Jobs, jobs, jobs
by Ashley Fuller
afuller@cherokeetribune.com
June 27, 2010 12:00 AM | 6803 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
State Rep. Charlice Byrd (R-Woodstock), left, has a laugh with campaign volunteer Jackie Ball of Marietta as volunteers Maria Zack of Towne Lake and David Parker of Woodstock talk about the campaign on Friday. Rep. Byrd is seeking her fourth four-year term in the July 20 Republican primary and faces a challenge from political newcomer Michael Caldwell. <br>Photo by Samantha Wilson
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Job creation is a top issue in the Republican primary race for state House District 20 serving southern Cherokee County.

Incumbent state Rep. Charlice Byrd (R-Woodstock) is seeking a fourth four-year term and faces a challenge from political newcomer Michael Caldwell of Woodstock.

The winner of the July 20 primary election will go on to face Democrat Lillian Burnaman in November's general election.

The district includes Towne Lake, southwest Cherokee and portions of Woodstock.

Mrs. Byrd, 58, said she wants to continue her service at the state Capitol.

"I believe that my work is not complete," she said.

She said job creation is a top priority for her, as the state government should be proactive in attracting jobs to Georgia, specifically life science jobs.

"People always need to heal, fuel and feed," she said about the importance of life science jobs. "Those jobs are recession proof."

Other related priorities, she said, include studying the tax code and developing more incentives to get businesses to the state.

Another major area of concern for Rep. Byrd is transportation, noting Cherokee will be part of the metro Atlanta effort to pass a referendum asking residents to support a 1-cent sales tax for regional transit projects. She said Highways 20 and 140, along with Interstate 575, are among the county's roadways that need attention.

"We need to be sure we have as much say in the region as everyone else," she said. A 21-member regional roundtable will be made up of all county commission chairpersons, a mayor from each county and the mayor of Atlanta.

Other important issues for Rep. Byrd include helping counties conserve water.

"We need to figure out how we can get reservoirs up and running quicker," she said.

She said the issue of illegal immigration often comes up while talking to constituents.

The state government, she said, should make employers more accountable such as by using E-Verify, a program that compares information on an employee's employment eligibility verification form to data from the federal government.

A retired educator, Rep. Byrd earned an elementary education degree from Southeast Louisiana University. She is a member of the Cherokee County Friends of the Library, Cherokee County Historical Society, Georgia Federation of Republican Women and Towne Lake Optimist Club

Rep. Byrd and her husband, Mike, live in Eagle Watch and attend First Baptist Woodstock.

Caldwell, 20, said his candidacy is a service to the community he credits for giving him "a world of opportunities."

"This community has given me a lot," said the Towne Lake resident, who graduated from Etowah High School in 2007 and in May from Kennesaw State University with a degree in finance.

He said the way to bring jobs into the state is through tax considerations.

"I want to make us more appealing through the tax structure," he said, which could include tax breaks, incentives, or even a new way of taxation, such as going to a consumption-based tax.

Caldwell said he also would like to see a more local approach to transportation solutions, adding local governments should be given control over funding.

"Let them decide what makes more sense for their area," he said.

Other issues Caldwell said are important to him include education, noting he attends county school board meetings; and term limits and campaign finance reform, including ending the practice of political campaigns donating to each other "to keep themselves in power."

Caldwell is unemployed, but plans to seek a job in sales or start own company after election. He is single and attends Hillside United Methodist Church, where he also volunteers.
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