The 2018 statewide election for Georgia is now officially over (thank goodness).
As expected, Republicans continue to hold every statewide office although each race was technically close as Democrats try to inch closer to breaking the red stranglehold on state politics.
Georgia, like our country as a whole, remains politically divided and it seems that will only continue and may actually get worse before things get better.
As a lifelong resident of this state as well as a taxpayer, property owner and someone who wants Georgia to thrive in all ways, I decided to compile a list of things which I would like to see happen in the next four years. There is always hope I suppose but in reality, I am not holding my breath.
•A complete overhaul of our tax system is needed immediately. It’s simple really. Eliminate the state income tax and go with a consumption type sales tax. Allowing Georgians to keep more of the money they earn will do nothing but boost the economy. Other states have gone this route but have you noticed it is never even discussed here. Republicans claim to be against taxes so it is time to back up that claim. (Those of us who reside in the land of reality know Republicans are no more against taxes than Democrats.)
•Care for veterans continues to be an issue for our state and country. Hopefully Gov.-elect Brian Kemp will make this one of his priorities during the next four years. It’s not just more and better medical care that is needed for our veterans. Mental health assistance is desperately needed as many suffer from PTSD. Often it goes untreated for years, leading to a multitude of issues for the veterans themselves, their family members and the people they know. It is outright criminal that anyone who has served this country has to struggle for the care they need and deserve.
•There is certainly nothing wrong with trying to attract large companies to our state. Georgia has a diverse population and despite what some politicians try to convince us, more jobs are always needed. Good-paying jobs are certainly needed for our state. However, why do officials insist on giving companies such sweetheart deals and tax breaks before they even arrive in the state? A better route would be to give businesses already here tax incentives for what they have already contributed to our state’s economy and work force. Smaller businesses certainly need more incentives in the tax department.
•Our secretary of state office needs to become a nonpartisan one immediately. While there are many duties Georgia’s secretary of state performs, overseeing elections is a huge part of this office. Even for appearance’s sake, the person in this position does not need to be associated with a political party. And if the current occupier of the secretary of state’s office decides to run for another office, they should have to resign immediately. This should really be common sense when it comes to having fair and open elections. Also on the voting front, the state needs to return to a form of voting in which a paper trail is present in terms of counting election results. The out-of-date voting machines in use since the early 2000s have never been proven to be effective. It also has been proven (multiple times) that they can be hacked into. Georgians were handed a fake bill of goods with the voting machines and as close and contested as some races have been since they have been used, it is time to send them on a one-way trip to the landfill.
•Continuing on the political front, a revamping of our state’s ballot access laws is also needed. I have never understood why there are some who think having more choices is a bad thing. We want multiple choices when we buy a car, buy a house or buy groceries. Why should we not want several choices when we vote in general elections? When Brian Kemp was running for secretary of state, he talked of making it easier for third parties to gain ballot access. As it turned out, he fought third parties and independent candidates at every turn. This is another reason the secretary of state’s office needs to be a non-partisan one. Other states are light years ahead of Georgia in this area and it is going to take a lot of work for us to catch up. However, Republicans and Democrats in our state don’t want voters to have more choices for fear it would end their power. It’s as simple as that and no amount of political speak or spin make it any different.
Winder resident Chris Bridges is a former editor of the Barrow News-Journal and has earned awards for column writing from the Georgia Press Association, the Georgia Sports Writers Association and the National Newspaper Association. He welcomes about this column at firstname.lastname@example.org.