Before you go out to vote tomorrow, find out how the candidates for the 53rd Senatorial district stand on issues.  Jeff Mullis and Lanny Thomas are squaring off tomorrow for the contested seat. Voters will decide if Jeff Mullis should be sent back to Atlanta for his sixth term in the Georgia General Assembly or if it is time for a change.

All on Georgia provided both candidates with an opportunity to answer questions about their candidacy. Both candidates were emailed questions and asked to return them, Mr. Thomas responded, Senator Mullis did not.

lanny
Lanny Thomas
mullis
Jeff Mullis

All On Georgia: In one paragraph, please explain why you are seeking public office?

THOMAS: I am seeking public office for the same reasons I became an educator, coach, and Deacon. I enjoy working and serving others. An educator serves his students. A coach serves his players. A deacon serves the members of his church. A senator serves the people of his district. I look forward to working for and serving the people of the 53rd district.

MULLIS:

No response

All On Georgia: What makes your district unique? (Limit 150 words)

THOMAS:

The 53rd district is a unique place. It consists of four counties and several municipalities. I have maintained residence in this area my entire life. I have been blessed to have traveled to several places around the world. There are not many places I’ve seen as beautiful as the ridges and valleys of North Georgia.  Yet what is most unique about the 53rd district are the people.  The cities, small towns, and bucolic communities which lie in this area thrive with good honest people who work hard and have strong family ties. These unique people are the people I wish to serve.

MULLIS:

No response

All On Georgia: What will be the most difficult part of your job, if elected?

THOMAS:

If elected, I will be new to the job. There will definitely be a learning curve. However, I am a fast learner. The first elected position I ever served was as Mayor of Trion. I had no previous experience or knowledge of the job. The town had no city manager. I had to learn quickly how to run a town. I can do the same as a senator. Another area of difficulty in the job will be returning all calls, texts, emails, etc. This will take some time. I do not want any of my constituents who wish to communicate with me to feel as if I am unattainable.

MULLIS:

No response

All on Georgia: Do our state ethics laws need to be changed?

THOMAS:

I know that ethics is an important element in political jobs. That is one reason I strove as Mayor to make the Town of Trion a “City of Ethics.” I am proud to say we accomplished that goal.  At the State level, I would like to see us take a good long look at campaign contributions. I know my opponent has accumulated a large amount of funding. Only around 15% of this money has come from within the 53rd district.

MULLIS:

No response

All on Georgia: What are the top 3 issues facing the State of Georgia?

THOMAS:

One of the major issues facing Georgia is religious liberty. One bill, “Georgia Religious Freedom Restoration Act” was recently vetoed by Governor Deal.  I applaud the legislature for attempting to protect the religious freedom of business and pastors. These Bills seem to be aimed at pre‐emptive measures to protect the values and religious beliefs of many in Georgia.  I really do not foresee any court in the land ruling to make a pastor perform a wedding he /she does not feel comfortable in doing based on his or her religion.  Another issue facing Georgia is unemployment.  Bureau of Labor Statistics from February 2016 shows Georgia ranked 34th with an unemployment rate of 5.4. Several Counties in the 53rd have an unemployment rate much higher than the average of Georgia. One other issue facing Georgia is transportation. Many bridges in our state and in our district are old.  These bridges will need to be repaired or replaced. The state will need to work closely with local government in mending or replacing the old bridges and roads.

Mullis:

No response

All on Georgia: What is your No. 1 Legislative priority?

THOMAS:

My number one legislative priority will depend mainly on how the nonbinding vote in Walker County goes concerning how they wish to be governed. If it is a strong showing toward a form of government of a council instead of a sole commissioner, my priority will be to work toward that end. Other than that, I really have no agenda or main legislative priority except to represent the people of the 53rd district in Atlanta.

MULLIS:

No response

All on Georgia: What sets you apart from your opponent?

THOMAS:

This is an easy question to answer. My opponent is an established politician in the Senate. He has been in office for more than a decade. This is my first attempt at becoming a senator. I understand that many might see this as a negative. People may see me as someone with no experience at the state level. I understand their concerns. However, I have been successful in many areas of my life when I have had no experience. The first political position I served was Mayor of Trion. I had a successful tenure as Mayor. As regards to the state level, I have no relations with any of the senators or lobbyist at the Capital. The funding for my campaign is coming from the people of the 53rd district. I will use my experience as Mayor to work closely with the towns and cities of the 53rd district.

MULLIS:

No response

All On Georgia: Would you say Georgians are taxed too high, too low, or just right? Please explain.

