Staff Photo: Camie Young Commissioner Mike Beaudreau, left, and challenger Tommy Hunter participate in a forum Wednesday, preparing voters for Tuesday's Republican primary runoff for the District 3 slot.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- Experience and questions of ethics brought out political fireworks Wednesday, less than a week before a runoff determines a county commission race and two judgeships.
The biggest fight occurred between State Court candidates Emily Brantley and Pam Britt, when Britt blasted her opponent for a recent mailer calling her a "liberal Democrat."
Brantley pointed out that Britt voted in the 2008 Democratic presidential preference primary and printed a picture of Britt at a Democratic party event.
"I thought the voters had a right to know," she said, adding that a major complaint from constituents is that politicians lie during campaigns. "I did set the record straight."
At the GOP event, though, Britt called herself a conservative, said she has voted Republican in six of the past seven primaries and only attended a Democrat event to campaign in the nonpartisan race.
"I've made a point to reach out to all the people," she said. "That is why it is a nonpartisan race, because judges represent all the people in the community."
The two also sparred on experience, with Britt pointing toward her work in criminal cases and Brantley citing her extensive civil practice in campaigning for a court where 75 percent of the cases are civil.
Experience was also the hot topic in the Superior Court runoff race between Kathy Schrader and Tracey Mason Blasi.
Blasi touted her work in real estate and other taxpayer issues, while Schrader said she has more experience in family matters, also a big portion of the court's function.
"You don't send a quarterback into the Super Bowl that never played football before," Schrader said. "The courtroom is the battlefield of the law. ... I am a seasoned general on that battlefield."
Blasi also talked about her experience as a mediator, saying the practice can save thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of court time if it is used, especially in divorce cases.
"We've gotten to a point where we have to focus on the differences," Blasi said. "I feel like I am the only candidate who fights for taxpayers."
Heated discussions on experience also overshadowed the debate between District 3 commission candidates Tommy Hunter and incumbent Mike Beaudreau, who will square off in the GOP primary runoff Tuesday.
Beaudreau, who is seeking his third term, talked about his "track record" on issues such as cutting government spending and balancing development issues.
Hunter, who has worked on the county staff and boards, said as an engineer he knows how to direct the county staff on issues such as water and transportation. He also talked about running government like a home -- cutting expenses when the economy gets bad.
And both promised to work on gaining public trust after recent scandals rocked the county.
"I've served with some good people and some not-so-good people," Beaudreau said, adding that he was truthful in recent investigations and those who had done wrong were being held accountable. He also touted his monthly constituent meetings as a way to stay in touch with people. "Being a commissioner is about balance, and I have that track record."
While Beaudreau accused Hunter of working for "land barons" financing his campaign, Hunter said his pursuit of the office is all about making Gwinnett a better place for his kids.
"I'm asking people to put a little trust in me," he said. "Give me a shot. I won't make a fool of you."