Two political newcomers are taking on a four-term Lawrenceville incumbent in the Georgia House District 103 Republican primary.
Timothy Barr, A construction company owner who took office in 2013, is facing Derrick McCollum and Donald Schmidt in the June 9 election, with the winner facing Democrat Clifton Marshall in the fall. District 103 covers portions of South Hall and North Gwinnett counties.
Occupation: construction company owner
Political experience: took office in 2013
Occupation: Habersham County firefighter
Political experience: first run for office
Occupation: works for an information technology development company
Political experience: first run for office
Barr, 39, said he sought re-election because “the passion to preserve my kids’ freedom and myself — and that of everybody living in our district — is still paramount.”
Key for him is putting a stop to “bad” bills.
“I don’t think folks understand how many bad pieces of legislation get put forth,” Barr said. “My top priority is stopping these bad ideas that take our freedom away.”
Also, he said that with the state economy expected to take a beating from the coronavirus pandemic, “I feel I’m uniquely positioned to help get the economy moving again, being a small business guy and (with) my years at the Capitol.”
He added that he’s a member of the House Appropriations Committee, a key cog in the process of “going forward with the Georgia state budget.”
Barr also is a big gun rights supporter, saying he has “authored every pro-Second Amendment legislation since I’ve been down there.”
McCollum, 51, of Gainesville, said that as someone who served as a Marine and as a firefighter who has worked in Hall and now Habersham counties, “I enjoy helping people.”
That was a primary motivation behind seeking office.
“I feel like, as a state representative, I can continue serving my community,” McCollum said.
And that includes helping with “even the simple things, such as a driver’s license or something like that. To me, that’s huge in being a representative — hence the name.”
A top issue for him is public safety, a nod to his years in that field.
“From police officers to fire service, that’s going to be top of my list — taking care of public safety, not only for the public but for (those serving),” McCollum said.
He also wants to strengthen the technical college system.
“College isn’t for everybody, and we’re going to need tradespeople — welders, plumbers, the whole gamut,” he said. “At the high school level, I would like to work on something that would give students that avenue. I think everybody is kind of steered toward college.”
Donald Schmidt, 22, of Dacula, hasn’t sought office before, but he has worked on gubernatorial, congressional and local political campaigns.
“I understand how the political processes work and … you start to realize that there’s not really a concern (among politicians) over that Georgia is ranked 42nd in the country in education or Georgia is ranked 43rd in health care,” said Schmidt, who works for an information technology development company.
“The main concern is should I vote this way to get this nicer office or vote that way to get a better title. I’m more interested in finding ways to lower the taxes or cut deficits.”
A top issue for him is public education and common core, which is a set of educational standards for teaching and testing.
“Common core does not allow teachers to access their unique abilities to teach their students,” Schmidt said.
Also, health care is a major concern, particularly the survival of rural hospitals, as well as the need for more clinics “rather than people visiting emergency rooms,” he said.
Candidates on 2 issues
Economy and projected budget shortfalls
Barr: “I’m on the (Georgia House) small business development committee and we’re looking at a number of proposals that will help restart small businesses that have been shut down in many different facets. Because we’re on the front end of that, I can’t really put my finger on a magic bullet, but we’re definitely working hard on that. There aren’t a lot of specifics right now because everything is on the table.”
McCollum: “I think (legislators) are going to have to be very creative going forward. I think I bring a lot to the table, having fresh ideas. Being a problem solver — that’s taught in the Marines and fire services — and from owning a small business, I’ve seen a lot of aspects of running on a tightrope as far as a budget.”
Schmidt: “The amount of people who are becoming unemployed, the amount of cash reserves that are dwindling for a lot of these small businesses, that is just terrifying. And the government can only support the economy for so long. There has to be a point where we open the economy, and I stand with what Gov. (Brian) Kemp is doing (in that area).”
Barr: “My priority is the patient-doctor relationship and making that as smooth as possible, and absolutely, surprise billing would be part of that. In a bigger picture, with the health care needs we’re going through (with COVID-19), (an issue is) seeing what needs (hospitals) have and how state resources can jump in and help out. I want the best care for folks.”
McCollum: “This is going to be a huge issue, especially with everybody staying at home and canceling all these (elective) procedures, such as knee surgeries. It’s killed all of our hospitals, so they’re all going to be struggling and looking for ways to make their budgets.”
Schmidt: “We have a massive problem with rural health care. We have to find a way to introduce price transparency and cut red tape and regulation to allow for lower prices, more competition and opening more clinics.”