Occupation: lieutenant governor of Georgia
Political experience: State senator, 1994-2006; lieutenant governor: 2007-present.
Family information: Wife Nita; three sons
Occupation: Has worked as a real estate broker and management consultant
Political experience: Former DeKalb County commissioner and Georgia state senator
Family information: Married to Dr. James A. Stokesl three adult sons, two grandsons
2014 election calendar
Advance voting: Through Oct. 31
General election: Nov. 4
State runoff: Dec. 2
Federal runoff: Jan. 6
Hall County advance voting
When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday through Oct. 31; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25
Where: Hall County Elections Office, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville
Georgia’s competitive races for governor and U.S. Senate have dominated media coverage in the run-up to the general election Nov. 4, overshadowing other contests.
The lieutenant governor’s race, pitting incumbent Republican and Hall County native Casey Cagle, seeking a third term in the office, against Democrat Connie Stokes, a former state senator and DeKalb County commissioner. It deserves attention for its focus on two critical issues: education and the economy.
Here’s a look at where the candidates stand:
Since first elected lieutenant governor in 2006, Cagle has made improving the state’s public education system his top priority.
Cagle helped spearhead the creation of the Charter Systems Act, which gives individual schools the flexibility to develop their own policies and curriculums outside of federal and state mandates.
“Part of the challenge that I believe we have fundamentally in education is that we have a one-size fits all model,” Cagle said.
There are now 14 charter systems across the state, including Gainesville city schools.
Cagle said he believes that more local control can improve education and provide new career pathways for students.
With this in mind, Cagle also helped develop college and career academies to give students who do not want to pursue a liberal arts degree at a university another option.
Cagle said these academies give students real-world, hands-on experience and readies them for the careers of their choosing.
On her website, Stokes advocates for greater funding for the state’s pre-K programs and a Hope scholarship reform plan that does not cut students out.
(Note: The Times made repeated requests to the Stokes’ campaign for an interview, but calls and emails were never returned.)
“For the past decade, we have watched in horror while the current leadership has cut funding for our schools by the billions,” Stokes states on her website. “Even when our economy fully recovers from the recession, the cuts to education have been so extreme that Georgia will have difficulty getting our schools back up to speed.”
Cagle believes the first issue can boost the second
“I think education is the entity that drives the economy,” Cagle said.
But beyond education, Cagle believes state government can to more to recruit and incentivize businesses to locate and operate in Georgia.
Good tax policy, workforce investments and support research institutions are three keys to improving the health of the economy, he said.
Moreover, Cagle supports the Invest Georgia initiative, a $100 million commitment by the state to create a stronger venture capital presence.
“I believe Georgia can become the Silicon Valley of the South,” Cagle said.
Stokes states on her website she wants to invest in workforce training to ensure residents are equipped to perform the jobs available today and in the future.
Stokes also wants to invest more in improving transportation.
“Better transportation options, not only eases congestion in urban centers, but in all areas of our state puts Georgians back to work on projects that benefit our state economy,” she states on her website. “Additionally better transportation options allow Georgia to compete in bringing jobs to (the state).”