Today we are delighted to bring to you our first interview with a candidate for the state's highest office. The 2010 election for Georgia Governor will be an extremely exciting event in the political life and destiny of the state. We would like to help the people of Georgia decide this year by bringing each candidate to you. In the weeks ahead we will bring the candidates to you, along with other key figures in the political life in Georgia. Please check in each Friday afternoon to stay ahead of the 2010 Election and get the facts for yourself.
Examiner: Mr. Camon, I'm so excited that you have joined us today for the Friday Policy Plug. 2010 is a big year for Georgia and the people are anxious to meet the candidates and hear more from them. Why don't we dive right into it.
You stress in your platform the desire to provide educational opportunities that will provide in higher paying jobs. Does this imply that you have given up on labor and the blue-collar jobs that have for so long provided an economic base for working people?
Carl Camon: - No, not at all. In Georgia we have a great deal of blue collar jobs now. So in addition to the high-tech jobs, we’d like to secure labor in Georgia for all Georgia workers- blue, white or whatever collar. We want to be sure we are able to provide jobs in whatever areas people would like to work. Wherever the desire is- college, technical or any other field- we need to make sure the opportunity is there because in Georgia, we need jobs period. But I still contend that we need more high-tech, high paying jobs as a whole. Georgians are just as, if not more, intelligent than any other citizens in the union. At the same time, again, I am not one to turn my back on labor. In fact, on June 4th in our official announcement at the capital, we said clearly that we’d like to represent those people in labor and stand with them to make sure their rights are protected and that they are not exploited.
Examiner: You say you would like to cut “wasteful” spending. What areas particularly are you looking to make cuts to the state’s budget and how much will this impact the state’s deficit?
Carl Camon: First, the cuts need to be focused on areas that we may not have a need for right now but we’re paying for. For instance, the energy used to operate our state buildings could be converted to solar- thereby cutting the expenses we’re currently using in electricity. The same could be said of water. Waterless urinals could easily installed that would save a great deal just in water expenses. Bottom line, if we’re telling people to cut, we have to lead by example at the state level. 2 billion has been cut from education the last 7 years. That’s one place we will not be cutting. It’s a bit premature to definitively say right now the precise areas though. It may just be using resources more effectively. We can definitely start with energy conservation. But let me be clear on this: we will not be looking to cut services from the people of Georgia. They have suffered enough. In looking to conserve, those of us in government must start with what we control- government.
Examiner: What support will you look to offer to help in the creation of small businesses?
Carl Camon: I think the state potentially has an exciting opportunity with the Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism. I think we could work with them, empowering them to work regionally to provide incentives in various forms. Most obvious would be tax breaks. I especially think that we need to look at those who are willing to hire people at the small business level. It is all the more important considering the economically challenging times we’re in that we really consider them for incentives, tax breaks etc. We want to empower the Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism to focus more on small businesses so small business in Georgia can remain viable.
Examiner: In allocating stimulus funds, you say you would like to support the expansion of existing businesses. Which ones will you primarily look to support?
Carl Camon: Again, we need to especially look at those businesses that are solid and have to do with technology and supporting the wave of the future. We want to be sure we invest in things that have a return. That being, citizens employed with more money in their pockets, employed longer and paying taxes to help us get out of the slump we’re in.
Examiner: How would you like to restructure the welfare system? What is to be done about those who go back to work but can’t make ends meet because of the disparity between wages and cost of living?
Carl Camon: I believe sending someone back to work from the welfare system with no support at all is a bad idea. It’s like sending someone home from heart surgery without any instruction. Same applies to people receiving services because of the situation that we’re in. Supports like childcare come to mind. Much of the problem is that parents can’t afford childcare. Thus, it actually works out for them in many cases to make a minimal amount and stay home with their kids rather than work and spend their entire income on childcare, insurance etc. I, in particular, encourage citizens to come together and collaborate together about these issues as to how we can proceed in a way that’s best for all of us. We need a solid foundation for people returning to work. Even tax credits to help them in transition might be an option. That may seem like a drain on the system at first glance but in the long term, its better to invest upfront. What people may not be considering is that as they work they will begin to contribute to the system, make income so that they can buy goods and services etc.- that helps the economy move.
Examiner: Given the budgetary constraints the DOT is facing, how do you plan to finance the transit initiatives you propose, like high-speed rail for the state?
