Incumbent Republican District 18 Rep. Kevin Cooke of Carrollton is being challenged by Democrat Pat Rhudy of Carrollton.
In House District 69, incumbent Republican Rep. Randy Nix of LaGrange is running against Democrat Herbert Giles of Carrollton.
The candidates this past week spoke to the Times-Georgian about their positions. Giles did not respond to phone calls and e-mails sent by The Times-Georgian.
Cooke, 32, who has worked as a real estate appraiser for the past six years, said the best way the government can help the economy and education is to “get out of the way.” The economy, he said, continues to grow at a slower rate than desired.
“But Georgia has worked, and will continue to work, to lower regulations on small business owners to make life easier for them to operate and to make money,” he said. “As government gets out of their way, they are able to grow and to expand, thus hiring more employees. Further, we will keep up our efforts to simplify the tax code, while reducing the burden on small businesses.”
Bureaucracy, he said, is tying up schools and teachers.
“Administrators and teachers should be freed up to run schools and to teach rather than being forced to spend half their time on pointless paperwork,” he said. “Providing parents and students with choices in education will also help. Every child is different and every child learns differently.”
Rhudy, 61, a substitute teacher and a U.S. Census Bureau field representative, has worked in several Democratic campaigns and ran for state House seats in 2004 and 2006, and the state Senate in 2010. She feels the job situation is getting better.
“The Legislature helps most by being mindful of needs of and providing for the best K-12, public education system of any other state in the nation and the social structure for a good quality of life,” she said. “It also helps by providing and maintaining excellent infrastructure for transportation and movement of goods.”
Speaking on education, she said, “I’m beginning to think, that the best reform would be to concentrate efforts and increase personnel so that children learn to read in the first and second grades.”
Cooke said he has supported legislation that protects Georgia taxpayers from the burdens of illegal immigrants.
“What we need more than new laws is enforcement of the current laws by the federal government,” he said. “If a citizen fails to pay taxes, the IRS will exhaust every asset at its disposal to find that person and collect the funds due to the government. When a legal immigrant overstays his/her visa, an individual is not pursued for paperwork or to send them home.
“When illegals are found to be in our country, they are often released,” he added. “If Washington would do what is necessary to protect or rule of law, namely securing our national borders, the state would not be in the position of having to craft immigration bills. In the absence of their enforcement, I will support whatever is necessary to protect the interests of Georgians.”
Rhudy said employers are the ones who are responsible if they hire undocumented workers.
Cooke said he wants to move Georgia away from income taxes and toward a consumption tax, which he feels is the fairest system.
“Penalizing those who work hard for their money doesn’t promote productivity,” he said. “With some form of sales tax, Georgians have more control over their taxes by cutting back on spending. Regardless, taxpayers will be required to contribute less as we shrink state government and decrease what is necessary to fund programs. My goal of lowering taxes is coupled with a goal to cut the size and scope of our state government in Georgia.”
Rhudy is a proponent of income tax.
“It’s more fair for taxpayers and also more reliable as a source of income for the state,” she said.
Cooke believes life begins at conception and ends with natural death, and he supports traditional marriage.
“My position is unwavering in my commitment to protect life in its most vulnerable state, the womb,” he said. “I’ll unapologetically support legislation that respects life. I believe that marriage, as defined in our state constitution, in scripture and in Webster’s Dictionary, is the union between one man and one woman. I will continue to support and advocate for legislation that protects this definition, those who marry and the religious institutions that promote these values. I am a Christian first and foremost and my views on these issues are born out of biblical principles. For that reason, my position on these topics doesn’t change.”
“We cannot legislate what a woman decides to do with her body, nor should we try,” Rhudy said. “I’m in favor of allowing committed gay couples legal recognition of their next of kinship status with one another.”
Nix, 60, is pastor of Hillcrest United Methodist Church in LaGrange. He has served three terms in the state House in District 69 which includes parts of Carroll, Heard and Troup counties.
Nix said he wants to continue to work on business friendly tax legislation.
“The tax reform we passed last year was not as deep as it could have been,” he said. “We’re going to have to do things to encourage companies to come to Georgia and help existing companies. We can do that with tax policy and by reducing the amount of regulation. My goal is to make Georgia one of the most business friendly states in the nation.”
Nix said he feels the Legislature should look deeper at education, all the way to the classroom level.
“I would like to see a reduction in the amount of paperwork that teachers are required to do,” he said. “I’d like to see them spend more time teaching rather than filling out papers.”
Nix said he would like the legislature to re-examine the immigration legislation to help farmers get the labor they need.
“The overall direction we’re heading in immigration is right, if the federal government is not going to close the border,” he said. “We need to do what Georgia has to do to protects its interests, but we need to look at other issues, such as labor and make sure we’re doing what’s right for everybody.”
Nix said he would also like to see a move toward a consumption tax.
“I think it’s more fair than taxing assets and income,” he said. “I think we’re going to see a lot more discussion on tax policy, but I don’t know if we’re ready to make a move. Those are steps that can’t be done in one fell swoop, but are going to take a lot of time.”
Nix said he is “very pro life” and supports the “sanctity of life.”
“My record has been the same for six years in office,” he said. “People can see where I stand. I’m very pro life and believe in the institution of marriage. I’m the same on traditional values as when I first ran for office.”