Candidates for Congress seat face off

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

LAWRENCEVILLE -- While the political ads on television about the governor's race have shown a slugfest, candidates to replace U.S. Rep. John Linder in Congress shared applause and praise Thursday.

During a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters, Republican Rob Woodall hailed his opponent, Democrat Doug Heckman, for earning three Bronze Stars, and Heckman praised Woodall's expertise on some issues, as Linder's former chief of staff.

The two, though, have decidedly different views on how to govern.

"It doesn't have to be about the lesser of two evils. It can be a battle of ideas," said Woodall.

Both agreed that political philosophy is the difference between the two District 7 candidates on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Woodall takes a minimalistic approach to government, while Heckman, who describes himself as a moderate, believes that government can provide some solutions.

"You have to ask yourself, how much government do I want in my life?" Heckman said. "This is a choice, in my opinion, between going forward or going back and repealing all the work we've accomplished the past few years."

While Woodall wants to repeal the recent health care legislation, Heckman said portions should be changed. Woodall hopes to champion Linder's FairTax legislation, which would repeal corporate and income taxes, while Heckman favors a less drastic tax simplification proposal.

Both agreed that the U.S. border should be sealed, but Heckman added that he wanted to offer amnesty to illegal immigrants already in the country.

In the forum, where nearly 300 students, professors and community members came out to Georgia Gwinnett College, District 4 congressional candidate Liz Carter also answered questions, although her opponent Democrat incumbent Hank Johnson did not attend.

"District 4 has not had honorable representation for some time," Carter said. "We need people who are going to roll up their sleeves and actually get things done. ... We need to move this country forward."

The economy was on the minds of all of the candidates, with Republicans Carter and Woodall saying government should get out of the way of businesses so they can create jobs. Heckman said the government should join with private industry to create energy jobs.

Michelle Reese, president of the League of Women Voters, told a story about a man living in a tent who had to steal food.

"We can not afford, literally, to not vote," she said. "If you do nothing, you can count on nothing happening."