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A quick conversation with Cory Ruth

February 4, 2011 4 comments

I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Cory Ruth recently about issues that affect DeKalb County, and our little chat shed some insight on the man who once sought to replace Hank Johnson as the 4th distict representative from Georgia. We discussed several issues including his possible plans to seek elected office in 2012. He did not rule out a possible run for Congress again, but said he wanted to wait to see how the Legislature would handle redistricting of congressional lines. We both were in agreement that DeKalb should be consolidated into one or two congressional districts instead of the four districts we presently have. When asked if there was a local office he would run for, specifically CEO of DeKalb, he would only state that he had not decided, and would have to take a serious look at the numbers before he would even consider such a move. He reiterated that he would seek no office where he did not have a reasonable chance of winning. As a Republican, Ruth would have a hard time trying to get DeKalb’s top job.

We also talked developement opportunities in South DeKalb. He saw opportunity for South DeKalb to have economic growth in the near future. His pro-buisness approach was refreshing. He said he would love to talk to businesses who have located in counties outside of DeKalb to help determine what was it about DeKalb that turned them away. He also said he would talk with businesses in DeKalb and ask them why they are in DeKalb. He would use that info to try and lure more businesses to DeKalb. Given it’s proximity to the airport and access to several major interstates, Ruth found it hard to believe that Dekalb could not attract more businesses especially outside of the perimeter area. He also talked about how more businesses in DeKalb would put less strain on families who now spend up to two hours daily traveling to and from their places of employment. This, he believes would have a positive impact on parents who find it hard to be more active in their kids education and social lives.

When I asked if a Republican could win an elected office in DeKalb, he said yes, but would have to make some serious progress in convincing the African-American vote in South DeKalb that Republicans have a plan that will bring jobs and economic growth to the area. He pointed out me a project in New York where faith based and business organizations are reviving communities by providing educational opportunities, housing, and business support to local communities all without government intervention. Ruth believes that government intervention is not the complete answer to the ills that affect DeKalb, but he also said the old “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” adage is a not the only answer either.

Ruth strikes me as a common sense person who would definitely abandon the old ways of doing business. He is young, intelligent and very deliberate in his thoughts and ideas. Could he win a seat in Congress from DeKalb? Probably not. Could he be the next CEO of DeKalb? I would not bet my paycheck on it. If he were to decide to run for office again, he would have a mighty hill to climb to overcome entrenched Democrat loyalty in DeKalb. He says that he made some mistakes in his run for Congress in 2010, but that he learned from those mistakes and would do things differently a second time around. I for one would like to see him run for CEO of DeKalb. If the citizens of DeKalb truly want to see this county rise again, electing a fresh face and inserting some new ideas into the conversation will go a long way in making that rise possible. DeKalb needs a new direction and a new mindset. If we continue to go down the path we are presently on we will never return to the days when DeKalb was a place people actually wanted to live and play in.

Jones, Carter, Johnson only legit contenders for 4th district

July 12, 2010 8 comments

Stokes, Jones, Carter, and Gause were on time. Ruth and Amandariz made it there really late. Hank was a no show again

This weekend was a busy one for the 4th district candidates. They were on GPB TV Friday night, and low and behold, all  showed up in the heart of South DeKalb on Saturday except one(guess who?). I am not going to give a blow by blow of either event, after all, you pretty much know what is going to be said. What I will offer is what I took away from each event. Let us start with the long shots. Larry Gause is not going to win, but he has ideas that are interesting to say the least. He is an intellectual. People do not like intellectuals, ask Al Gore. Mr. Gause believes that the folks in Washington should stay at home most of the time and spend little time in Washington. It is something I am sure he could write a book on, but who cares. People want solutions, real or not, that deal with their everyday issues. Most people could care less about the travel arrangements of their congressperson, unless there is scandal involved. Those are the facts. Not to mention lobbyists would cry foul since they would be forced to go to every little backwoods hamlet looking for congressmen to bribe. It ain’t gonna happen, and Gause is basically running on principle now. He did come to South DeKalb though, which shocked the you know what out of me. Victor Amendariz was much better on TV than he was at the South DeKalb forum. That may have been because he was so late, he only got to answer one question and do his outro. He seems a bit nervous to me. When he had the opportunity to question one opponent, it took him nearly 15 seconds to tell us who his question was for. He stumbled around and stammered like a kid who did not do his homework and was trying to answer a question. Right now, if he was being tossed hardball questions with follow-ups, he would come off pretty bad. Dude is not ready. Moving on to Cory Ruth, my golden boy a few weeks ago has lost some of his luster, and in such a short period of time. Why? I don’t know. I am not sold on him as a candidate. I have seen him in person twice, and both times he seems aloof, almost arrogant. Although he has polished answers, and has a smooth delivery that shows his knowledge of issues, I am just not feeling him. On to Ms. Stokes and her invisible campaign. I haven’t been able to get a read on her at all. If experience and knowledge were the only qualifications, she would be running neck and neck with Vernon. In this game you have to be able to connect with people and she is not connecting, at least not with me. At the forum on Saturday, the applause for her after she spoke was lackluster. I don’t think she has done anything to get her name in the conversation, good or bad. At this stage of the game, you do not want to be an unknown. It is a shame too, because she seems like such a nice person. Now that I have disposed of the also-rans, let’s talk about the three who can win. Let’s start with Hank. He missed the televised as well as the S. DeKalb forum at the mall. Now, I know he is a sitting congressman, and he has to work and campaign, but dang, you would think he would show his face every once in a while. I think he has been to one forum with the other candidates. If I am a new voter in the 4th, I have to wonder what is up with this guy. Is he OK? Is he fit to serve? Hank is going to wake up on the 21st and realize that he is soon to be known as the former congressman from Georgia’s 4th district. That leaves just two. I am going to start with Liz Carter. I get the feeling she has shifted this thing into cruise control, though she and her campaign will deny it. After all she does not want to expend too much energy on what seems to be a done deal on the primary. Her only competition, Cory Ruth is having his conservative credentials questioned, especially his plan to possibly bring Haitians to America while Haiti is being rebuilt. Liz banged him on that one. I checked his site like he encouraged, and this is what is in the letter today –

