COLUMBUS, Ga. – Candidates running for Georgia’s 3rd Congressional District are making their last pitch to voters before election day. The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) sponsored a public forum at the Columbus Library on Macon Road featuring eight of the nine candidates running for the seat being vacated by Lynn Westmoreland next year. Six republicans and two democrats lined the stage of the auditorium, as several small business owners and other concerned voters came out to hear how the candidates could distinguish themselves.
Cade Joiner owns a paper-shredding business in Griffin, Ga. Small business is a top priority of his this election season.
“I was looking to see what this lady and these gentlemen thought about small business, what their plans were, and how they plan to help the taxation situation we’re facing as small business owners,” Joiner said. “And also the burden of regulation, what they can do to relieve that of small business owners.”
The candidates spoke to relieving that pressure.
“A one size fits all policy on regulations is just not fair to the small businesses,” West Point native and Republican candidate Drew Ferguson said.
Georgia State Senator Mike Crane did not agree with the recent executive announcement to pay overtime to salaried employees making less than about $47,500.
“I think the federal government has gone too far involving themselves in our employment negotiations,” Crane said.
Fellow Republican candidate and business owner Chip Flanegan echoed Crane’s remarks.
“That’s my choice,” Flanegan said.”I’m the owner, I get to make those decisions.”
Federal overreach seemed to be a common theme among most of the candidates. At one point, the candidates responded to how they would work with the next president and other members of congress. Republican candidate Richard Mix looked forward to working with “President Trump.” The Sharpsburg business owner also spoke to the cuts at Fort Benning having negative effects for the future.
“When we’ve seen troop deployment go up, when troop count has been cut, that’s a dangerous precedent,” Mix explained.
“Each soldier there supplies three civilian jobs,” Republican candidate Rod Thomas said.
Democratic candidate Tamarkus Cook said party lines shouldn’t matter. The Coweta County pastor believes relationships are ultimately what make businesses successful.
The Affordable Care Act’s impact on small businesses also drew ire and concern from each candidate.
“It’s bad business, it’s bad for business, and it hasn’t helped the average worker achieve a more affordable healthcare plan,” Republican candidate Jim Pace said.
Democratic candidate Angela Pendley says she wants to revise “Obamacare” and accept federal funding to expand medicare and medicaid.
At the end of the night, business owner Cade Joiner says the candidate he elects to the 3rd Congressional District of Georgia must work to simplify his struggle of dealing with compliance issues and rampant red tape at the federal level.
“I’d rather be spending my time going out and selling to new customers and creating jobs in the community.”