THOMAS:

This question is a difficult one to answer. There are several ways in which the State of Georgia collects taxes. Some areas might be excessive while other areas might be otherwise.  I have never heard anyone say he or she was excited to get to pay his or her taxes. However, it is a necessity we must have in order to sustain a functional lifestyle at the local and state level. Currently, Georgia is ranked somewhat in the middle of the pack with an overall 23rd ranking in regard to taxing the people. I would like to see that we are good stewards of our tax dollars and work toward lowering all taxes.

MULLIS:

No response

All on Georgia: Do you feel it is appropriate for the state to offer incentives to private businesses in an effort to sway decision making on locations, expansions, or conducting business in the state? If yes, how should such incentives be allocated and decided upon?

THOMAS: Our nation is a capitalistic one. We have a system of free market. All States across the country compete to attract business to their area. Georgia must entice business to develop here. It is good to offer these incentives to private businesses to locate in Georgia; however, we must maintain a feasible plan with the businesses to provide not only jobs, but financial backing at local and state levels as well. The state should work closely with the counties and local municipalities to find ways to obtain good industry growing initiatives.

MULLIS:

No response

All on Georgia: What are Georgia’s infrastructure needs, of any, and how should they be addressed?

THOMAS:

As I mentioned earlier, Georgia has structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges. The state must work closely with local government in the repairing or the rebuilding of these bridges. Another infrastructure need which doesn’t get much press coverage is solid waste disposal. Our state has such low fees at landfills; other states are bringing their solid waste to our sites. We must also do more to educate the people of Georgia about recycling. Georgia’s parks are facing problems. The funding of our parks is largely produced by fees and donations. Some forms of grants are providing some funding. However, the maintenance and operations of parks in Georgia have gone up while funding has gone down.

MULLIS:

No response

All on Georgia: Define your position on the Second Amendment:

THOMAS:

The world today is so much different than the one I grew up in. We have mass shootings way too often. We have a constant threat of terrorism in our country.  School shootings have become way too common. Many are calling for gun control.  As a boy, I hunted the woods of Walker County. I loved my first gun. I still have it! The people of this country and state should not be impeded in the owning of any gun.  I hope we can find ways to continue education of fire arms and their uses.

MULLIS:

No response

All on Georgia: What role does the State of Georgia have with regard to immigration?

THOMAS:

The role of the state of Georgia is to take legal immigrants and utilize their knowledge and skills. We need to place them in the work force. We must educate their children. With regard to Illegal immigrants, we must find a way to stop this act of breaking our law. The United States should be a welcoming nation to others. However, others need to become citizens properly and legally.

MULLIS:

No response

All on Georgia: How will you approach the concern over “Two Georgia’s”, meaning, how laws may affect Atlanta and non-metro areas differently?

THOMAS:

I understand the concept of “Two Georgia’s.”  Atlanta is the major city of Georgia and has the major impact on our economy. We must strive to find a balance between the two concepts. I will be representing the people of northwest Georgia. I will vote on issues on behalf of the people of the 53rd district. I will also keep in mind that I do not wish to prevent Atlanta from growing by placing restrictive laws and regulations. If it ever comes down to a choice between the two, I will vote on the side of the people of the 53rd district.

MULLIS:

No response

All on Georgia: What is one thing you would like voters to know about you that they currently so not know?

THOMAS:

Some people may or may not know, I was a former Democrat. My grandfather on my father’s side was born in 1901. He was a BIG democrat. I can’t say what he thought of Republicans. He raised my father to be a Democrat. I was pretty much raised one as well. Over the past few years, I have grown disgruntled with the philosophy and ideologies of the Democratic Party. I really do believe my religious and financial conservative ideas are the same as my grandfather’s. However, in order to keep the heritage, he and my father built, I must make a political change. I know this would have made my mother proud. She was always a Republican.

MULLIS:

No response

All on Georgia: Are you pro-life?

THOMAS:

Yes, I am prolife. My wife and our younger children have supported our local Crises Pregnancy Center by donating baby bottles full of change over the past several years. I have been asked by them to speak on their behalf at a Church.

MULLIS:

No response

All on Georgia: Do you believe that religious institutions that except state and or federal funding should be allowed to discriminate based on their religious beliefs?

THOMAS:

Our Nation was built from Christian people. The people first came to America to seek freedom to worship the way they wished and not be dictated by the government as to how they worshiped. Henceforth came the idea to separate the government from interfering with the way people worshiped. If the government gives money to any institute, there WILL be strings attached to the money in the form of rules and regulations. One such rule is that there is no discrimination. If the institute accepts the funding, then the institute must accept the strings attached to the funding.

MULLIS:

No response

 

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