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Who’s running for state House seat District 29? Get to know these two candidates
Matt Dubnik Devin Pandy

The Times is presenting candidates’ positions on local issues in print editions ahead of the Nov. 8 election. Early voting begins Oct. 17. For more coverage, visit gainesvilletimes.com/election2022.

What to know about this race: Incumbent State House Rep. Matt Dubnik (R) and Devin Pandy (D), both of Gainesville, are contending for Georgia’s District 29 seat. 

How to vote: A 2021 redrawing expanded district lines to encompass a greater portion southeast Hall County, including Oakwood, and narrowed some of its northern territory.

Only those in the district vote. Check your districts at www.mvp.sos.ga.gov. Voters select the same ballot in the runoff as they did in the primary, either a Republican or Democrat ballot.

Meet the candidates


Matt Dubnik

Republican 

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Rep. Matt Dubnik, R-Gainesville. - photo by Scott Rogers

Occupation: CEO of Forum Communications, chairman of the House Education Committee

Family: Wife, two sons

Political experience: Held House seat since 2017

Devin Pandy
Devin Pandy.jpg
Devin Pandy
Democrat

Occupation: Retired from U.S. military 

Political experience: Former candidate for Gainesville mayor, 9th Congressional District 

Family: Wife, two children

Candidates on education legislation

The state legislature focused efforts last year toward giving parents more control over their children’s education. What do you see as pressing education issues moving forward?


Dubnik: His primary focus would be to reexamine school safety initiatives and quality basic education formula (QBE), a complex formula used in the distribution of funding to school systems, which he described as more or less outdated. “I think the things we’re hearing the most about right now are school safety initiatives, and then with QBE formula for K-12, there’s a lot of question – that was a formula created in the mid-‘80s – is that the best way?” Dubnik said, stating he’d like to take another look at the formula going forward.

 Pandy: Addressing legislation signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp last April that limited subjects of race in school curriculum and barred transgender athletes from participating in certain sports, Pandy took issue with recent GOP-backed efforts on education and described the bills as divisive. “The legislature didn’t actually give parents any more rights than they already had, all they did was work to fire up their base by creating a reason to be fired up when there really wasn’t one,” he said. “I’m all for parents being involved in their children’s education. I think that’s a great thing - I think children do better in school when their parents are involved, but what they don’t need are the parents going head-to-head because the parents are being [pitted] against one another with a false narrative.”

Candidates on firearm laws 

In April, Kemp signed a bill amending Georgia’s gun laws that now, in effect, allow a person to lawfully possess and carry a firearm without a permit. 

Pandy: While Republican lawmakers have since dubbed the bill “constitutional carry,” Pandy called the legislation “criminal carry” and said he opposes any effort to loosen restrictions on who can own and carry a firearm. “To me, that was a slap in the face to us gun owners who take the time to be lawfully abiding citizens, but also [who] take the time to get our background check and get our license to carry - only now to be told that the same criminals [they’re] complaining about getting out of jail too soon are now allowed to carry weapons without having a background check,” Pandy said. If elected, he’d support efforts raising the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21, as well as “reversing the criminal carry legislation that passed this year.”

Dubnik: With a rise in mass shootings at schools throughout the U.S. in recent years, Dubnik said Georgia Republicans like him “have had a good track record of providing school safety grants and initiatives to make our schools as safe as they can be.” “I want to say up front that I’m very proud we focused on safety initiatives,” he said. “As the governor said, during his second term, there are other initiatives we’ll work on together.” Dubnik said he believes adequate laws are in place to prevent individuals with felony criminal records, mental health challenges or a history of domestic violence from obtaining firearms. “We’ve put laws in place to prevent that and to secure that,” Dubnik said. “From there, I think we’ve got to bring a common sense approach to looking at our gun laws…we have thousands of laws telling us what we can and can’t do with guns. I’m not just sure more laws are going to change anything. We’ve got to look at enforcement of the laws we have, first.”

Candidates on the state budget

In the last General Assembly, legislators cut state income tax this legislative session and gave out more than $1 billion in tax rebates. How do you think future budget surpluses should be handled?


Dubnik: Georgia had a $6 billion state budget surplus at the end of June, and state officials must now determine how best to allocate those funds. Dubnik said these surpluses should be mostly reserved for taxpayers, adding he voted in favor of “the two largest tax cuts in the history of the state.” “I think it’s a surplus because it came from taxpayers,” he said. “I believe that hardworking Georgians should have their hard-earned dollars in their pockets. If and when we have those surpluses, I support the refund of that $1 billion-plus. The state has a surplus because of the taxpayers, not the other way around.”

Pandy:  Pandy, who described the GOP-backed $2000 bonus money given to K-12 teachers as an election-year ploy, said that state officials should look to reallocate a portion of that money to better fund education in Georgia as a whole. “We’re not taking funds that we obviously have available to pay our teachers an actual wage commensurate with the work that they do,” Pandy said. “Instead, our teachers are having to spend out of their own pockets for school supplies that should be funded through the school’s budget.”

Candidates on the state budget

In the last General Assembly, legislators cut state income tax this legislative session and gave out more than $1 billion in tax rebates. How do you think future budget surpluses should be handled?


Dubnik: Georgia had a $6 billion state budget surplus at the end of June, and state officials must now determine how best to allocate those funds. Dubnik said these surpluses should be mostly reserved for taxpayers, adding he voted in favor of “the two largest tax cuts in the history of the state.” “I think it’s a surplus because it came from taxpayers,” he said. “I believe that hardworking Georgians should have their hard-earned dollars in their pockets. If and when we have those surpluses, I support the refund of that $1 billion-plus. The state has a surplus because of the taxpayers, not the other way around.”

Pandy:  Pandy, who described the GOP-backed $2000 bonus money given to K-12 teachers as an election-year ploy, said that state officials should look to reallocate a portion of that money to better fund education in Georgia as a whole. “We’re not taking funds that we obviously have available to pay our teachers an actual wage commensurate with the work that they do,” Pandy said. “Instead, our teachers are having to spend out of their own pockets for school supplies that should be funded through the school’s budget.”

 Candidates on abortion legislation

Georgia’s HB 481, or the “Heartbeat Bill,” which bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, took effect July 22 in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that had provided a constitutional right to abortion. What other actions do you believe legislators should take, if any, on this issue?

Dubnik:  Dubnik, aligning with fellow conservatives, believes the government has a duty to protect an unborn fetus. “We struck a balance between protecting lives of mothers and of the unborn,” he said. “That’s something I believe in. I believe that was the right balance, and I believe it was a healthy balance.”

Pandy: Pandy vowed to fight to repeal the “Heartbeat Bill if elected,” stating his belief that “a man telling a woman what she can and cannot do with her body is by constitutional definition wrong.” “I don’t see anyone proposing that we force men to have vasectomies,” Pandy said. “I don’t see that happening any time soon.” Pandy went on to say he favors a different approach to women’s healthcare issues – like addressing the perinatal mortality rate – and that the government shouldn’t be involved in decisions made between patients and doctors.