The Times will be publishing candidate information over the next few weeks for contested races, which can be found at gainesvilletimes.com/election2020. The Times is also offering virtual forums for select races: state House District 29 and 30 and U.S. House District 9. The District 29 event is 5:30 p.m. Oct. 5. Register online and learn more at gainesvilletimes.com/timestalks.
Times Talks | Forum with candidates for state House District 29Live discussion with Republican Matt Dubnik and Democrat Pat Calmes on top state issues affecting Hall County.
Pat Calmes: She supports Medicaid expansion and wants to see more support for those dealing with mental health and substance abuse issues. She said she also “can’t imagine a future without insurance that has preexisting conditions,” especially as people may have long-term health effects of COVID-19.
Matt Dubnik: He said rural health care access should be a priority. We still have counties without doctors, without dentists, without OB-GYNs,” Dubnik said. “… Growing up here, living here, you kind of take it for granted that there’s a doctor’s office on every corner.” He said he is glad the legislature has taken steps to address surprise billing and maternal mortality.
Calmes: Health care and education should be budget priorities, and she said she supports a cigarette tax as a possible revenue source. Too many budget cuts, particularly in health and human services, can strip state agencies of their effectiveness, she said. Legislators “need to be honest with the people about what is really needed for the state,” she said.
Dubnik: He said he is optimistic about the state’s economic future, and “as long as we continue to take a common sense approach and don’t get ahead of our skis,” the state could avoid stricter budget cuts. He said the state could find some savings by getting rid of extra real estate and vehicles if more employees work remotely.
COVID-19 pandemic response
Calmes: “The state leadership and nation’s leadership have not taken a serious opinion about the COVID virus and haven’t stuck with the science,” Calmes said. “… We have to wear masks, we have to social distance, we have to quarantine if we’re around someone who has COVID.”
Dubnik: “We shouldn’t need government to tell us how to be safe or smart in our daily activities. I believe without a doubt, if you’re sick, stay home,” Dubnik said. He also said the state should help coordinate resources during emergency situations like COVID-19.
Law enforcement issues, reforms
Calmes: Law enforcement has to have accountability. If they shoot someone, that person is not just wounded and they have died, and it’s a bad shoot, they need to be held accountable. That’s what I was taught.” She is a retired parole officer.
Dubnik: “I’m not in support in any way of defunding our police or our law enforcement. I support all our law enforcement officers properly enforcing our laws and keeping our community safe,” he said. “I believe in police accountability, but I think the accountability piece is more important than just blanket reform.”
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