to take a look at your tax record and you’ve raised taxes in one swoop 44 percent in the City of Snellville. There’s no denying that.”

Beaudreau touted his own record of “making difficult decisions,” but did not return to Oberholtzer’s original question during the two-minute period allocated for his response. He instead discussed his family, his reason for living in Gwinnett County and his reason for seeking office.

“It’s a calling,” he explained.

Though he fielded many more questions than he asked, Beaudreau did get the chance to quiz Oberholtzer further regarding Snellville’s tax increase. Oberholtzer explained it was not a tax increase, but was instead a millage rate increase.

“When your tax digest goes down 35 percent and you raise the millage rate 25 percent, it’s a tax decrease for most people,” he explained.

Oberholtzer then went on the offensive saying Beaudreau had increased taxes for Snellville residents by double-taxing them for eight years.

“You refused to settle the service delivery [dispute]. You made citizens in the cities with police pay double for it and, when it came time to settle it, you stopped it,” Oberholtzer claimed.

Oberholtzer said the SDS could’ve been settled in 2010, but Beaudreau voted against the proposed settlement. Oberholtzer also raised the issue of Beaudreau’s voting record on certain Gwinnett County land acquisitions.

“You were the second vote in all these land deals [Kevin] Kennerly got indicted for,” Oberholtzer said.

Oberholtzer concluded his response by saying he was very proud of what he accomplished in Snellville.

As part of the two-hour forum hosted by the Dacula Memorial Day Queens, the candidates were asked several questions by debate moderator J.D. Brandon and were also given the opportunity to make closing statements.

Korom used his closing statement to explain that he would bring a fresh start to Gwinnett.

“I am truly the only one wholly and genuinely untarnished by the culture of corruption that has identified our county commission,” he said. “I am the only one who can steer us past the bickering and infighting, the backroom deals and the favoritism.”

Hunter vowed to work hard and make the people of District 3 proud.

“I will get up every day with your best interests at heart,” he said. “I’ll work hard to do the best I can.”

Though he already has years of public service to his credit, Oberholtzer said the service delivery dispute made him realize there was still work he could do.

“I’m very proud of what I did in Snellville and I believe with leadership like myself working with Jimmy Wilbanks and the other mayors, we can make Gwinnett great again,” he said. “We’ve got serious problems we’ve got to address. I’m not perfect, but I’ll tell you every day I will work for you.”

Beaudreau also promised to work for his constituents and called himself the most qualified for the job.

“We’re going through our struggles like the rest of the country, “ he said. “But if you’re willing to consider giving me four more years, I will work the very hardest that I can.”

Beaudreau, Oberholtzer, Hunter and Korom are all running as Republicans. Since there are no Democrats running, the race for the Gwinnett County District 3 commission seat will be decided during the primary. The general primary/nonpartisan election will be held on July 31. The runoff, if necessary, will be held on Aug. 21. The .

