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Race for State House heats up
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James Mills

Age: 46

Occupation: Businessman

Education: Bachelor’s degree from Mercer University, master’s degree from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

Family: Wife, Rita and children Micah, 18, Moriah, 16, Malachi, 12, and MaryQuinn, 6


Chris Strickland

Age: 34

Occupation: Teacher at Creekland Middle School in Lawrenceville

Education: Bachelor’s degree from Shorter College, master’s degree from Augusta State University and doctorate from the University of Georgia

Family: Wife, Kelleigh, children Emmaleigh, 6, and Maggie, 3

After holding down the job for 16 years, Rep. James Mills, R-Chestnut Mountain, is being challenged by political newcomer Chris Strickland for the District 25 seat in the Georgia State House of Representatives.

Strickland said he felt compelled to run after becoming disillusioned with Mills as a representative.

"It’s time for a change and we needed some new leadership. And so I decided that’s what I needed to be there for, to bring some new leadership to Hall County," Strickland said. "I have no desire to be a professional politician."

But Mills said his record can speak for itself.

"I’ve been able to get so many good things done for Hall County and the state of Georgia, and I want to build on that. I want to help our community," Mills said.

He said some of his most notable accomplishments are getting millions of dollars for transportation improvement in Hall County, putting "In God We Trust" on the state flag and working toward bringing the 287(g) program to Hall County, which allows local law enforcement agencies to begin the deportation process for illegal immigrants who have broken laws.

"I’ve been honored to serve for 16 years in this position," Mills said. "I want to continue to work to protect our own citizens in Georgia."

Strickland said if elected, his biggest goals are cutting spending and supporting education.

"Right now we see a graduation rate which is up at 75 percent, however, that means a quarter of our students are still flunking out of high school," Strickland said.

Strickland said though he feels the spending needs to be cut, education should be fully funded.

"The only way America continues to be the bright shining light that it’s always been is because we have a well educated populace," he said. "I would scrape the gold off the dome before I would cut education in the state of Georgia."

However, Mills said it is up to the voters to decide who is the best man for the job and there are clear differences between himself and his opponent.

"I support McCain and Palin. ... I’m pro life. I am opposed to all tax increases. I have a record that bears that out. I’m for less government, more personal responsibility," Mills said.

Mills said he has a history of cutting taxes and authored the bill to reduce property taxes for people older than 70 that is currently on the ballot.

Strickland said he is qualified for the job because of his experience in schools.

"I know what it takes to bring quality leadership. I’m a schoolteacher. I’m a parent. I know how to say no to bad ideas and promote good ideas," Strickland said.