Ga. Senate District 16 Republican runoff candidate David Studdard responds to questions from The Citizen

David Studdard.

The July 22 Republican runoff election for the Georgia State Senate, District 16 nomination is just two weeks away. To give voters the opportunity to hear from the candidates, The Citizen asked Republican runoff candidates Marty Harbin and David Studdard to respond to seven questions with short answers of 100 words or less to each query.

Below are the questions and the responses from candidate David Studdard.

1. What are your spending priorities for state government? Do they require a tax hike or a tax decrease and explain your justification?

Studdard: I currently have no “spending priorities.” My priority will be to reduce spending where possible.

2. What are your priorities to scale back state government, if any? Please be specific.

Studdard: The state of Georgia should be looking, at least annually, at all programs and spending priorities to insure that we are getting what we, Georgia taxpayers, pay for and that our tax dollars are not being wasted on unnecessary and ineffective programs and projects. I would support cutting any wasteful or unnecessary spending.

Additionally, I would encourage state government to make an assessment of what spending is necessary as opposed to discretionary. All discretionary spending should be subject to the most intense scrutiny by law makers and citizens alike.

3. What lawmaking do you expect to be involved in and what are your legislative priorities for the first session if you are elected?

Studdard: My legislative priorities will be shaped and informed by the people who elect me. I think we could all benefit if our elected officials did more listening and less talking. I intend to engage in a very robust conversation with the people of the 16th District regarding our priorities. My governing philosophy of less government intrusion into our lives and more personal freedom and personal responsibility will continue to guide me and be part of my core efforts.

4. If elected in the fall, if legislation comes up in your current professional field, how will you respond?  Do you intend to serve on any committee regulating or overseeing your profession and if so, how do you justify that?

Studdard: I am a retired Atlanta Police officer turned lawyer. I have no plans or designs to serve on any committee which oversees my current profession.

5. Does the state need an independent ethics commission and how would you fund it to keep it from being controlled or influenced by any elected official?

Studdard: The state needs a completely neutral and detached ethics commission. Any ethics commission needs to be free from influence from not only elected officials but anyone with an economic, personal or political interest in the outcome of any investigation brought before the commission.

Perhaps it should be funded by increasing the fee paid by any person qualifying to run for state office. Or perhaps the salaries of state elected officials could be reduced by a portion, and that portion allotted to fund a state ethics commission.

6. Do you think current open records and open meetings laws are sufficient, need to be expanded to allow more public scrutiny or do they need to be curtailed to decrease public scrutiny. Explain your answer.

Studdard: Open records and open meetings laws are essential to an open and honest government at every level. The problem is not the sufficiency of the current laws; the problem is the flagrant disregard for those laws. Often times, governing entities at all levels, restrict access and even free speech at meetings, otherwise open to the public.

Certainly a balance between an orderly, productive meeting and a display designed to solely disrupt should be struck. However, open records and meeting laws do not exist to protect elected officials, committees and boards from citizens. On the contrary, they are in place to protect us from them.

7. If elected, do you intend to impose term limits on yourself and what would they be? Or do you support a statewide term limits law?

Studdard: Certainly I have an idea of how long I would like to serve as a state senator. That decision rests ultimately with the voters of the 16th district however.

Generally, I would support term limits on legislators. We have created a political class in the United States at both the state and federal level. Many state and federal legislators do a good job and are respectful of their constituents. Others, however, seem to have an attitude of entitlement and arrogance, completely unresponsive to the voters who elected them. To the extent that term limits would change that culture, I’m all for them.

[David Studdard is an attorney with a family law practice in Fayetteville and is a retired police officer with the City of Atlanta. He also previously served in the U.S. Navy. Studdard got his law degree from John Marshall Law School in Atlanta. Studdard previously served as chair of both the Fayette County Republican Party and the Fayette County Board of Elections. Studdard lives in Fayetteville with his wife, Clerk of Court Sheila Studdard. He attends St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church in Fayetteville.]

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