Through his term on the Forsyth County Board of Education, Mike Dudgeon said he has strived to be professional.
“And that’s the way I would like to conduct myself at the state as well,” said Dudgeon, one of three candidates for the District 24 state House seat. “I will work with anybody.”
Tom Knox, the District 24 incumbent, is running for state insurance and safety fire commissioner.
Dudgeon was one of two candidates to speak Tuesday during a Republican Women of Forsyth County lunch meeting. The other was Bobby Reese, candidate for the District 9 U.S. House seat, recently vacated by Nathan Deal in his race for governor.
While there is a June 8 special election runoff between Tom Graves and Lee Hawkins to fill the vacant seat, the winner of the runoff will only serve until 2011, when the original term expires. The July Republican primary will determine which candidate will begin service in January.
Dudgeon spoke about changes he’s brought to the school board and touched on his views on water and transportation, on both of which he said he’s open to all suggestions.
He also talked about the hard road ahead for the state legislature.
“It’s going to take people who are just willing to roll up their sleeves and work hard and make very tough choices,” he said. “Whoever is representing this district next year is not going to win the super popularity contest because … there’s no way to give everyone what they want.”
Dudgeon, who will face off against Anna McManus and Douglas Wright in the July 20 Republican primary, said his success in business ventures gives him ample time to spend at the Capitol.
Illegal immigration became the focus of the meeting following some group questions.
“They’re illegal, we should enforce it any way we can,” Dudgeon said. “You get some sob stories and you get some cute kids, I’ve seen them at graduation. The problem is you can’t make public policy with emotion and sob stories.”
Reese said he’s the son of a legal immigrant. His mother, an Austrian native, learned English when she first moved to America.
“She was learning English, doing the right thing, and that’s really your bottom line with any immigrant,” he said. “If an immigrant does not want to assimilate into the country, they’re not there for the right reasons.”
Current laws, Reese said, are good. They just need to be enforced.
“We have satellite systems, technology out there, we can see if a jack rabbit crosses the border. There is no reason we cannot see thousands of people crossing that border every day,” he said. “It’s up to groups like this to stay on your representative … this is your country.
“If the White House doesn’t want to protect it, then by George, it’s up to us as citizens to protect it.”