Republicans to pick new leader

The Gwinnett Republican Party will have a new leader after this weekend's convention.

Delegates will choose between Steve Ramey and Chuck Efstration during a 10 a.m. session at Collins Hill High School.

Efstration, a 25-year-old assistant district attorney, was the leader of the Georgia Association of College Republicans and has served on the local party's executive board for the past year. He was a paid staffer on Gov. Sonny Perdue's 2002 campaign and worked on Sen. Brian Kemp's 2004 race. He grew up in Lilburn and now lives in Dacula.

"I am running for chairman of the Gwinnett GOP because I want to see a renewed focus on grassroots organization within the party," he wrote in an e-mail. "If elected, I will bring energy and political experience to a party that must improve membership outreach, increase fundraising, and begin to have a presence at more community events."

Ramey, a Buford native who now lives in Lilburn, is a local businessman, a war veteran and former world bench-press champion who held state, national and world records.

He won the party's "Goldwater Award for 2008."

This weekend, Gwinnett's Democrats will hear from Gen. David Poythress, who is running for governor in 2010.

The breakfast is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. at the Georgia Diner on Pleasant Hill Road. Party leaders ask that attendees bring canned food to donate to the Salvation Army.

Unterman praises budget work

Sen. Renee Unterman had words of praise for legislators, who passed a balanced state budget this week, during tough economic times.

The budget included $2 billion in cuts.

"We accomplished this (budget) without raising taxes. We prioritized the needs of Georgians and cut wasteful spending," she said in a statement. "While Washington D.C. saddles us with over $1 trillion dollars in debt, the Assembly worked together and passed this budget without a single 'pork barrel' project."

The Buford senator pointed out that the budget protects the $428 million Homeowners' Tax Relief Grant, cuts state legislative office budgets by 8 percent, restores mental health funds, addresses consumer protection by providing for four new food safety inspectors, and achieves $10.5 million in savings from lower interest rates after selling state bonds.

She lauded the fact that Georgia has maintained the state's triple-A bond rating, which helps the state's economy because it keeps interest rates low.