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Meet the candidates
Graves Tom2
Tom Graves - photo by Submitted

Here are the candidates for the May 11 special election for the District 9 U.S. House seat.

Chris Cates
• Age: 53
• Party: Republican
• Residence: Blairsville
• Family: Wife, Joy; children, Nathaniel, Andrew and Caroline; one grandchild
• Occupation: Cardiologist for more than 20 years
• Describe yourself in three words: Heart doctor, businessman, non-career politician
• Three qualifications for office: Experience as a businessman who built his own medical practice; fighting for America’s health care for nearly two years; and working toward cost effective health care for more than two decades.
• Why voters should choose you: “I am highly qualified in life experience and I’m exactly what I think the founding fathers had envisioned and exactly what the national congressional Republican committees are looking for—new candidates who have never run for political office, who are leaders in their field and who are willing to take the hits of running for political office to try to serve and bring the power back to the people.”
• Web site:

Mike Freeman
• Age: 69
• Party: Democrat
• Residence: Gainesville
• Family: Wife, Pat; children, Stuart, Melissa, Elizabeth and Charles; eight grandchildren
• Occupation: Retired minister, serving for 41 years
• Describe yourself in three words: Thoughtful, wise, courteous
• Three qualifications for office: Volunteering within the community for more than 50 years; 30 years as a Naval reserve chaplain; and 41 years as a parish minister.
• Why voters should choose you: “I’m the only candidate whose platform is composed of ideas that build, improve and enhance.”
• Web site:

Tom Graves
• Age: 40
• Party: Republican
• Residence: Ranger
• Family: Wife, Julie; children, JoAnn, John and Janey
• Occupation: Owner of Tich Properties, a small business that manages multi-family housing and commercial retail properties.
• Describe yourself in three words: Proven, tested, experienced
• Three qualifications for office: Coming from very simple and humble beginnings; experience as a small business owner; and legislative service representing the north Georgia values.
• Why voters should choose you: “Given the challenges facing America today, we need a bold voice in Washington — a proven, tested conservative and someone who is standing firm on principles and will not be a passive presence while representing north Georgia.”
• Web site:

Lee Hawkins
• Age: 59
• Party: Republican
• Residence: Gainesville
• Family: Wife, Sharon; children, Dora, Michelle, Elizabeth, Merredith, Ben, Jim and Charlie, two grandchildren
• Occupation: Dentist, practicing for more than 30 years
• Describe yourself in three words: Family, faith, patience
•  Three qualifications for office: Providing dental health care for 32 years through his small business; advocating for association of patients at the capitol; and as a state senator working on those same issues and others.
• Why voters should choose you: “I bring to the job experience in both the business and health sector, integrity and honesty, and the willingness to work hard to get the job done and to actually provide solutions.”
• Web site:

Bert Loftman
• Age: 68
• Party: Republican
• Residence: Jasper
• Family: Wife, Bunny; children, Erika, Kristi and Rick, five grandchildren
• Occupation: Retired neurosurgeon, 30 years in practice
• Describe yourself in three words: Jeffersonian constitutional conservative
• Three qualifications for office: Has read and understood both the constitution and the tax system; experienced inflation during Jimmy Carter’s presidency, which he said taught him that the debasement of the dollar needs to be stopped
• Why voters should choose you: “People should vote for me because lowering taxes and decreasing the size of government has not worked when conservatives are in power. We need to prepare the way by replacing the European income tax with the FairTax and by replacing the European Federal Reserve banking system with a sound dollar.”
• Web site:

Eugene Moon
• Age: 42
• Party: Independent
• Residence: Gainesville
• Family: Wife, Rose; children, Abigail, Jade and Savannah
• Occupation: Retail division marketing manager for Lincoln Electric
• Describe yourself in three words: Energetic, leader, resourceful
• Three qualifications for office: Previous business ownership; work experience in the manufacturing industry; and recognition that the government is legitimate only as long as it defends human liberty.
• Why voters should choose you: “I am the only candidate that does not have a vested interest, either as a government contractor or as a career politician, in this race.”
• Web site:

Bill Stephens
• Age: 53
• Party: Republican    
• Residence: Cumming
• Family: Wife, Shannon; children, Josh, Jordan, Connor, William and Cole
• Occupation: Vice president of Southern Highlands LLC
• Describe yourself in three words: Experienced, persistent, knowledgeable
• Three qualifications for office: Being a senior staff member for former Gov. Zell Miller; serving for eight years as a state senator; and experience as Senate majority leader when the Republicans became the majority.
• Why voters should choose you: “I have the experience to take on the special interests and win. I’m the only candidate in the race that knows what it’s like to be in the minority and then in the majority and actually lead.”
• Web site:

Steve Tarvin
• Age: 58
• Party: Republican
• Residence: Chickamauga
• Family: Wife, Jennifer; children, Lance and Amy; four grandchildren
• Occupation: President and CEO of Crystal Springs textile mill
• Describe yourself in three words:  Conservative, constitutionalist, businessman
• Three qualifications for office: Owned a $20 million business for 27 years; served on both the Chickamauga City Council and school board for two years; membership to boards of directors for several community associations.
• Why voters should choose you: “I am what our parents and grandparents have said we need in Washington for years — more business people.”
• Web site: