By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Taxes, jobs, education focus for House 114 candidates

The seat for state representative for district 114 is one of the few local races with challengers this year.

The two candidates vying to be elected to the seat are incumbent candidate Republican Tom Kirby, who was first elected to the district seat in March 2012 during a special election to fill an unexpired term and was then re-elected in November 2012 during the general election, and Democrat Keith Thomas, who's hoping to hold his first public office.

Kirby, 53, said that it's his desire to serve the people in the district is leading him back down the campaigning trail for this election.

"I embrace that this is a servant's position," said Kirby in an e-mail. "Being the representative is about serving the people. I am their voice in state government. I am there to act on their behalf when they have any issue with state government."

For Thomas, he wants an opportunity to represent his birthplace, Walton County, and the place where he grew up, Rockdale County, in the Georgia state legislature. District 114 represents parts of Rockdale, Walton, Gwinnett and Barrow counties.

"I was born and raised in this district," said Thomas. "I'll be here ‘til I die."

Thomas, 57, said his primary objective if elected to the state government will be to reform Georgia's public education system. With his 7-year-old grandson now enrolled in public school, he feels a duty to make sure he has the best tools available to be successful.

"If you look at our education system, it's near the bottom (compared to other states)," said Thomas, who wants local school districts to get more funding from the state budget.

The state's tax code is Kirby's number one objective to reform. He introduced the Fair Taxation Act of 2014, H.B. 688, to the Georgia General Assembly in March 2013.

The key point associated with the bill is to abolish the state income tax and replace it with a consumption tax on new goods and services.

According to the Georgia General Assembly website, as of January, the bill has a status of House second reader. This means it's being discussed by the Committee on Ways and Means, which is the chief tax-writing committee in the House.

For Georgia to compete with neighboring states for businesses, Kirby believes the state needs to transform the tax code.

"It is time that we look at a complete transformation of the tax code," said Kirby, who has worked in the Georgia manufacturing industry for 25 years. "There are so many different taxes that individuals and business are hit with. There are embedded taxes in all of the goods and services that we pay. It is past time to have a simpler fair tax for all Georgians."

Attracting more businesses and jobs to the district is on Thomas' to-do list. Working in the construction industry for 39 years, Thomas strives to put every able-body citizen in the district to work while also promoting the growth of small businesses and industries within the district.

He claims to have personally helped find work for hundreds of people living in the district through local apprenticeship programs in the building trades industry.

"There needs to be more good paying jobs in the district," he said. "I'm a community person. I'm from here. I see where we're weak and where we're strong."

One weakness Kirby believes exist is how overbearing the government has become in the everyday citizens lives. He vows to cut government, state and federal, intrusion whenever possible.

"Government has grown way too big and has exceeded what good and necessary government should be doing," he said. I will be working to reduce government every chance I can, including pushing back from the over reach of the federal government."

Early in-person poll voting ends Oct. 31. The regular poll voting will be Nov. 4.