On Nov. 6, voters in Georgia’s District 29 will decide between Republican incumbent state Rep. Matt Dubnik and independent Nancy Stead to represent them in the Georgia House of Representatives.
Dubnik, the incumbent, took office in January 2017. Stead is a retired physician.
Both candidates praised Georgia’s accountability courts for cutting down on recidivism in the prison system. They also both said job training for inmates could help them be successful when they leave prison and prevent them from returning.
They both said that Georgia is already highly ranked as a top place to do business, and they want to continue that. Dubnik emphasized making learning a trade, such as welding, more appealing to fill a shortage of skilled workers. And Stead said infrastructure is key, noting that Northeast Georgia has Ga. 365, Ga. 400 and Interstate 985.
Also, both candidates said health care and access to high-speed internet can drive development and help rural communities thrive.
For education reform, Dubnik said local school districts should have more control, and teachers should not be so worried about teaching to a test. And Stead said wraparound programs, which can provide support such as food pantries, can boost achievement, and outreach efforts focused on middle school students could keep students motivated and encourage them to prioritize their education.
To keep schools safer, both candidates said school entrances need to be limited and secure. Dubnik said the state should offer funding for school safety, but local districts should decide how to spend those dollars. In Forsyth County, for example, the Sheriff’s Office has worked with school system staff to create a safety task force, a collaboration that could serve as a model, Dubnik said.
Stead said some teachers she knows have said they would not feel comfortable carrying a gun, but school resource officers are properly trained about how to handle firearms.
Schools should also work to prevent incidents before they happen by identifying students that may harm others, she said. But students should feel like they are at school, not in a prison, and they should not feel isolated from the community when at school, she said.
What else is on the ballot
- Age: 37
- Residence: Gainesville
- Experience: Dubnik is the incumbent and first took office in 2017. He runs a Gainesville marketing firm with his wife, Katie Dubnik.
- More info: dubnikforhouse.com
On the issues
The state’s Quality Basic Education formula, which determines funding for Georgia public school districts, was fully funded for the first time this year. While he believes the QBE formula should stay fully funded, he is in favor of re-evaluating it.
“We have to look at it and adjust where necessary. Thirty years ago, there probably wasn’t a line item for technology,” Dubnik said.
There is a shortage of skilled workers in fields like welding, Dubnik said, and the state can incentivize people to make it more attractive to learn a trade.
“If you can’t find good welders, if you can’t find good mechanics, business is going to go elsewhere looking for them,” he said.
The state can also remove some barriers to small businesses by cutting down on regulations and bringing agencies together, reducing the time businesses have to spend on coming into compliance and dealing with red tape, he said.
Dubnik said the state can address health care access issues by funding more residency programs at state hospitals, like at Northeast Georgia Medical Center, where residents are expected to start in 2019.
However, Dubnik said health care costs are often the biggest barrier. Health care systems, state government, private businesses and insurance companies can come together to find solutions, he said.
Gun rights and safety
Dubnik said he believes in responsible gun ownership, and people should be educated about how to safely and lawfully own a gun.
“We cannot change the way that our law-abiding, responsible citizens, we cannot change the way that they are able to buy and own guns because there is violence in the world,” he said.
Gun violence can be dealt with by cracking down on gangs and cartels, and mental illness should also be addressed, he said.
The House Rural Development Council has been established to focus on rural areas and how to improve their infrastructure, Dubnik said.
“We are no more metro Atlanta and everybody else,” he said.
The government can partner with private industries to bring broadband to more rural areas, he said. In many areas, there is a demand for high-speed internet that is not being met, and the investment is justified, he said.
When companies move to Georgia, they don’t necessarily have to place all their employees in Atlanta, he said.
“Let’s incentivize the company to put some of those support-type jobs in these communities,” he said.
Experience: Stead is a retired physician. She opened a hematology, oncology and internal medicine practice in Gainesville in 1991, which then merged with the Northeast Georgia Diagnostic Clinic in 2000. Now, she operates a small cattle farm with her husband, Alan Atwood.
More info: electnancystead.com
On the issues
Stead said she is glad the state’s QBE formula was fully funded this year, and she would want to continue that trend by helping the economy grow.
To make Georgia attractive for business, the state should invest in infrastructure like high-speed internet, she said.
Internet can support education, health care and business. She said some may not think of internet as infrastructure, but it helps communities succeed.
Stead said health care costs need to be controlled. She said the Affordable Care Act provided affordable insurance, if people were able to get a subsidy, but when people do not qualify for a subsidy, they essentially take a pay decrease.
She said she would support Medicaid expansion if it did not increase the state budget and if tax cuts were not rescinded.
Stead said she sees health care going in the direction of a single payment system, what others call a single price system.
“No matter what the retail price is, the sale price is the same for everybody,” she said.
Gun rights and safety
Stead said people should take a safety class before they own a gun and learn how to properly use it and store it. When guns change hands, background checks should be required, she said.
People who have their guns stolen should report the theft or be held accountable if a violent incident does occur, she said.
Rural communities experience some gaps in health care access, Stead said, and hospitals like Chestatee Regional Hospital in Dahlonega are closing.
People in some rural areas, including parts of Hall County, still cannot access high-speed internet, she said.
Growth has also been affected by a lack of health care, which makes it difficult to attract businesses, she said.
Deadline: Oct. 9
How to: Visit mvp.sos.ga.gov or the Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville