The last of five Forsyth County Republican Party forums pitted experience against passion in the July 31 contested primary races for state House District 26 and state Senate District 27.
For attendee Jim Kinsey, those who vote in the House contest will have a tough decision between Republican candidates with similar values and goals.
“They’re the same … I think the winner in that district is the electorate, because I think either one of them will do an excellent job,” he said.
Former state lawmaker Tom Knox and political newcomer Geoff Duncan squared off Wednesday for the newly drawn House post that represents most of eastern Forsyth.
The two candidates had similar responses to a variety of questions, including how to improve water access, handle illegal immigration and implement a better tax system, as well as how they feel about some social issues.
Knox, who served five terms in the state House before running for state insurance commissioner in 2010, said he has experience doing what others want done.
He pointed to President Barack Obama’s health care plan, which was held up by the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday, as his reason for pursuing the insurance post.
“The most important thing we need to do in this election cycle is make sure that we don’t have another Obama any place,” he said. “You know why? Because experience does count.”
Duncan, a business owner and former professional baseball player, said he brings a fresh approach as a nonpolitician.
“I’ve got perspective. I’ve lived the life everybody here has. I’ve got three kids in public schools, I run a business, I’ve faced the same [challenges] when the economy turned down,” he said.
Ethan Underwood, chairman of the local Republican party, said the debate series was successful in addressing relevant topics without unnecessary mudslinging.
“Everybody is trying to keep this a positive campaign that … tries to address the issues,” he said. “… We asked hard questions about tax matters, social issues, government efficiency issues. It’s the things we all want to know about.”
In the state Senate, District 27 includes nearly all of Forsyth County, with the exception of its extreme northeastern corner.
Incumbent Jack Murphy and his opponent Steve Voshall, who founded the Forsyth County Tea Party, shared many similar views Wednesday.
Both Republicans want to reduce government involvement in health care, are pro-life and support both vouchers and charter schools to help improve the state’s education system.
They also would vote to repeal the 17thAmendment to allow the state legislature to appoint U.S. senators instead of voters.
Asked about legislative priorities, Murphy listed improving the way property taxes are appraised, reducing taxes and going to a consumption tax system.
To Voshall it’s about “jobs, debt and taxes. And when we get done with that, jobs again.”
Murphy used his rebuttal time to clarify why tax breaks are a priority.
“To get jobs into the state, we’re going to have to give some companies breaks on their taxes to get them here,” he said.
No Democrats qualified to run for either post, so next month’s primary will decide the races. Underwood said he was pleased all five forums stayed civil.
“[The candidates] have all got good backgrounds but different visions,” he said. “And that’s the purpose … to let the public decide who is the best.”