Two Democrats running for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District recently met in Forsyth County to discuss issues and answer questions from the community.
The Kiwanis Club of Forsyth County hosted a candidate forum at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9143 between Bob Christian and Wayne White, who fill face off in the May 24 primary for the district, which includes all of Forsyth and Dawson counties and portions of Cherokee, Cobb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties.
In November, the winner of the Democratic primary will face the winner of the Republican primary, which includes candidates Jake Evans, Rich McCormick, Paulette Smith, Mallory Staples, Byron Gatewood, Blake Harbin, Suzi Voyles, Meagan Hanson and Eugene Yu.
In Forsyth County and across the nation, education, materials taught in schools and school programming have become a big topic of debate, and during the forum, the candidates were asked about teachers leaving the profession and the role of the federal government in education.
Christian, a combat veteran and businessman, said part of his campaign has been an outreach program for teachers and problems discussed at those meetings are typically different than the national conversation on education.
“It was an eye-opening conversation because the number one concern of the teachers is that we no longer trust them,” he said. “They are educated, well-trained professionals who care about our children as much if not more than we do and go out of their way every single day to provide a safe, comfortable learning environment for our kids. We send them to those environments eight hours a day, and we no longer seem to value our teachers for the value they bring to the classroom.”
White, a consultant in international development, said he believed top-down approaches to education from previous presidential administrations had created new issues. Instead, he said more focus should be on empowering teachers to use their existing skills and returning respect to teachers.
“They learn so much in their training about learning styles, individual personality, individual developmental rates of students, but then they’re placed in a situation that, because they have to teach to the test, it’s factory,” White said. “My kids are in college now; I just went through this with my kids. There is tremendous pressure for the kids to meet expectations, one-size-fits-all at each age up coming up. It’s not where we need to be.”
During the forum, questions were asked by three moderators, who were students at Denmark High School.
One question for the candidates was what market-based solutions would they support for dealing with climate change.
White said in the coming decades, the world will see a big increase in the number of electric vehicles on roadways, which will also mean investing in the infrastructure to deal with the increase, and the U.S. needs to be a leader in those changes.
“We’re going to need to be able to generate more clean electricity, but we’re also going to have to move more electricity,” he said. “In places, the capacity of the electric lines is going to have to quadruple, so we’re about to see a huge reinvestment in infrastructure, but in this case, energy infrastructure. It’s going to happen one way or another.”
Christian said climate change is a big factor for young voters because they are more likely to experience the changes and a market-based way to take on was to support the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, introduced by Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida’s 22 Congressional District.
“It puts in place what is proven to be the most effective market-based plan almost worldwide, which is a carbon fee and redistribution system that taxes carbon at a level that makes it more expensive to use,” Christian said. “It forces the corporations to find other methods to produce their products at a cheaper rate, and to prevent that impacting from affecting the local citizenry, it is refunded to them in the form of a carbon reimbursement.”
It has been more than 12 years since the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, commonly referred to as Obamacare, was signed into law.
The candidates were asked whether the government should have a larger role in healthcare and what changes need to be made to the system.
Christian said some changes would be looking at why certain states do not take part in the program and what can be done to bring them in and studying how the program has worked so far.
“This money that has been set aside, this is money that has already been put in the pot, this is money that belongs to those states, the people in them, but half the states didn’t participate because there was an option to not,” he said. “Now, some of that is sheerly due to red-blue politics, plain and simple, and we’re not going to sway the states that make a decision based purely on that unless we change who is in charge of the states.
“But we can go back and look at the bill. We have  years of data, and we can build on what works and try to excise those things that didn’t.”
White said he was a supporter of the ACA and, as a self-employed person, was able to cover his family through the act. He said he would rather build on the current act rather than introduce a new single-payer system or other changes.
“I look forward to when we go even further with providing access, then we can put even more effort into cost containment,” White said. “When I was a kid, healthcare was about 5% of the U.S. economy. Now, it’s about 20% of the U.S. economy and growing.”
“As a percentage, it should be the same. It’s just growing,” he said. “It’s very complex, but we have smart people, we can work on cost containment and certainly joint negations with pharmaceutical companies is only one example of how that can happen.”
Note: Bob Christian wrote sports content for DCN from 2018 to 2020.