Though Gerry Purcell and Roger Hines are campaigning for two very different offices, both men share a common belief that the citizens of Georgia need a more efficient state government with better leadership.
Purcell and Hines were the guest speakers at the March 15 meeting of the Barrow County Republican Party.
Purcell, candidate for insurance commissioner, said the current crop of politicians is ill equipped to deal with the challenges facing the state.
“Those who lead us into the mess - and we are in a mess - are usually not the ones who will lead us out of the mess,” he said. “What I am hearing from thousands of Georgians is that it is time for new leaders.”
Purcell, a cancer survivor, has worked in the insurance industry for the past 15 years and said he has the experience to be an effective insurance commissioner.
“When I say that we can fix healthcare without the federal government, I know how to do it,” he said. “There is no reason to destroy 90 percent of what is working to fix a 10 percent problem.”
Purcell said the only way to fix the current problems with the health care system is through the free market.
According to Purcell, Georgia has some of the highest insurance costs in the country due in part to 45 mandates currently required under state law. Purcell said Georgia also has the second highest health care tax in America – a 4.75 percent tax added to the cost of every insurance policy in the state of Georgia.
“It is a bad idea,” Purcell said. “It ends up costing our state billions of dollars in lost business.”
While conceding that the tax could not be repealed immediately, Purcell said costs could still be lowered by allowing citizens to buy insurance across state lines. Purcell said, if elected, he would work to reform the tax code to eliminate the premium tax which he refers to as a $700 million hidden tax.
“We’ve got some huge challenges ahead of us,” Purcell said.
State school superintendent candidate Roger Hines is also facing huge challenges if elected in November. With education comprising a sizeable portion of the state budget, Hines said cuts to the state budget are necessarily cuts to education.
Hines, a teacher with 42 years of experience, said he has one primary reason for seeking the office of school superintendent.
“All I have in mind in running for state school superintendent is the wellbeing of every individual and family in this state,” he said.
Hines said education is critical to that wellbeing.
“I’m running because 92 percent of Georgia school age children went to a public school this morning,” he said. For this reason, Hines said it is critical that schools are made “as good as we can.”
Hines vowed that, if elected, he would resist the federalization of education, attack the drop-out rate, advocate for teachers and maintain a sound and sensible curriculum.
Hines also expressed his belief that state and federally mandated testing are cutting into instructional time and hurting both students and teachers.
“It is killing the spirit, it is killing the joy of teaching and it is killing the magic of learning,” he said.
Hines advocated a back to basics approach with more emphasis on “reading, writing, calculating and thinking.”
“I do not want to be a bureaucrat,” Hines said. “I want to be a leader that helps people do their job which is to teach.”
Gubernatorial candidate Eric Johnson and insurance commissioner hopeful Harold Logsdon will be the guest speakers at the April 19 meeting of the Barrow County Republican Party.
The meeting will be held at the Winder Woman’s Club located at 15 West Midland Avenue in Winder. The meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. and is open to the public.
For more information, visit www.barrowgop.com or join the Barrow County Republican Party on Facebook.