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J. Morley June 19, 2012 at 01:25 AM
@ Floyd. Twist and turn all you want. Your boy is in trouble, and every time you defend him it makes it that much more reidulous. I kind of like that name 747 too. Also just so we are clear everything I threw out here was fact. Ask him if he ever sadi the new trash plan was un American. Ask him if he's scared too. Remember what I told you. You are who you hang with. All I can tell you is perseption of him isnt very good, and he knows it. It stunk with polution all around him and he never seen a thing................................. Bannister, kenerly, lassiter, and we can all hope that Boot Dreau will be the next one to go! Tommy Hunter for district 3 commissioner!
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew June 19, 2012 at 02:23 AM
Yes it sure was - both truly enlghtening and scary at the same time ...
Floyd Akridge June 19, 2012 at 02:35 AM
Thanks A.P. I appreciate your honest opinion. I went to the debate to support the guy I'm voting for. He's given me no reason to vote for anyone else. Thanks for the post!
Floyd Akridge June 19, 2012 at 02:36 AM
@ J. Morley...you're doing it to yourself dude..."Also just so we are clear everything I threw out here was fact." Sorry J...but this is SIMPLY NOT TRUE. In a blantent attempt to pile onto the airport issue and try to spin your guy's way out of what he said, you equated 747's and Briscoe. I'm sorry J but obviously NOT everything you have said here was true. You are right...who you hang with does have influence. Hunter should drop you.
Floyd Akridge June 19, 2012 at 02:44 AM
R...failure alert..."That's desperation, with a side of arrogance". Now you can believe he was talking about some random person crusing the streets and randomly putting out Beaudreau signs but the pile on at the end of the post makes it clear who he was referring to. You lose...seems to be a pattern.
Floyd Akridge June 19, 2012 at 02:46 AM
Tim...isn't that funny how people here are trying to attach Bannister to Commissioner Beaudreau when you have Heard who obviously is and I suspect Bill McKinney as well.
Floyd Akridge June 19, 2012 at 02:49 AM
Ahhh...so you did. Actually I'm wearing glasses...perhaps I should take them off. Point is granted. on another point, look how the founders created the legislature...one half elected every 2 years in entirety...the other half elected in shifts. Both are needed.
Floyd Akridge June 19, 2012 at 02:51 AM
Not really
J. Morley June 19, 2012 at 02:52 AM
I dont have to justify anything about planes..LOL Thats about all you have to roll with then you keep plugging it. I have no reason to lie or strtech the truth. Like I said I stated facts, and you know that they're true. I also know that you dont have to worry about what I think either. I'm just one voter, but it's the majority that your friend is in trouble with. Let me ask you this. Do you honestly think that Beadreau is safe? Do you really see no damage to him after what has went on in the county commission? Do you see any backlash with the way he handled the airport? Do you see it as a negative that he pushed the garbage plan? Seriously? Come on you and your buddy have to see a up hill climb? Then he proposes to raise the sales tax, Oh wait I know he wants the voters to decide that issue.......... Honestly he's in bad shape. Now he's telling everyone he just needs one more term and he'll be done! Hunter should drop me? If he should drop me then Bootdreau should drop you as well, because me and you are doing the same thing. Sticking up for our guy!
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew June 19, 2012 at 02:56 AM
WRONG... Guess again! For a guy who goes by EXACTLY by what is said / typed ( repeatedly) you blew it by misinterperting what he meant, maybe Dacula Weather is correct - you may need YOUR glasses .... Wow and after all that about "correcting your errors when they are pointed out to you" too... All and all, its just another brick in The Wall... But we love ya anyway.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew June 19, 2012 at 03:05 AM
PS UNLESS "Pink" Floyd. you REALLY see YOUR man described in the text as you do...
Kristi Reed (Editor) June 19, 2012 at 12:34 PM
The audio from the debate is now posted (except for the tree question for those of you who were there and know what I mean): http://dacula.patch.com/articles/audio-listen-to-the-district-3-candidates-answer-questions-at-forum
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew June 19, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Good Audio clips
Floyd Akridge June 19, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Okay...I'm embarassed to ask but what is the tree question...me and my bald spot were there and dunno (or worse yet...I did remember and don't now) FB message me if it's something that can't be put here. Thanks
Kristi Reed (Editor) June 19, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Hi Floyd - The moderator asked the candidates something like "If you were a tree, what would you be?" As I recall, Beaudreau said palm, Hunter said cottonwood, Korom said he would be a pine and Oberholtzer said oak.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew June 19, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Now THAT's an example of comprehensive reporting … ( smiles)
Kristi Reed (Editor) June 19, 2012 at 04:39 PM
I aim to please ;) I have never heard a question like that asked at a forum before. It caught me a bit off guard. I probably should've recorded it. A couple of the explanations were ... interesting.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew June 19, 2012 at 05:36 PM
The headline … It’s a MAJOR scandal - All candidates running for the district 3 commissioner seat freely admit to being “Future” Deadwood! (Oh that’s right - this isn’t the AJC is it? Oops! Smiles... all in jest folks)
Floyd Akridge June 19, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Okay Kristi...I don't feel that bad...I remembered that one. How could I forget...sheeze. IF they are trees...no wonder they call it the BOARD of commissioners. Finally I understand!
Floyd Akridge June 19, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Nailed that one! <sorry...trying to hold back> Tongue-in-groove...er I mean cheek.
Floyd Akridge June 19, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Nice one R.
Tim Sullivan June 19, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Yes, yes Floyd it surly is.
Michelle Couch June 19, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Patch really needs a spell check...LOL Okay, just thought after reading all this, I would lighten it up a bit :)
Kristi Reed (Editor) June 19, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Hi Michelle - Are you talking about the comments? I don't know about other browsers, but in Chrome you can right-click and run a spell checker. That said, if you read all these comments, you have been reading quite a while! This has been a very lively debate.
Kristi Reed (Editor) June 19, 2012 at 07:57 PM
I will admit I was sitting there trying to figure out how I would answer that question. One of the candidates actually named a tree I really like. Two named trees I dislike and one named a tree that I never would have picked had I been answering that question. Maybe their answers said more than I initially realized...
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew June 19, 2012 at 08:40 PM
@ Michelle - Welcome Aboard! Stay awhile We're all really harmless, but Kristi will keep you "safe" if we extend the "spin cycle" too long...
Cynthia Montgomery June 27, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Good Evening! Between real estate & Miss Stars and Strikes Pageant, I have been SO busy & not able to get on the PATCH! :( First, I would like to say," thank you!" to each of you that came out for the debate. G-Men, thank you for your kind comments on the quality of the debate. I want to have our youth exposed to the political side of life. They welcomed visitors, ran the voter registration table, worked the lights, and read over the questions from the public. I believe they got a good dose of local politics. I came away with a strong feeling about each man. I have posted it in my blog on the event, (put FINGER FLYING- CROWNS CARING, in the little looking glass to read about it). I think it is down to a two man race. I think two men & my husband though two other men. HOW CAN THAT BE? We each come from a different experience. Therefore, we each see these candidates in a different light. If you believe in second chances - Mike B is your man. If you want to clean house with brashness - Mike K is your man. If you want an experienced executive that was put back in office over & over, Mayor Jerry is your man. If you want an experienced government employee with smarts - then Tommy is your man. If you want to make a difference in your world then talk about politics in more venues than just the PATCH. Talk about politics at the ball field, the dentist, in line at the store, at the pool, at work, attending church, at the HOA meeting, in the hood! EDUCATE YOURSELF AND VOTE!
Tim Sullivan June 27, 2012 at 02:03 AM
Amen Sister! It was a great event! While I have my chioce and others have theirs and we don't agree but it is good to see folks Care, whatever their choice. It is so much better than appathy!
Tim Sullivan June 27, 2012 at 02:04 AM
PS My guy will win!
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew June 27, 2012 at 02:15 AM
Well he just might or might not... (Smiles) BUT it’s been a good “schoolin” for all involved not the least of which is the voter... Here's to a better turnout than 2008! And maybe NEXT year, whoever wins could recommend the podium speakers at the monthly BOC meetings could get a little more than three minutes. NOT all citizens are polished public speakers.


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