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Candidates for governor, state, local positions meet Forsyth County voters
Attended annual Forsyth GOP meet and greet
Republican meet and greet

There’s more than a year before the 2018 midterm elections, but state and local candidates are already courting Forsyth County voters.

On Monday, the Forsyth County Republican Party held its second annual Chill and Grill event at McDonald and Son Funeral Home, featuring remarks from candidates and campaign officials.

“We absolutely got the entire field here to mobilize and energize the Republican grassroots. It was a fantastic event,” said Justin Hawkins, chairman of the party. “We had over 200 people here, and it’s July 3rd, which is obviously a huge holiday.”

Hawkins said the event was a good chance for voters to meet candidates and hear their messages directly.

“It shows the energy that is growing with the Forsyth County Republican Party,” he said. “We are becoming a regional powerhouse across the state for two reasons: No. 1, Forsyth County is the most conservative; No. 2, we are one of the most populated counties now in the state.”

At the start of the event, Sheriff Ron Freeman led a prayer and District Public Service Commissioner Bubba McDonald sang “God Bless the USA.” Robert Lee of the Young Republicans also addressed the crowd.

Below, candidates tell voters why they should pick them in 2018.

Rob Woodall
U.S. Congressman Rob Woodall. - photo by Micah Green
U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall

Running for re-election

Rep. Rob Woodall represents the majority of Forsyth County in the U.S. House and said the election of President Donald Trump is giving Congress the best chance to enact conservative legislation since he was elected in 2010.

“I’ll tell you, with President Trump in the White House, I’ve never been more optimistic about Forsyth County values,” Woodall said. “There is not one bill we can’t pass that the president won’t sign; the only question is can we pass it.”

Casey Cagle
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. - photo by Micah Green
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle

Running for governor

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, of Gainesville, was one of three candidates or campaigns for governor to speak at the meeting. Cagle, who took office in 2007 and previously represented parts of Forsyth County in the state legislature, said the state needs to prepare for growth by supporting infrastructure for roads and building a work force.

“I can tell first hand that Georgia is due to grow in less than 15 years by 4.5 million people; if you put that in context, it’s like putting the state of South Carolina in Georgia,” Cagle said. “Within that, we’ve got to make sure we are planning for that growth.”

Secretary of State Brian Kemp

Running for governor

Unable to attend the event was Secretary of State Brian Kemp. Hawkins gave the crowd some information on Kemp and credited him with 2016’s “SEC primary,” which consisted of Georgia and 10 other states.

“He’s the architect of the SEC primary. He put Georgia on the map,” Kemp said. “He beat a Democratic incumbent in 2002 and represented Athens-Clarke County in the state Senate.”

District 6 state Sen. Hunter Hill

Running for governor

Also running for governor is District 6 state Sen. Hunter Hill (Atlanta), who could not attend. District 37 state Rep. Sam Teasley spoke on behalf of Hill, who he said was a movement conservative.

“We need a leader who is willing to stand up to the left, who is willing to stand for those conservative principles in an unapologetic way,” Teasley said. “Hunter Hill has courage. I’ve seen him do it in the state Senate when he’s taken an unpopular position, but Hunter is un-apologetically conservative.”

Michael Williams
District 27 state Sen. Michael Williams. - photo by Micah Green
District 27 state Sen. Michael Williams

Running for governor

Michael Williams, who represents the majority of Forsyth County, also spoke at the event. Williams was the first elected official in the state to support Trump’s campaign.

“There’s a process that happens down at the capitol, and it is designed to get legislation that lobbyists and special interests want, not what we the people want,” Williams said. “If you liked what Donald Trump is doing in D.C., you’re going to like what we’re going to do in Atlanta -- change the process and put you back in the center of the politics and center of the policy.”

Chris Carr
Attorney General Chris Carr. - photo by Micah Green
Attorney General Chris Carr

Running for re-election

Attorney General Chris Carr was selected to his seat on Nov. 1 to fill the unexpired term of Sam Olens, who left the position to become President of Kennesaw State University. Carr said he wants to defend the Constitution, veterans and law enforcement.

“As Attorney General, I think it is my duty to defend the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution and the laws of the state of Georgia and defend the interests of the people in the state,” Carr said. “Our constitutional values mean nothing and our American values mean nothing if there’s not someone in an American uniform today somewhere in a dangerous part of the world standing up to defend our nation.”

David Shafer
District 45 state Sen. David Shafer. - photo by Micah Green
State Sen. David Shafer

Running for lieutenant governor

District 45 state Sen. David Shafer, who serves as the senate’s president pro temp, is seeking the lieutenant governor office and said he would continue fighting for conservative ideals.

“For the last 15 years, I have been the workhorse for conservative ideals in the state Senate,” Shafer said. “I pushed the constitutional amendment to cap the state income tax to make sure Georgia’s income taxes will never be any higher … I served on the conference committee that did away with the state tax on gasoline.”

State Rep. Geoff Duncan

Running for lieutenant governor

Forsyth’s District 26 state Rep. Geoff Duncan could not attend Monday’s meeting due to a conflict. Speaking on his behalf were District 24 state Rep. Sheri Gilligan and former District 25 state Rep. Mike Dudgeon.

“Geoff stood up for conservative principles under great pressure,” Dudgeon said. “I was down there for six years; the gold dome does not produce a lot of conservative legislation. In fact, Geoff voted his conscience twice, and it got him in trouble because he wanted to make sure he held the principles that this county holds.”

Buzz Brockway
District 102 state Rep. Buzz Brockway. - photo by Micah Green
State Rep. Buzz Brockway

Running for secretary of state

Lawrenceville’s Buzz Brockway, who represents District 102 in the state House, said one of the main things he wanted to tackle if elected was rules for elections.

“The Democrats are targeting this state and they have for a while. Unfortunately, politics is a substitute for war sometimes,” Brockway said. “What we’re going to have to do is make sure that we have a secretary of state that will stand on the law and make sure our elections are fair.”

Brad Raffensperger
Then District 50 state Rep. Brad Raffensperger, who was elected Secretary of State in 2018. - photo by Micah Green
State Rep. Brad Raffensperger

Running for secretary of state

Also running for secretary of state is District 50 state Rep. Brad Raffensperger, who was elected in 2015 to fill the unexpired term of Lynne Riley, who resigned to serve as commissioner of the Department of Revenue. Raffensperger said he was pro-life, pro-gun rights and pro-small business.

“As a small business owner, I care about the taxpayer because those are one in the same, really,” Raffensperger said. “Some states have figured out how to make things easy, and some states, they don’t make it easy. Georgia makes it easy, and I want to be part of the solution that makes it easy to do business in Georgia.”

Greg Dolezal
Greg Dolezal. - photo by Micah Green
Greg Dolezal

Running for District 27 state Senate

Looking to fill Williams’ seat is Forsyth County resident Greg Dolezal, a current and former member of several Forsyth County boards. Dolezal said values of individual liberty, personal freedom and limited government are under assault.

“Frankly, I’m concerned,” Dolezal said. “America is something we inherited from our forefathers. My grandfather fought in World War II, and America is not just a country — it’s an idea. Ideas need to be protected, and ideas can come under assault very easily.”

Marc Morris
Marc Morris. - photo by Micah Green
Marc Morris

Running for District 26 state Rep.

Forsyth County resident Marc Morris is hoping to be the successor for Duncan’s seat and said he we wanted to have a strong focus on economics.

“Economics I see as probably the biggest solution for many of the things we face here,” Morris said. “Transportation — if we have companies here that are able to hire people locally and grow their business here, then our community is going to grow.”