The three candidates for Georgia governor on the Nov. 6 ballot — Democrat Stacey Abrams, Republican Brian Kemp and Libertarian Ted Metz — weigh in on the key issues facing Georgia.
Early voting for the Nov. 6 election began on Monday and will continue on weekdays through Nov. 3 and Saturdays on Oct. 20 and Oct. 27.
Early voting is available at the new Forsyth County Voter Registration and Elections Office at 1201 Sawnee Drive weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and on Saturdays (Oct. 20 and Oct. 27) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Early voting is also available at the Hampton Park Library, the Midway Park Community Building and the Sharon Springs Park Community Building on Saturday, Oct. 27, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Monday, Oct. 29, Wednesday, Oct. 31 and Friday, Nov. 2 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Tuesday, Oct. 30 and Thursday, Nov. 1 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Experience: Kemp is Georgia’s Secretary of State, a seat he has held since 2010 by then-Gov. Sonny Perdue, and was previously as state Senator for District 46, Athens. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia.
More info: kempforgovernor.com
Kemp wants to keep fully funding the state’s QBE formula and has said he would work with the state superintendent to decide how the formula could be improved. He also has plans for a one-time $5,000 increase in pay for teachers, a new rating system for education at child care centers and new school safety measures.
Kemp has said that he would cut taxes and offset any windfall the state is receiving. He has said he wants to audit all tax breaks to protect taxpayers and praised the state’s film tax credit.
Kemp wants to cut down on red tape and reduce regulations for businesses. “My plan is to create an environment in our state where we have less regulation, we have a low cost of doing business and low taxes,” he told voters in Dawson County on Oct. 1. He has said he is in favor of strengthening the state economy and finding workforce solutions for rural Georgia.
Kemp wants to grow the rural hospital tax credit program, increasing the cap from $60 million to $100 million. He also hopes to limit surprise billing through expanded network coverage and an updated provider directory. Kemp has also favored waivers to allow for association health care plans and reinsurance programs.
Criminal Justice reform
Kemp has said he would give the Attorney General’s office the ability to prosecute gang cases across multiple jurisdictions and create a gang strike team to train law enforcement.
Kemp has said he supports constitutional carry, which would allow people to carry a firearm concealed without a permit and application process.
Kemp opposes sanctuary cities. He wants to create a “criminal alien database,” which would aggregate data from law enforcement agencies and categorize crimes committed by illegal immigrants.
Experience: Abrams is the former minority leader for the Georgia House of Representatives. She is also co-founder of NOW Account, a financial services firm for small businesses.
More info: staceyabrams.com
Abrams has committed to fully funding the Quality Basic Education Formula, which the state uses to determine funding for each public school district. However, she does hope to reevaluate the formula to address poverty and help districts that do not have as many resources.
Abrams has proposed a state earned income tax credit that, according to her campaign, would increase with work effort for those with the lowest incomes, then gradually decline for people with moderate incomes.
Abrams has proposed that the state invest $10 million in small business financing programs and partner with private lenders to provide capital to businesses. She also wants to work to create 25,000 to 45,000 advanced energy jobs. She supports the expansion of the port in Savannah and potential new inland ports.
Abrams supports Medicaid expansion. She also hopes to prioritize Alzheimer’s research and devote more resources to the state’s Community Care Services program, which helps people who are elderly or impaired keep living in their homes and communities. She wants to promote telehealth so people can connect with providers outside their communities.
Criminal Justice reform
Abrams supports the elimination of cash bail and fines rather than jail time if someone has a small amount of marijuana. She also wants to expand Georgia’s accountability courts. She has proposed raising the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to 18.
Abrams supports universal background checks, including for guns purchased at gun shows or sold privately. She wants to repeal Georgia’s campus carry law. She also hopes to allow families to petition courts to temporarily restrict firearms access for people who may be dangerous to themselves or others.
Abrams opposes separating migrant children from their parents. She has said she would work to ensure that people are not afraid to report crimes to law enforcement due to their immigration status.
Experience: Metz, a U.S. Navy veteran, is now retired but worked in the insurance industry for 20 years and was in telecommunications before that. He has always worked multiple jobs and said he has also been a chef. He is the Libertarian Party of Georgia chair.
More info: tedmetz.com
Metz has said the QBE formula should be fully funded but could be reevaluated. He has said that school districts could cut down on administrative positions to free up funds.
Metz wants to eliminate state income taxes and property taxes. He is proposing an across-the-board sales tax to make up the revenue. People with lower incomes may be able to receive discounts on that tax, he said.
Metz wants to reduce regulations on businesses and has suggested that industrial hemp, which can be used to make plastics and textiles, be legalized as an additional source of industry.
Metz supports allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to write prescriptions. He also wants to create a health insurance pool for catastrophic health care. “Since the use of catastrophic health care is far less than primary health care, then premiums, if we created a pool and could get every Georgian in it, then the actual premium price would be fairly low,” he said.
Criminal Justice reform
Metz said it should be legal for people to have a small amount of marijuana for recreational use. Keeping nonviolent offenders out of the prison system can help with crowding, and training inmates for careers can also help reduce recidivism, he said.
Metz said he supports the Second Amendment and does not think the government should have the power to infringe upon it. Criminals will not follow the law anyway, he said. However, he believes gun safety should be taught to children.
Metz said people should register when they immigrate to the United States. He said he does not think immigration is causing an increase in crime, and immigrants are often positive contributors to society.
- FCN staff reporter Kelly Whitmire contributed to this report.