Georgia Democrats have a rich history of business and political leadership providing vision for a better Georgia.
Georgia Democrat legends such as James "Bubba" Dunlap, Richard Russell, Jerry Jackson and Phil Landrum raised Georgia to a level as one of the undisputed business growth and quality-of-living leaders in the United States.
Interstate 985, Lake Lanier, Gainesville College, the federal North Georgia Judicial District were all born from Democratic leadership vision. These assets continue to serve today as part of the backbone to the Hall County identity and success.
Georgia Democrats brought to the international community the recognition of Georgia's riches. From that global relationship was born the 1996 Olympics and the legacy of the Clark's Bridge rowing venue on Lake Lanier.
The contribution of the Georgia Democrats past leadership to fulfilling a vision serves as a path to once again raise Georgia to its full potential.
In 2010, all Georgians feel the impact of the economic times we are in. Anger is shared across party lines. We are in a period of uncertainty and distrust of all levels of government.
A key item we demand of our leaders in this election is fiscal responsibility. Since 2003, the governor and, since 2005, a majority of both Houses of the Georgia legislature have been held by members of the Republican Party. The campaign platforms of both former Gov. Roy Barnes and Nathan Deal, addressing Georgia's existing poor business and tax environment, reflect directly on the policies advocated by eight years of Republican leadership under the Gold Dome.
In contrast, with the 2002 lingering economic challenges the attacks on 9/11 presented to the United States and Georgia, the Cato Institute, a respected conservative, free market, limited government think tank, rated Barnes as the third most fiscally responsible governor in the U.S. The rating is based on promoting economic growth and the control of state spending and taxes.
The foundation for economic success was established early in Gov. Barnes' term when he proposed a Taxpayers Bill of Rights and was able to cut property taxes by approximately $250 million.
Georgia Democrats believe the most important investment we can make is a guaranteed quality education for Georgia's children. Regardless if a child is raised in affluent parts of Atlanta or in poverty-stricken districts of rural Georgia, all students should have access to quality public education.
Driving quality public education is the recognition and affirmation of the authority of local school boards, while bringing teachers into any discussion of needed improvements. At the university level, we support growing a strong HOPE Scholarship program as first envisioned by Georgia Democrats.
In Hall County we have started working with charter schools as a modification to our educational structure. Georgia Democrats support choice of charter schools as long as the choice remains the responsibility of local education boards, not the result of federal or state legislation.
Just as education is an investment in the children, we must also commit to leaving future generations an environment as safe and majestic as the parents and grandparents of the community left us.
Hall County is fortunate to be located in the most gorgeous and geographically diverse area of Georgia. We have easy access to fishing, hunting and hiking venues. Georgia Democrats support development and continued preservation of public lands and wildlife areas.
Along with the respect of nature's gifts, Georgia Democrats are passionate in affirming the right of every citizen to clean and safe air and water. We support common-sense growth in finding the balance between good stewardship of the earth and good business. Importantly, we support responsible allocation of existing water resources with a mind on the affected Georgia communities and the promotion of new reservoirs so we may maintain the full benefits of Lake Lanier.
Despite what some would want you to believe, Georgia Democrats recognize government is not the solution to every problem. We expect the role of government to be a bridge to independence, to give a hand up, not a hand out. Government is responsible to serve as a vehicle for Georgia residents to ensure the fiscal soundness, safety and protection in the workplace and home.
Georgia Democratic leaders continue to have the vision passed from the legacy of our past leaders for a fierce and independent dedication to the values that have driven and will continue to drive Georgia to new levels of greatness.
The success of our Democratic past provides a vision for once again obtaining our future accomplishments. Vote Nov. 2.
Jim Taflinger is chairman of the Hall County Democratic Party.