If he becomes Georgia's next labor commissioner, Mark Butler said he has a plan.
Butler, who is running against Democrat Darryl Hicks, said he will launch a “lean, mean labor department that will help put people back to work.”
The candidate talked Tuesday with members of the Forsyth County Republican Party about his priorities for the office, and the importance of voting Republican.
“I’ve got a plan to help keep unemployment taxes low,” he said. “One of those is to make sure that we are actually keeping up with folks on unemployment and make sure they are actually looking for work.
“There’s some folks out there that are having trouble getting jobs. There’s no doubt about that. They’re trying really hard. But let’s be honest, there are a lot of people out there who are not really trying. They’re just kind of riding it out.”
Calling himself a bit of a technology geek, the Carrollton resident said he wanted to upgrade the antiquated technology at the labor department to hold those collecting unemployment to a higher standard.
Butler also talked about ideas from randomly drug testing those on unemployment to making sure no illegal immigrants are collecting.
“I don’t care if it’s less than 1 percent, if one person is getting a check they’re not supposed to, we’re going to put a stop to it. It’s just about doing your job,” he said. “I will do what’s right.”
Having been a state House representative for eight years, Butler knows many of his ideas would involve legislative acts, but he plans to work closely with lawmakers to improve the labor department.
With about 4,000 employees at the labor department, Butler said “we can run it a lot leaner staffed.” But he would not cut the more than 2,000 employees working in vocational rehabilitation.
Party member Eric Lurie said he’s attended several candidate speeches and Butler “did an excellent job.”
While the primary races are over and Republican Party members likely will vote along party lines, Lurie said it’s still nice to hear from the candidates.
“I think it just helps me to feel more comfortable with who, I think, will end up representing me and to have a chance to ask individualized questions,” he said.
Butler spent much of his time talking about why, even for the smaller races, it’s important to vote Republican.
He also discussed about his goals for toughening up the department.
“Right now we’ve got a Department of Labor that’s more concerned about getting more people on a government check then they are about getting them into a job,” he said.
“We’re going to change that focus. We’re going to change the mind-set. We’re going to help more people get into jobs.”