Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle is no stranger to Forsyth County and stopped by this week as part of his campaign for governor.
On Tuesday, Cagle spoke at a meeting of the North Forsyth 400 Rotary Club. He previously represented north Forsyth as the District 49 state senator from 1995 to 2007 until he took office for his current seat.
“It’s great to be back in Forsyth, particularly north Forsyth,” Cagle said. “As many of you know, I was first elected to the state senate in 1994 and the district itself was all of Hall County and the northern part of Forsyth County, so we’re actually in what was my old senate district.”
Cagle, a Gainesville native, was elected in 2006 as the state’s first Republican lieutenant governor and announced his gubernatorial campaign in April.
During the meeting, Cagle covered several topics before taking questions from Rotary members.
For infrastructure, he recommended implementing flex-lanes similar to those on I-75, which use moveable barriers to create a more lanes when the road is busiest and increasing and improving broadband for rural residents.
Cagle recommended greater work with private businesses for road projects, using the March I-85 bridge collapse as an example.
“When government gets out of the way and incentivizes the private sector to do what they do best, you can build a bridge back in 45 days,” he said. “Those conservative principals have actually paid off and what excites me about building the infrastructure is looking 10 years down the road through a strategic plan that guides us in terms of spending our resources where they need it the most.”
He also advocated for more workforce training to get Georgians to work and for college and career academies.
“We want to make sure that we are in a place in society to where we celebrate all forms of work, because every job that is being done is an important job,” he said.
Answering questions from the audience, Cagle said he wanted to tackle overdoses in the state, discussed the ongoing water wars with Alabama and Florida and gave his thoughts for immigration in the state.
“I want to be very clear. Do I support illegal immigration? Absolutely not. We have one of the toughest laws in the country in [Georgia],” he said. “But in light of that, we do have to realize we need labor and there needs to be reform in Washington, D.C., that allows a vibrant work visa program that allows us get our work done.”
Cagle was recently in Forsyth County in July and August for events held by the Forsyth County Republican Party.
Throughout the meeting, Cagle spoke highly of Forsyth County, but said residents needed to decide where the county was going.
“This is an unbelievable county. It is so rich in so many assets, a wonderful educational system, but honestly, you’ve got a lot of bickering, you’ve got a lot of fighting going on in here,” Cagle said. “You’ve got to unite around a vision; you’ve got to decide who you want to be as Forsyth County and what that vision is going to be.
“Do you want to be a high tech community, do you want to diversify your portfolio to have more industry here, more high tech jobs, or do you want to just keep building out more residential housing?”
Cagle is one of several running for the Republicans nomination for the governor’s seat.
Candidates Secretary of State Brian Kemp, District 6 state Sen. Hunter Hill, District 27 state Sen. Michael Williams, who represents the majority of Forsyth County, tech executive and former Navy SEAL Clay Tippens and Marc Alan Urbach, who ran a presidential campaign in 2016, have declared to run.