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State House District 30 candidates seek tax relief, but in different ways
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Republican incumbent Emory Dunahoo and Democratic challenger Alana Watkins are seeking the state House District 30 seat.

Tax relief is a big issue for both incumbent state Rep. Emory Dunahoo, R-Gillsville, and his challenger in the Nov. 6 election, political newcomer Alana Watkins.

But each has their separate proposals in their bid for the State House District 30 seat.

For Dunahoo, who is seeking his fourth two-year term in the Georgia General Assembly, it’s a continued push for “FairTax” legislation, which would convert Georgia’s tax code from a state income tax to a statewide consumption tax system.

FairTax would replace the 6 percent income tax rate “with a broad-based consumption tax.”

That’s what he ran on initially, and “we’ll drop (the legislation) again this year,” said Dunahoo, 61, in an interview last week.

“I ran … on changing our tax system, and it’s still a broken system,” he said.

Watkins, a South Hall Democrat seeking her first political office, would like to see the 4 percent grocery tax abolished.

“I feel like we pay double taxes on everything,” she said, also last week. “We get taxed on paychecks and then, every dollar we spend gets taxed.”

Abolishing the grocery tax “would help everybody regardless of your social or economic background.”

Watkins, 41, a New Orleans native who has worked in newspapers since 19, said the economy is what prodded her to run for office in the first place.

“The economy...should work for everyone who participates in it,” she said.

But she is also concerned about Atlanta’s sprawl into the Hall County area.

“I feel like our green space is disappearing — that we’re becoming Atlanta,” said Watkins, also a Brenau graduate. “I moved to the suburbs because I didn’t want all the traffic or every inch of our community to become concrete.”

Dunahoo, who raised his family in Hall County and has worked in the logistics, storage and real estate businesses, said while fixing the tax system is what pushed him to seek office, he gets huge satisfaction from helping constituents with a wide range of issues — from battles with insurance to getting driver’s licenses.

“I start every morning with an agenda that has 10 things on it, and I’ll accomplish three,” he said.

But then, public service isn’t about self-gain, he said.

It’s about “helping constituents who need help,” Dunahoo said.

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Rep. Emory Dunahoo, R-Gillsville, talks about projections for the 2018 state budget during the Eggs and Issues breakfast in Gainesville. - photo by Nick Bowman

Emory Dunahoo

Age: 61

Residence: Gillsville

Experience: In his seventh year as state legislator, he has business experience in logistics, storage and real estate.

More info: emorydunahoo.com

On the issues

Education

Students need to have dual-enrollment opportunities but also “different things where we can help (ones) who aren’t going to college — the opportunity to go to a trade school or see what (careers) they might want to (pursue).”

Health care

“Our biggest problem is indigent care. We’re never slowing it down. We’re never hitting it head-on.” Another worry is rural health care. “We have towns in South Georgia dying … because of doctors not wanting to go practice there.”

Criminal justice

Noting Georgia’s development of specialized court systems, such as drug court, “I feel like we’ll expand on that more, because everybody in the federal government is starting to look at Georgia on what we’re doing right.”

Gun control

He doesn’t see any legislative changes if Republican Brian Kemp is elected governor. “We will contain our Second Amendment right to carry and bear arms. … We’re not having mass murders or shootings by law-abiding citizens. 

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Alana Watkins talks during a Democratic primary debate in Flowery Branch in April. - photo by Nick Bowman
Alana Watkins

Age: 41

Residence: Gainesville

Experience: A newcomer to politics, she is circulation director with the Forsyth County News.

More info: alanaforgeorgia.com

On the issues

Education

“I believe every school needs a dedicated psychologist. It would not only help deal with some disciplinary issues, but … they could help teach kids some social skills, so they can become good citizens in our community.”

Health care

She wants to address overcrowded nursing homes and expanding Medicaid “in certain areas.” However, she added, “if we were to expand Medicaid, people need to pay something for their health insurance. Nothing in this world is for free.”

Criminal justice

“Drug users do not need to be incarcerated. They need rehabilitation. I’m tired of paying tax dollars for the recidivism rate going up and up and up for drug users. We need more state-run rehab centers.”

Gun control

A concealed weapons license holder, she supports gun rights. “The only legislation I think is necessary is we need to have a way for mental health workers and professionals to petition the court in the case of a person who owns guns and is dangerous to the public.”

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