* Residence: Woodstock
* Political Experience: Candidate for state representative, 2010 and 2012
* Occupation: Regional sales manager
* Education: Bachelor’s degree, Business Finance, Kennesaw State University
* Family: Wife: Katie Caldwell
* What makes you the best qualified for the position you are seeking?
Cherokee County is my home. My wife and I both grew up in Towne Lake and live in Woodstock. We attend and were married at Hillside UMC and both attended Cherokee County Public Schools. I am a Regional Sales Manager for a Woodstock-based business. Having taken a direct role in quadrupling the size of a business here in our county, I can confidently say that I understand what it takes to build business here and how to keep the state out of the way. I believe that our legislature could benefit from a state representative who will act as a “Working Citizen Legislator”.
* What do you see as the most pressing problem Cherokee County is facing and how would you solve it through the state legislature?
The most pressing issue facing Cherokee County is education. As our community decides what choices should be afforded parents and how we fund an educational system for a growing county, I have been working for years to set in motion an improved relationship between legislators and our school board. The first step to improving that relationship is attendance. I have attended every school board meeting for nearly four years with the exception of two: one for my honeymoon and one to begin a new job. By developing a working, familiar relationship with each individual board member, legislators begin a conversation rather than facilitating a reciprocal blaming match.
* What, if anything, will you do to increase state education funding?
Quality Based Education (QBE) is the current funding formula used under Georgia’s code for funding our public schools. Under this formula, the state is expected to provide unrealistic amounts of funding which effectively leads to an annual broken promise to our schools. These expectations are so outlandish in fact that if QBE were to be fully funded the entire annual budget for the state of Georgia wouldn’t be enough to cover the cost.
In order to begin mending the relationship between boards across this state and our legislature, we must start by solving this crucial financial error. We need a funding formula that calculates expectations based on actual revenues rather than variables cooked up by legislators nearly 30 years ago. This sort of budgeting wouldn’t work for me in my business, it doesn’t work for the state in building an educated work force, and it doesn’t work for school systems striving to create realistic budgets and expectations for their employees and students.
* Do you support House Bill 1162 and charter schools? Will charter schools take funding away from regular public schools and if not, where will the money come from?
My wife and I were both graduates of CCSD, and I am proud to say that I believe we have some of the most phenomenal schools and teachers in the United States right here in Cherokee County. I also support Cherokee Charter Academy and the concept of charter schools, even in an environment where schools are excellent. Charter schools provide a very important element for an educational system: competition. This is not competition centered on forcing the teachers to perform better but competition for the administrators and the school system as a whole. By allowing a charter school to compete (held to the same standards and on a level playing field with traditional public schools), we create a more efficient and better education for all students. I am also a proponent of local control of local funds. I do not believe that it is right for a state legislator to use state authority to trample on local rights. In the same way that I find myself frustrated with Congress for overstepping state sovereignty I do not believe state legislators should be overstepping local control. If we wish for local boards to spend local funds in different ways, we should fight to elect a new local board.
* Voters are getting the chance to vote on a referendum on a HOST tax to be used to reduce property taxes, primarily for homeowners? Do you support that tax and why or why not?
This initiative is an exemption of property tax responsibility with revenue driven from a sales tax. I have always advocated for consumption-based taxation over taxation based on income and property. Property taxes in particular are simply an undermining of private property ownership, as you are continually paying “rent” to the government in the form of taxes on property that you own outright. Taxing based on consumption is a form of revenue generated that is tied to the free-market and allows citizens to decide when they pay taxes, granting power to the people rather than the government.