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GOP women welcome two
Hawkins, Sheffield stump in county
Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner candidate Maria Sheffield talks Tuesday. - photo by Jennifer Sami
State Sen. Lee Hawkins headlined Tuesday’s meeting of the Republican Women of Forsyth County, which also included a visit from Maria Sheffield, insurance commissioner candidate.

Hawkins fielded audience questions and discussed key issues facing the state and nation.

The state senator, whose District 49 includes Hall County and parts of Jackson County, announced his intent to seek the 9th District Congressional seat in September.

“People are people,” he said. “I don’t care whether they’re from here or there. We’re north Georgians and we’re all the same. We have the same values.”

Hawkins is one of at least eight candidates for the post currently held by U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, who is running for governor. 

Though he competes in a field of seven Republican hopefuls, Hawkins has raised more money than his opponents.

This was his first visit to the county since Forsyth resident Mike Evans dropped out of the race.

The top priority facing Georgia and the country is creating jobs, said Hawkins, who has served Hall and surrounding counties as a dentist for more than three decades.

“If a man or a lady doesn’t have a job, then health care and everything else is secondary,” he said. “If you can’t feed your family, if you can’t house them, everything else doesn’t mean nearly as much.

“We’ve got to get the economy rolling again. We’ve got to get jobs coming again and the other things are going to fall in line. But we’ve got to focus on those things.”

Questions touched on key topics like energy, terrorism and spending. But some also addressed Deal’s priorities during his nine terms in office, specifically immigration reform and a birthright citizens bill.

Hawkins said temporary work cards could be a solution, but the country needs to do a better job of removing crime-committing illegal immigrants and reinforcing the borders.

He also said Congress should move forward on the birthright citizens bill, which requires at least one parent to be a legal U.S. resident for a child born in America to be a citizen.

“If we’ve got equipment that can track a cow anywhere in the United States, we ought to be able to do a better job in watching those borders,” he said.

“We’ve got some bad guys, we’ve got some bad gangs, so I’d definitely work on cleaning those folks out.”

Sheffield, a Cobb County resident, is running against state Rep. Tom Knox of Cumming and a handful of other candidates for the state insurance and safety fire commissioner.

She talked about her educational background and how she earned a bachelor’s, law and two master’s degrees before age 25. 

Beyond schooling, Sheffield said her true experience comes from six years she spent working for the state’s insurance department, which helped her learn about the industry.

She noted she is “strongly opposed to [President Barack] Obama and the Democrats’ health care plan.

“In an effort to make sure we’re combating what’s going on at the federal level, we don’t need to jump into something quickly at the state level and make a bad decision,” she said. “[We need to] make sure that the legislation that we get is actually going to give us what we want.”

Peggy Green, president of the Republican women’s group, said it’s likely the organization will collaborate with the county’s Republican Party for some form of debate before the primary election in July.

Until then, she said, “There are so many candidates running this year, and especially in the 9th District, we’re having two each month to give that exposure to our members as much as possible so they can be an informed electorate.”

Green foresees an “energetic election season.”

“I think there’s a lot of energy in the Republican Party right now, so we look forward to it,” she said.