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Cumming tea party debate draws 3 hopefuls

POSTED: June 29, 2010 2:55 p.m.

Members of several North Georgia tea party organizations attended a gubernatorial forum Saturday at the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce.

Of seven candidates invited to the debate, sponsored by the State of Georgia Tea Party, Republicans Jeff Chapman and Ray McBerry and Libertarian John Monds attended.

Organizer Bill Evelyn said he arranged the event for a specific reason.

“We need at the state level a strong Constitutional conservative to protect us from the overreach that the federal government has grown into,” he said. “If you look at the Constitution, the people who have the greatest dominion over our health and welfare is the state legislature and then governor.”

Candidates Nathan Deal, Karen Handel, Eric Johnson and John Oxendine did not attend, though Johnson did speak Thursday night at a Forsyth County Tea Party function.

The seven Democratic candidates in the July 20 primary were not invited.

Chapman, McBerry and Monds answered several pre-selected questions from the state organization plus others from the crowd.

Candidates were asked to give their thoughts on federalism, education and the federal government’s involvement in state issues, among other topics.

McBerry said he supports arresting illegal immigrants, calling their presence in the United States “an act of war,” and said as governor he would aggressively help sheriffs of every county arrest and detain them.

“If the feds do not do their job and come pick them up within 48 hours I will assist your sheriff by sending, if necessary, big yellow buses to come pick them up, get them out of your county and off your tax roll and get them out of your state,” McBerry said.

“Even if that means dropping them off at the gates of the White House.”

Taking a different approach, Chapman said people will stop coming into the country illegally if they can’t find jobs.

“I say that the appropriate course of action is to deal with the legal citizens who are breaking the law -- the business owners, the companies and individuals that are hiring them,” he said.

“We have businesses that are hiring these people, individuals. It’s almost like drugs. As long as somebody’s willing to buy it, somebody’s willing to take a risk to sell it.”

Monds said he doesn’t think arresting illegal immigrants is a solution.

“I think you should address any mandates saying you have to pay for services,” he said. “Those that come here that are not productive that just want to soak up services, I think that is a crime.

"Having somebody come here who just wants to work, I don’t see that as a crime. If we take away their ability to use us for their living, I think that first of all addresses the problem.”

Monds said the next step would be to determine how immigrants who do want to work get into the country illegally and what to do with them.

Chapman pitched a four-pronged approach to a federal judge’s July 2009 ruling that Lake Lanier was not authorized by Congress to provide the state’s municipalities with water.

He suggested conservation, dredging existing reservoirs, storing water in rock quarries and building new reservoirs.

Monds said he would first assure Georgians that their water will not be turned off.

The next step would be to challenge federal government organizations like the Environmental Protection Division and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and allow businesses in on the issue.

“If we get government out of the way, I believe the marketplace will solve this,” Monds said.

McBerry said he agreed with Chapman’s conservation suggestion, but it may not be enough.

He said Atlanta’s administration should be forced to repair the city’s infrastructure to prevent water loss, and that state leaders should tell the federal government the water in the lake belongs to Georgia.

All three candidates said they support eliminating state income taxes.


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