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State House District 28 Republican hopefuls take part in debate
District 28
Six Republicans are running for state House District 28, which now includes a portion of north Forsyth County and west Hall County following redistricting.

There’s a large Republican field for the state House District 28 seat, and voters had a chance to hear from the candidates this week.

On Wednesday, April 27, the Forsyth County Republican Party hosted a debate for District 28 candidates at the Forsyth County Administration building that was attended by Republican candidates Brent Cox, Donald “D.A.” Lannom, John Luchetti, Blake McClellan, Tim Short and Julie Tressler, who fill face off in the May 24 primary.

If no candidate receives at least 50% of the vote plus one vote, the top two vote-getters will go onto a runoff election on Tuesday, June 21.

The winning Republican will face Democrat Claudia Wood in November. 

During the debate, candidates gave opening and closing statements and alternated giving the first answer to questions. 

The FCRP has hosted several debates for local races in the last week, and the final one will be on Tuesday, May 3, for state House District 100 candidates at the Forsyth County Republican Party Headquarters, 510 Lake Center Parkway, Ste. 103.

Here’s a look at how the candidates responded to questions.


For the first question of the debate, candidates were asked what they saw as the most important issue in the district and how they would deal with it if elected.

Each candidate said they saw growth as being a major issue but offered different ways of addressing the problem.

Luchetti, a business owner, said he did not support high-density developments and thought infrastructure needed to be updated.

“The infrastructure has not been designed to take to the growth and is being well-seen now when I have to wait 10 minutes just to go a couple of miles down Hwy. 20,” Luchetti said. “I think we need to slow the growth, and I think high-density zoning needs to be put a hold. A lot of people are trying to talk about doing that here in Forsyth County, and I think it’s the wrong issue to resolve our traffic infrastructure.”

McClellan, an entrepreneur, said that he was against any legislation that would take zoning decisions away from counties and did not believe the district needs United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, housing.

“I don’t think that we need to have HUD housing in this district,” he said. “I think that what makes Forsyth County great is this is a place to raise your family.

“This isn’t a place to start out right after college … and what we see with Cobb County and Forsyth County, is when they add all of this high-density housing, it’s irresponsible growth and brings crime and other issues.”


Election issues

In 2021, the Georgia General Assembly passed Senate Bill 202, also known as the Election Integrity Act of 2021, which was later signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp.

The bill made changes to early voting and absentee voting, ballot drop boxes and other election matters, and during the debate, candidates were asked about the bill, election integrity and what changes they would like to see.

Tim Short, a pharmacist, said election integrity was a major issue coming into the race and SB 202 “was a good start” but he still had issues with elections in the state, including the use of ballot boxes, which he said he believes could be stuffed

“We have to have some kind of control over lock and key, making sure that when you cast your vote, it’s counted, making sure that people that are not eligible to vote, don’t vote. Those are critical issues,” Short said. “I think using technology in the voting process is good. Are there issues that can happen with software? Absolutely, but there needs to be so many lines of security in software that it’s almost impossible.”

Tressler, a real estate agent, said she also thought the previous election bill was a push in the right direction but had issues with the state still using Dominion voting machines, which have been a target of former President Donald Trump and his supporters following the 2020 election.

“I’ve always struggled with that because when they talk about a recount, it’s not really a recount,” Tressler said. “They’re running the same ticker tape from the same machines. There’s no opportunity for the results to be any different as far as that goes. Technology is great.”

“We’ve invested gazillions of dollars into the machines, so I don’t know that it’s in the immediate future that we can change out and use anything else,” she said, “but I think more eyes on the process, more awareness of opportunities for fraud is important.”


Constitutional Carry

Earlier this year, Kemp signed into law Senate Bill 319, which allows the carrying of firearms without a state concealed weapons license.

At the debate, candidates were asked their thoughts on the change.

Cox, a business owner, said he was a longtime Second Amendment supporter and holder of a weapons permit and believes being able to carry a weapon is a Constitutional right.

“One of the things that I think is important: I don’t pay money for my First Amendment right, and I don’t think that we should have to pay money for our Second Amendment right,” Cox said. “I understand that paying a fee to get a license … that’s fine, I don’t have an issue with it. But as it relates to the Second Amendment, let's just look at what has happened over in Ukraine and Russia.”

Lannom, a U.S. Army veteran and consultant, said he also believed being able to carry a weapon was a Constitutional right and the majority of gun owners are already following rules that criminals would not.

“There are even people on our side that question why we needed this bill. We have a constitutional right to bear arms, so why do we need it?” Lannom said.

“But what it does do is give us all the right to do it in the open, more or less,” he said. “The argument against this bill is usually going to devolve into a discussion of guns kill people, and that’s just simply not true, people kill people.”