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Voters can set agenda in state election
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If the last seven years of inaction on transportation, economic development, and health care have taught us anything, it’s that state elections have serious consequences for ordinary Georgians.
We cannot afford to dismiss this business as “just politics.” In addition, voting against someone you’re mad at, as many did in defeating Roy Barnes in 2002, may not in fact result in state government that actually works for Georgians.
The governor’s race is still a free-for-all. With Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle bowing out, we have a new group of potential candidates on the Republican side. And I suspect that once Barnes makes his intentions for Georgia’s top job, there will be more shake-ups in the race.
In an environment this unsettled, voters can ask questions that have a huge impact on the way the race develops, whether you’re a Democrat, a Republican, an independent or a new voter.
Here are questions I’ll be asking the candidates:
1. What is your plan for transportation? For too long we’ve been playing Lucy and Charlie Brown with this issue as if it were nothing more than a child’s football game. Gridlock affects our quality of life and our ability to attract quality jobs to our communities.
If we don’t have a comprehensive transportation plan, including a way to fund it, it won’t matter how much or how little power individual politicians have in selecting projects. They won’t get built. We need a governor with the interest, engagement and willingness to use political capital to get a deal on this issue.
2. What is your plan for health care? We need a trauma network that is truly statewide. County hospitals are overwhelmed by the uninsured going to their emergency rooms. Insurance premiums, deductibles and co-pays keep going up, keeping even folks with supposedly good health coverage from getting the care and medicine they need. Paperwork and cuts in reimbursements are making it harder and harder for doctors to practice medicine.
We need a governor who is willing to wade into the lobbyist-infested shark pool to craft a system that works for Georgians and ensures we all have access to health care.
3. What is your plan for jobs? We need to promote economic development that brings good paying, secure jobs to our local economies.
For seven years this has largely been absent from Georgia government and has been left up to various chambers of commerce. But without a coordinated effort including our state government, we simply won’t be able to compete with our neighbors.
We spend less than one-tenth of what South Carolina does promoting tourism. Without quality leadership, we’ll read articles in 20 years similar to ones that were written about Birmingham losing out to Atlanta for dominance in the New South in the 1960s.
4. What is your plan for the environment? The “Green Movement” is not going away. Environmental crises loom, which will adversely affect our quality of life if we are not willing to address them.
Our leaders must understand this.
As we move forward in Georgia, will this candidate support effective policies that embrace this ethic of stewardship for our environment, while promoting growth and true wealth in our society? Even better, are you ready to provide leadership in this arena?
The way our next governor addresses these critical issues will impact our state for a generation. As we’ve seen at the federal level, just a few short years of neglect can have devastating consequences.
Vote as if your future depended on it, because it does.

— Sen. Curt Thompson, a Democrat in the state Senate, represents the 5th District
— The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 28
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