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The GOP forum by contest
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Forsyth County News

District 2

Candidates: Michael Busse, Joseph Moore, Charles Smith and Brian Tam (incumbent)
* What happened: The four candidates fielded questions from the moderator, while many of the candidates' questions were directed at Tam. The men responded to queries on the best way to facilitate infrastructure improvements and ways to attract business to Forsyth.
* Candidate responses varied to the question, "What is the county's greatest need."
* Busse: "Public safety is of the utmost importance. We do not need to make budget cuts in fire, police and emergency services. There are other places we can tighten our belt. We need to make sure the funding is in place for these vital services."
* Moore: "Forsyth County's greatest need right now is for water. I'm tired of not being able to water my lawn and landscaping. There are lots we can do to fix water problems. In the month of May, 10 trillion gallons of water fell on Forsyth County. That's a lot of water, and most of it ran down the river to Florida. We need to find a way to retain that water here."
* Smith: "To continue the quality of schools and the tax rate we pay, we must have in place a well-oiled operating economic engine ...To craft this engine, I would say the first objective is to make it attractive for the right kind of companies to come to Forsyth County. Then, get something in place that will operate for decades, so with some level of comfort we can say the slice of the pie that is represented by property taxes is in the low to mid-20 percent of the whole revenue pie."
* Tam: "We need to focus on water, traffic and education. With respect to water, we need to set an example of going green through engineering and environmental design. We also need to encourage businesses to follow in our footsteps and build environmentally friendly buildings.
"Traffic, we have SPLOST ... some funds are available, but we need to reach out to our state delegation and lobby for state funds. Education, the benchmark of any community is the school system ... we must continue as a government to have positive working relationships with the board of education."


District 4

* Candidates: Patrick Bell and David Richard (incumbent). Note: This was a Republican debate, so Jon Flack (Democrat) was not present.
* What happened: This session proved to be a crowd favorite, with supporters of each man applauding their respective candidates to the point that it seemed like a clapping contest. Bell and Richard engaged in a testy back-and-forth session on topics ranging from whether local officials should be voted in on a countywide basis to private property rights.
* A question that stirred much debate: "What criteria would you use to determine how the green space bond funds should be spent?"
* Richard: "If anybody saw the last work session, you saw one commissioner dragging four other commissioners kicking and screaming to finally put together the parameters and criteria on how we're going to rate our green space. We have delayed that vote time and time and time again.
"We put together a list of 10 criteria ... and we now have a set of criteria we are going to use to rate every single piece of property that has been offered to us or we think might be an important property in a particular area.
" It was largely my efforts ... that finally got us a set of criteria that our GIS (geographic information services) folks can work with ... and they're doing wonders."
* Bell: "When we were encouraged to vote for the (parks, recreation and green space) bond, we were told we would have a citizens committee to help select these properties. I have to say that had I been sitting in the position of commissioner, I would have encouraged citizen involvement. I don't think one commissioner dragging the others along is the appropriate way to do it.
"The appropriate way is to do what you said you were going to do and create a committee that can help select these properties. Then find out what's important to the citizens of Forsyth County, not the commission's 10 most important factors, but what's important to the people paying the bill."


District 5 (incumbent not running)

* Candidates: Jim Boff, Terry Sweeney and Julie Tressler. Walter Waddell did not attend.
* What happened: Candidates fielded questions ranging from relations with the city of Cumming to the potential construction of a new courthouse and jail.
* A question that stirred some debate: "What can be done to improve transportation in Forsyth County?"
* Sweeney: "The traffic in South Forsyth is out of control. I think south Forsyth County people need to get a lot more tax money sent to them because they're the largest tax holders in the county. Forsyth needs to also coordinate more traffic lights."
* Tressler: "We need to continue to work with our state delegation to push for more adequate transportation funding to address some of our issues here in Forsyth County ... We need to look at some other solutions ... like telecommuting and teleworking for employees ... also providing more opportunities for our citizens to interact with our government online and cut down on trips they have to make downtown."
* Boff: "It hasn't been my observation that traffic is caused by people coming to the county center here. It's people trying to get to Atlanta and people taking kids to school. Some things could be done to help persuade kids to ride school buses ... also, maximizing things by participating in the SPLOST [committee], which none of my opponents have by the way, would have been an important step for somebody who wants to maximize transportation."