Carl Camon: I think we must look at this in phases. Some say it will cost 5 million per mile for high speed rail. I think what we can do with the amount of money we’re spending on our highways now, medical care, carcinogens (elements that cause ppl to have lung cancer etc), trauma care as a result to highway travel, asphalt, concrete etc to keep our current roads up-.if you compare that with the people mass transit can carry without those factors- money spent on roads, fuels, insurance for autos etc. we’d actually do much better. I think we could evaluate this critically and do this in phases at the state level. For instance, if you’re not spending money on gas and insurance, you can spend that on high-speed rail. If you’re not spending that on resurfacing roads, widening roads and taking 3-5 years to complete just one project, it can be done. I’ve served in the military and I’ve seen firsthand how this has worked in Europe and other places. Sometimes, you may not have all you need upfront to make things happen but you have to make the initial investment. If you combine all those revenues you can start in phases. Perhaps it may make sense to start in Atlanta. There’s been approval for a line from Atlanta to Chattanooga. Personally, I’d be more focused on starting high-speed rail within Georgia, not necessarily from state to state. This will also provide jobs for ppl.
Examiner: In seeking to attract businesses to the state, how will you ensure that those businesses are held in check as it regards to consuming resources from the state but not putting back into the state and its people?
Carl Camon: The businesses that we attract to Georgia, we have to come with some agreement upfront. We both need to meet each other in the middle. Larger corporations will actually contribute to a state often because it makes them look good in the state. It’s just really important that at the outset we make it clear that you’re not coming to Georgia just to win and leave us high and dry. This is for you to come, our people get good, high paying jobs and that we both benefit. That has hurt a lot of cities in Georgia. They make deals with companies but their citizens get left with the bag and the bag is often empty. For instance, the machinery they have, they often get tax write-offs. I understand the logic in the short term, but if you do this every single year, long term, then who pays for that? Citizens. So my goal as Governor is that we put citizens first. Many say “Carl, you’re a long shot.” But I’m in the same position that the people of Georgia have been in for some time. They’ve been long shots. They’ve been completely forgotten by those in power. I come with no strings attached. I’m not bound by special interests. I’d rather get 1000 $5 contributions than a $5000 contribution. That way I’m only accountable to the people. So if the ppl really want a leader to stand up for them- Democrats and Republicans, they will vote for me. I will stand up for them and I will not sell out like other politicians. When people tell me they’ve been in politics for 20 years, that tells me you’ve been part of the problem.
Examiner: In what ways would you work to improve what we’re doing in regards to preventive measures in the criminal justice system? It costs less to send a young man to Harvard than prison so what initiatives might we see in the future that would help change the cost structure and incarceration rates?
Carl Camon: I was actually a corrections officer for Georgia for two years. I founded a national Mayor’s Youth Leadership Institute, to keep young kids out of jail. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past 10-15 years. One thing I think the state can do is do everything we can to make sure that justice is just that- not just for a black man, white man, Jew or Gentile. Justice is for all Georgians. We need to make sure there is fairness in deliberation in terms of putting people behind bars and that the punishment fits the crime. We know there are disparities now and we want to do all we can to correct that. But also, we still need to let people know that if you do commit crimes you must serve your time. I’m an educator so I know that we can start programs in the schools to educate our children about the law and the consequences of breaking the law. I do also believe that we need to work on rehabilitating people who are in prison. The focus for decades has not been on rehabilitation, but on incarceration. In my view, incarceration without rehabilitation is a recipe for coming back to prison again. We need to do more to make sure while they’re in there we’re rehabilitating. We can teach them a trade or require them to invest in themselves so that when they get out they have options and we need to work so that when they do get out they have more employment options. We can work with professionals in the field and once they deem a person is rehabilitated and they’ve paid their debt to society, we need to get them integrated back into society, so that they can go to work. But when you go in and come out and can’t work it leads to other things and you’re back in. So you end up paying the debt to society again because you’re being punished by not being able to get a job because of having been incarcerated. The state can make sure people tried in court are given equal treatment from the start. We need to do what we can to reduce racial profiling and other things. But when all is said and done, the citizens need to make sure they do all the right things personally.
The bottom line, Mr. Hopewell, is the people of Georgia need to ask themselves, what better person to represent educators than an educator? What better person to represent military personnel than one who served? Who’s better to represent law enforcement than one who’s served in law enforcement? Who would be better to govern over the people at the local level, which collectively makes up our state, than one who has served and understands people at the local level. I bring all these attributes to the table as a candidate. I challenge any competitor to make that same claim. The people of Georgia would do well to consider that and not get caught up with other candidates who have fancy resumes or so many years of “experience.” My counter to their “experience” is to say, if you’ve been in state government for twenty years but we have the same problems, what does that say about the quality of that experience?
Examiner: Next week's guest will be Al Bartell, Independent candidate for Georgia Governor