“My concern is that with temperatures in the nineties, no shelter, no clean water, rampant diarrhea and other diseases, human waste and dead bodies in the streets – are there discussions to begin rapidly transporting the Haitian population to neighboring countries – including the United States?”

Even though he posed it as a question, in this climate you do not want to advocate or seem to advocate bringing any foreigners  into this country to suck our resources dry. It can be the end of your campaign especially if you are a Republican. Anyway, back to Liz. She is playing it safe for now, and seems to be positioning herself for a run at the moderate and independent voters of the district. At about the eleven minute mark, she smoothly explains off any question about her position on issues relating to gays, and puts a states right spin on it. A safe move as to not alienate too many of the 4ths liberal voters. Liz Carter is definitely headed to the big dance, and the last time a moderate Republican female ran was Sunny Warren in 2000, and she got nearly 40% of the vote against a wildly popular, at the time, Cynthia McKinney. Can a moderate Republican win this district? Anything is possible, but she will have to beat an incumbent or Vernon. Last but not least, is Vernon. I am not going to say much about Vernon. The guy is a damn good campaigner, and he truly knows how to move a crowd, albeit a sympathetic crowd most of the time. On Sturday he said He has humor, and he pounds away at you with his accomplishments.  In both the televised and South DeKalb forum, he had a commanding presence on stage. I know that Vernon is playing well in South DeKalb. Just talking to folks in casual conversation, they know him, and they know what he has done, and they like him. My only fear is that his baggage is going to hurt him. It’s not deadly cargo, but it is cumbersome. Had he not been carrying so much extra baggage, I would say without a doubt he will be representing the 4th. It is a shame too, because I much rather see a Vernon/Carter slugfest than a Hank/Carter sleepwalk.

If you missed the debates, here are the Republicans. Here are the Democrats.

4th district candidate questionnaire

June 27, 2010 1 comment

I sent the following questions to all of the candidates in the 4th congressional race. A couple bounced back, so I used their contact form on their website. Only one has responded so far and that was Liz Carter. I am going to post any answers I get in a post sometime next week. Stay tuned

These are the questions I sent to the Dem candidates

  1. As Democrats, it is hard to separate the candidates from one another based on issues. What one thing separates you from the other candidates in the primary and therefore makes you the best candidate to vote for?
  2. Our national government is accumulating massive deficits, trust in government is at an all-time low, and special interests groups tend to be more of a force in national politics than ordinary Americans. What do you think can be done to restore the national government to respectability among average Americans.
  3. How involved should the government be in the BP gulf oil spill?
  4. As a veteran, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are always in my head. The wars have cost taxpayers over a trillion dollars. Do you believe it is time to remove our troops from one or both war zones, and if so how soon would you want to see a withdrawal begin?
  5. For more than a decade, Democrats have been elected to office in the 4th district, but little has come back to the district in terms of jobs, dollars, or respect. Why should 4th district citizens continue to vote for the Democrat come November

Here are the questions I sent to the Republicans:

  1. As Republicans, it is hard to separate the candidates from one another based on issues. What one thing separates you from the other candidates in the primary and therefore makes you the best candidate to vote for?
  2. Our national government is accumulating massive deficits, trust in government is at an all-time low, and special interests groups tend to be more of a force in national politics than ordinary Americans. What do you think can be done to restore the national government to respectability among average Americans.
  3. How involved should the government be in the BP gulf oil spill?
  4. As a veteran, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are always in my head. The wars have cost taxpayers over a trillion dollars. Do you believe it is time to remove our troops from one or both war zones, and if so how soon would you want to see a withdrawal begin?
  5. In past elections in the 4th district, the smaller, less intrusive government proposed by Republicans has fallen on deaf ears. Many in the district rely on   government benefits to make ends meet be it Social Security, Section 8, or Medicare/Medicaid. How can smaller government help those who need help the most.

