Rural voters decide balance of power - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Rural voters decide balance of power

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October 24, 2004

Irwin County -- The battle for House Seat 154 will not only decide who represents several rural South Georgia county's it may also help decided the balance of power in the State House.

Incumbent State Representative Jay Roberts started what he hopes will be a new trend in his district.

"I'm the first Republican ever elected for this seat,"says Roberts.

Now that Republicans hold most of North Georgia's house seats it will be up to South Georgia's conservative, but heavily democratic rural voters to decide if Democrats maintain control.

"Voters down here are conservatives people and they are starting to look at the national platforms and look at people like Senator Miller who is telling them the Democratic party is leaving them. They are starting to relate better to conservative platform of the Republican party,"says Roberts.

But the life long farmer says he hasn't played partisan politics and if re-elected plans to continue his efforts to strengthen agriculture and provide better education for his constituents.

"I want to continue to strive to work to give our teachers the tools that they need," says Roberts. But Robert's Democratic challenger Lon Hamilton says the incumbent can't possibly care that much about education because he's voted against teacher pay raises and that's not all.

"The second part of that is that he voted against health care. He voted for the Governor's budget reduction. He voted against health care," says Hamilton.

The Telfair Chamber of Commerce Chairman and business owner says if he's elected he will respect the values of voters and work to strengthen the district's economic engine and stop job outsourcing.

 "We think a Southern Democrat is different from that ones in Atlanta or the one from Washington. We are still very conservative," says Hamilton.

Now it will be up rural voters to decide if the balance of power will possibly shift in the state house of representatives.

The two candidates will face off in a debate Monday night at 7:00 at the Kiwanis Club in Fitzgerald.

posted at 5:50PM by scott.hunter@walb.com