Stokely, Marmon square off to represent part of PTC

Darryl Marmon (L) and Robert Stokely exchange views at forum. Photo/Ben Nelms.

A July 2 forum sponsored by the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce featured Coweta County Solicitor Robert Stokely and attorney Darryl Marmon, both of Sharpsburg and both running for the District 71 seat in the Ga. House of Representatives being vacated by Rep. Billy Horne.

What used to be a House district situated solely in east Coweta, the re-drawn district now includes areas of northwest Peachtree City.

Under the redistricting that occurred in 2011 the re-drawn Georgia House Dist. 71 seat still includes much of east Coweta County, excluding the Senoia area, but now includes a portion of the northwest side of Peachtree City west of Ga. Highway 74, north of Ga. Highway 54 and extending to the Tyrone town limits — mainly the Centennial and Wynnmeade areas.

So what did the two Republican candidates have to say on July 2?

The evening of questions began by asking the candidates’ thoughts on the issues surrounding the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Obamacare health care plan and what it might mean in terms of Georgia Medicaid payments in the future.

“A drunk can’t drink his way sober,” Stokely said in his opening remark. “We’ve got to stop spending money we don’t have.”

“In my opinion (the Supreme Court decision) was very disappointing,” Marmon said, adding that there will be a long-term problem in funding the program while acknowledging that a plan will be needed for those truly in need.

Stokely expanded on his comments saying that government-funded insurance is not needed.

Marmon in citing an example of his previous comment gave the example of a man with cancer who loses his job after 20 years.

“Where will he go to get insurance?” Marmon asked. “We have to look after those people.”

Another question asked what the candidates thought of the upcoming regional transportation (TSPLOST) referendum on July 31 and if they thought it would pass or fail. Coweta County is part of the 10-county Three Rivers Regional Commission area that will be deciding the fate of the 10-year sales tax proposal while Fayette County is part of the 10-county Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) area.

“I’m against it and against raising taxes in the middle of a recession,” said Marmon. “(The Ga. Dept. of Transportation) is a mess the way it’s run and operated.”

As for the chances of it passing voters’ muster, Marmon said he didn’t think TSPLOST would pass in Three Rivers, adding his belief that Fayette County is not always served well by the ARC.

“It’s up to the citizens to choose,” said Marmon while acknowledging the importance of having a transportation plan. “We need a good transportation plan, and that will mean working through disagreements in the legislature.”

For his part, Stokely said he has been against the idea since before the bill passed.

“(It has) $100 million in unfunded liabilities. And there’s no local control like we’ve been force-fed (to think). It’s better for us to spend the dollars in our own pocket to help our local economy. We can spend money better than the government can,” Stokely said.

A follow-up to the TSPLOST question asked candidates how the numerous projects proposed under the TSPLOST could be funded if the July 31 vote fails. Among those were the Amalajack Road interchange, the widening of Lower Fayetteville Road and the widening of Ga. Highway 154.

“Widening means four-lane roads. I don’t think we’ve got that bad a traffic problem,” said Stokely. “We do have a local SPLOST, and we could petition local leaders to re-prioritize those projects.”

Marmon in his response said some projects could be funded locally while others would benefit from having the legislature force DOT to take a new look at local projects.

“On one hand (funding) can be done on the local level. We can no longer petition DOT for funding projects, so the legislature needs to be willing to take on DOT, to get their act straight to begin funding local projects,” Marmon said.

Stokely said some regional TSPLOST projects are not needed, a reality that would save tax dollars that could go to other areas such as job creation.

Another question dealt with what the candidates thought about the tax reform measures instituted by the legislature in the recent session.

“We’re still paying too much in taxes,” Stokely said, adding that more taxes should be cut beyond those included in the reform measures. “Where do the taxes stop?”

Marmon in his response said what is needed is a reform that is genuine and not prohibitive to job growth.

“What we need is genuine reform. And energy is a no-brainer,” Marmon said. “Government needs to get off the backs of job creators. The cumulative effect would be more taxes (paid) from a larger economy.”

Questions aside, what about a closer look at the candidates and the issues they hold significant.

Marmon received a law degree in 1991 and lists his work experience as an accountant and attorney. He has no prior elected experience.

As for the issues, Marmon said those include jobs, education and an ethical, transparent government.

Stokely received a law degree in 1976 and maintained a private law practice from 1991-1996 and has served as Coweta County Solicitor since 1998.

Stokely’s issues include favoring drug testing for elected officials and those receiving public assistance, school choice, increasing HOPE scholarship support by cutting administration salaries, a reduction of college tuition and fees through reining in administrative salaries and budgetary support for the Georgia State Patrol.

Early voting begins July 9 and will be followed by the primary election on July 31.