Editorials

Endorsements for U.S. Senate, Houston County races

One of the most contested races this election cycle has been that for the Senate. The seat is presently held by Johnny Isakson who is seeking his third six-year term. First elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004 when Zell Miller retired, he won with 57.8 percent margin over one-term congresswoman Denise Majette. By that time, Isakson was a seasoned politician having served seven terms in the Georgia House and one term in the Georgia Senate with a run for governor in 1990, which he lost to Miller. In 1996, Isakson made a run for the U.S Senate and lost in the Republican Primary to Guy Millner.

Always viewed as a moderate Republican, Gov. Miller turned to Isakson, who he had beaten for governor in 1990, to head up the State Board of Education which was in turmoil due to the sorry leadership of state Superintendent of Schools Linda Schrenko, who was eventually indicted by a federal grand jury for embezzling more than $600,000 in federal education funds and sent to prison.

While Isakson’s public service record is well known, one of his opponents, Jim Barksdale is new to the political fray. He was born in Macon but raised in Atlanta, where he now lives and has raised his family. In 1986 he founded Equity Investment Corporation, which handles about $5.2 billion for clients. He points to his “outside Washington” status and promises to be a watchdog over Congress. He admits the Affordable Care Act has flaws, but is not in favor of repealing it, rather, making it work better. Isakson has voted continuously to repeal the ACA. There is another candidate in the race, Libertarian Allen Buckley an attorney and CPA. Buckley proposes eliminating the income tax and increasing the FICA tax rate from 7.65 percent to 12 percent and other measures such as a Value Added Tax of 12 percent and a self-employment tax rate of 24 percent.

While the Libertarian stands little chance of winning this race, Buckley could be the spoiler and prevent either Isakson or Barksdale from topping the 50 percent mark forcing a runoff. Barksdale and Buckley are fine individuals. We applaud them for running their races in the positive when many other races around the country have gone for the extreme negative.

However, our choice is Johnny Isakson. While we don’t agree with him on every policy position, Isakson is one of the few adults remaining in Washington’s highly partisan atmosphere. He has not been cowed from reaching across the aisle to get things done for Georgians. He’s built relationships with his colleagues and when he speaks, Democrats and Republicans, listen.

Isakson also has a long record of constituency service and valuable contributions on key Senate committees — chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs; chair of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics and sits on the Senate Committee on Finance. Add to that his posiiton on several important subcommittees. It is in committee where the real work is accomplished. What our state is missing most is a seat at the table of the several committees that deal with our military as another BRAC looms large. We can’t afford to have a novice at the stick of our fighter jet at this time. We need the cool, calm, veteran leadership of Johnny Isakson.

Houston County Commission, Post 5

Tom McMichael has been serving as a Houston County commissioner for two decades. He has lived in the area for 37 years. His opponent, Gordon Hicks — in Houston County terms — is a newbie, having been in the area for four years. McMichael can turn in almost any direction and see the dramatic changes the county, many of which he’s played a major role in creating.

The commission has managed to keep property taxes stable and runs its business with absolutely no debt. For most governments that’s more of a wish than reality. That’s a testament to good fiscal management. While we congratulate Hicks for his willingness to serve, this commission isn’t broken — at least not yet — and we believe Tom McMichael, even at 80, still has a wealth of experience to bring to the table and a schedule that would exhaust younger men.

Commissioners should be concerned, however. Only one of the five, Commissioner Gail Robinson, is under retirement age, so it’s more than past time to be looking for bench strength — younger people who can carry on. Maybe in the future, Hicks might be one of those. It does take either guts or foolishness to run countywide as a Democrat in a staunchly Republican area, but for now, McMichael’s our man for Post 5.

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