4th district candidates meet up in forum.

June 24, 2010 18 comments

Well I attended my first candidate forum on Teusday evening at the DeKalb History center. The forum was sponsored by the DeKalb League of Women Voters, and the Champion newspaper. By the time I arrived, they were in the midst of introducing the candidates who were there. In a previous post,  I said Hank Johnson would win this hands down. The forum and other actions since then makes me want to adjust “hands down” to “it is going to be a squeaker”. Johnson still pulls it out, but probably in a runoff. Back to the forum, the following candidates showed up: Victor Amendariz, Liz Carter, Vernon Jones, Cory Ruth and Connie Stokes. Larry Gause and Hank Johnson were no-shows. I must say, it is best to see the candidates in person at least once. You observe t hings about them that you cannot possibly get from a tweet, or a facebook update. My overall take about the forum was that it was civil and light-hearted. no back and forth jabs between candidates, probably becasue the moderator forbade them to do so. The candidate that most impressed me was Cory Ruth. All of his answers to question were to the point. Whether I agree with his answers was not too important to me. After all we know what a Republican believes, and we know what the Democrats believe. For me, last night was a chance to see how the candidate presented themselves, and how they reaceted to their environment. To that point, I had a few qualities I was looking for.

Confidence. Did the candidate seem shaken or sure of their position

Knowledge. Did the candidate have a solid handle on the issues presented to them.

Experience. Not just political, but ability to lead, craft new ideas (Job, business, etc).
Victor Amandariz – He has a great story, son of a successful legal immigrants, successful in his own right, and a straight ” I beleive in the Constitution” guy. His solution to just about every issue raised was less government, more private sector. Though  I agree that government can screw up mightily, I also must recognize that the private sector can muck up stuff as well. His stance on what to do about Section 8 housing was his only highlight for me. He proposed that organizations like Habitat for Humanity should be expanded to provide low-income housing as oppose to the Feds managing a handout. Over all, I was not impressed with Mr. Amendariz. He should consider a run for county commission or  city council. He just ain’t ready for the big stage of Congress.

  • Confidence: He was way sure of his convictions, there were times he was searching for words, but he did a good job overall.
  • Knowledge:  Only because he seems to think that less government solves all problems no matter the issue.
  • Experience:  I cannot recall one time where he referred to an event in his life that would show him as a solid leader.

Liz Carter – Liz was good. she didn’t hit a home run, but she didn’t strike out either. I think she has the best run campaign by far, and she seems at ease and confident talking with folks who were obvious supporters of Stokes and Jones. Though many of here answers were a rehash of the issues on her website, she did provide details at times. On the issue of public transportation, she talked about the need to integrate all of our transport options like rail, bus and other forms so that people on mass transit can move around more quickly and efficiently. She pointed to cities like San Francisco, Salt Lake City and Chicago as examples of cities where mass transit works. One issue where I felt she faltered on was Section 8 housing. The queston was posed by an audience member, who was concerned about the amount of Section 8 housing in the district. I thought this was an excellent question, because, behind foreclosures, Section 8 has been devastating neighborhoods across South DeKalb. Her answer made me feel that she needed an update about Section 8. She gave the typical response about the role of the private sector being better able to handle the issues that come along with Section 8. She followed fellow Republican Amendariz in support for more Habitat for Humanity like projects to help with Section 8 issues. Though her answer to this question was not what I wanted to hear, I still think she will be the Republican candidate, and I also think she will poll well in the general election.

  • Confidence: A, was impressed by her positions on various issues, was not rattled by the vocal Jones and Stokes supporters
  • Knowledge:  Well educated about a myriad of issues. generic response on Section 8 needs revamping.
  • Experience:  Business owner, plus I talked to her Chief of Staff, and she told me they run the campaign like a business. would do the same in Congress probably.

