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Newcomers in Dist. 95 race
Rep. Mumford leaves vacant seat in House
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 Seeking to fill the vacated seat of Robert Mumford, real estate broker Toney Collins and marketing manager Erick Hunt are competing to represent District 95 in the Georgia House of Representatives.
"I just want to put Georgia back on track with affordable health care. I want to create jobs and ensure good education for our kids. I do want to work across party lines," said Democrat Collins, who ran once unsuccessfully for the Georgia legislature in 2006.
If elected, Collins said he would focus on the areas of health care and education.
"I'm a person that has had personal health care issues before," said Collins, who is a former kidney transplant patient. "Health care is very important to me. I'm going to work hard for PeachCare."
Hunt, a Republican, said he would bring with him to Atlanta a strong sense of fiscal responsibility, which he has used for years in corporate America managing large budgets of $40 million.
"There always is some expenditures some place that are unnecessary. It's called making a tough decision," said Hunt, adding that he would go line by line through the state budget looking for "fat" to cut. "I'm very familiar with the budgeting process, how difficult and intricate it is. All I know how to function is in an environment of fiscal responsibility."
To solve the state's glaring transportation problem Hunt said he would support or introduce legislation that would allow voters to "craft their transportation improvement plans in concert with the state [Department of Transportation]." That could include a referendum to approve a regional Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for the funding of local transportation projects.
He said he would also support permanently designating the fourth penny of the state sales tax, which he said amounts to $150 million annually, to GDOT for designated road projects, alternative transportation and the conversion of some traditional highway lanes to HOV lanes.
Collins said he would encourage more car pooling, more public transportation for the district and a light rail system.
"We do have to find ways to connect with downtown Atlanta and Gwinnett County," Collins said. "I think the best way to do that is to bring in a light rail system."
Collins suggested holding a referendum and asking voters to decide whether to raise hotel/motel taxes or state gasoline taxes to pay for transportation improvements.
Both candidates said they supported keeping the $428 million Homeowner Tax Relief Grant, which reimburses local governments that provide a homestead tax exemption. Gov. Sonny Perdue has proposed eliminating it.
They also both promised to change the atmosphere of partisanship and party infighting which has dominated the Georgia legislature over the past two years.
"I'm a person that I feel like I can see both sides. I would reach across the aisle and talk with people and find out what the issues are. I think the main thing that we have to find is commonality," Collins said.
Said Hunt, "As I have been campaigning, I have been meeting more Democrats. These are people that I can work with. Our issues are too large to fight either across parties or even internally."
Hunt has worked in the corporate marketing sector for the last 20 years in advertising and brand management for Beatrice Foods, DirecTV and Lennox International. He earned his B.S. in marketing from Hampton University. Originally from Chicago, he and his wife Valerie have lived in Snellville for the last 10 years. They have one son.
If elected, he said he plans to hold regular townhall meetings in all areas of District 95, which includes parts of Gwinnett and Rockdale counties and northern Newton County.
"I relate well to white people, black people, farmers, corporate types, entrepreneurs, homemakers, homeowners. I relate well to everyone," Hunt said.
Collins earned a computer engineering degree from Tampa Technical Institute. He is currently involved in the real estate business after previously working as a computer engineer and for a fiber optics company. Collins has lived in Rockdale County for the last nine years. He is single.
"I really do have a voice for the people. I think I was raised with hard work values. My faith in God and community is definitely important," Collins said. "I want to work with the people that really want to make a difference. I want to have an open door policy."