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District 4 hopefuls face off at forum
Richard or Bell to advance July 15
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Forsyth County News
Forsyth County Commissioner David Richard and Republican challenger Patrick Bell clashed during a forum Wednesday night, much to the delight of their supporters in the District 4 contest.
The winner of the July 15 primary contest advances to the Nov. 4 general election, where he will face Democrat Jon Flack.
Contentious issues at the Forsyth County Republican Party forum included a question Bell posed to Richard concerning a water withdrawal permit for the county, while Richard asked Bell what kind of principles would drive him as a commissioner.
"All the tough decisions come to this room right here," Richard said Wednesday night in the commission meeting room, site of the forum, "many of which require a principled decision without the benefit of citizen input.
"So, without using the words, 'professionalism, divisiveness or citizen input,' what actions will you take to address the issues facing Forsyth County today?"
Bell used his two-minute response time to address the question.
"To make this audience believe that somebody walks in here and poses questions to this board without prior knowledge ... is ludicrous," Bell said. "You absolutely have time to solicit public input."
Bell defended his own use of "buzz words."
"The words can't go away," Bell said. "They're part of the problem I see with [Richard's] campaign."
In his one-minute rebuttal, Richard dismissed what he called Bell's "broken litany."
"My opponent has no platform," Richard said. "He has no specifics ... at some point you need principles to guide you. I haven't seen that yet, except, 'I'm not Dave Richard' and 'He's not professional.'"
Bell then had the opportunity to pose a question to Richard regarding previous reports of the county obtaining a water withdrawal permit for Lake Lanier.
"Two years ago you stated a water withdrawal permit for the county is right around the corner," Bell said to Richard. "Recently you stated at a Smart Growth meeting, 'We're this close.'
"Can you name a single person who works for the EPD or the Corps [of Engineers] or is currently sitting on this board who agrees with you and can back up your statement?" Bell asked.
Richard said he has posted documentation on his personal Web site concerning a potential separate water intake valve for the county. Cumming provides water for both the city and the county.
"You can't pin down anybody from the EPD ever on any one situation," Richard said. "The bottom line is, we are moving forward, we're closer than we've ever been before.
"It's likely, sometime this year, we will get a decision on whether or not we will have a separate water withdrawal permit," he continued.
In his rebuttal, Bell responded: "Interestingly, I was able to pin down the EPD. They said it's not a reality. You've yet to name one person on this board or with the EPD who can back this false claim.
"You're running a campaign based on smoke and mirrors, mistruths, half-truths, and this county deserves better," Bell said.
Another commission debate is set for 7 p.m. June 26 in the South Forsyth High performing arts center.