Vernon Jones – I could devote an entire post to Vernon. This was the first time I had seem him in person. His personality is overwhelming, and his ability to stir the crowd and influence those around him were evident last night(after complaining that 60 seconds was not enough to explain a position, the moderator offered the candidates a choice of more time but fewer questions. Vernon in the end stuck with the 60 seconds). He had the most vocal supporters at the forum and there were more than a few people who had their “Vernon Jones for Congress” t-shirts turned inside out. Vernon touted his record as CEO on more than a few occasions. From sidewalks and turn lanes to more open greenspace on both ends of the county, Vernon from the start let the audience know who had the most experience and the most successes in elected office. On the issue of illegal immigratin, Vernon plainly stated that he was against an amnesty program for illegals. he also stated that he supported helping Mexico with it’s economy, and that will help us with our immigration policy. I have heard that before from others, but somehow it gets lost in the conversation. It was refreshing to hear a candidate offer a measure that would truly help with illegal immigration(look to our north if you need any persuasion). Overall, Vernon impressed me. I must confess here that I voted for him both times he ran for CEO. I think he did a respectable job as CEO, though today I wonder if all the projects that he claims as successes are not coming back to haunt the county’s’ finances. He will give Hank a run for his money, and I think he will force Hank into a run-off. That said, the last time Vernon went into a run-off he lost.

  • Confidence: The guy knows what he believes and is not afraid to say it.
  • Knowledge:  He understands a myriad of issues, though I was suprised that he gave a “No Answer” to a questionon about whether he would support and Arizona style immigration bill in Georgia. He admitted to not reading the bill.
  • Experience:  He has the experience to be a congressman, and he has lead a large urban government, something the other candidates cannot claim.

Cory Ruth – As I said earlier, I was most impressed by Mr. Ruth. He explained his positions very well, leaving no doubt as to where he stood. He also made two to three suggestions on how he would handle a particular issue. On Securing our borders he said it was not just about our southern border, he stated that the government was responsible for all of our borders including the northern border, airports and sea-ports. His position was that the focus should be on securing all of our borders, and not focusing all of our attention on just one single issue of Immigration. Of all the candidates, he seemd to be the least political, and seemed to have a genuine desire to solve problems. Though he must know he is fighting and uphill battle, he was as confident as anyone on stage. He never was at a lost for words. I can’t recall a moment where I had to take pause about what he was saying, he was really that good. I think we may hear from him again later on down the road.

  • Confidence:  Really well prepared. Not intimidated in the least.
  • Knowledge:  His quick and concise answers were obvious signs he had studied the issues, and had a solid plan for what he would do.
  • Experience: No mention about past political work, or leadership in organization or business. He did not mention past work that would lead me to belive that leadership has been a primary responsibility.

Connie Stokes – I am finding Connie hard to read. Last night, she showed that she has the knowled and the experience to be a congressperson. She basically reiterated what we already know about her positions. She made a point to mention the work she had done in the state senate, and being a floor leader for former Governor Roy Barnes. She also touts her skills as a county commisoner. On the Section 8 issue, she believes that landlords who own Section 8 property should be held accountable for the upkeep of their properties. On other issues, she towed the line with what would be expected from a Liberal Democrat. She had a sizeable following at the forum, and will definitely siphon votes from Jones and Johnson. She did not hurt herself Tuesady, adn I am sure she will become more visible and more vocal in the next few weeks.

  • Confidence:  Well prepared to explain her positions. Seemed to be searching for words during questions from the audience.
  • Knowledge: Understands issues well, especially those that affect the district directly like unemployment and foreclosures.
  • Experience: Her time in the statehouse, and the county commission, as well as her business leadership makes her a very experienced politician.

Attack of the cloned politicians

May 10, 2010 3 comments

I recently looked at the four republican candidates trying to be the nominee to “yank Hank” from Congress.  I try to do my due diligence as it relates to my elected officials. So there I was with my web browser tabs open for all four candidates. Actually one candidates site was down at the time but I am pretty sure of what he had to say, based on the other three. The three candidates whose sites were up were basically clones of one another when it came down to where they stood on the issues. It was as if they all read the same playbook. All are for the fair tax, which I believe has some merit. Each candidate blasts illegal immigration, and each was very predictable about how they feel about healthcare legislation. They all basically are regurgitating republican talking points that have existed for at least two decades. With that said, how in the world are you supposed to choose a candidate from a group of people who spew the same ideology, with nothing of substance to separate them? Look at these two pieces from two of the campaigns and decide who would do the better job on the issue of immigration:

We have always had immigration. In fact, this legal immigration is and has been an incredible source of prosperity for America. Illegal immigration threatens the foundation of this system. There is no doubt that we need to fix our immigration system, and it must begin by securing the border and fixing the visa and entry process. This should not include amnesty.

The United States has always opened its arms and welcomed those who seek to come to our great country legally. Process and laws have been put in place to protect our borders and our economy, yet at this time those laws are being broken, challenged and there are those who want to grant “amnesty” to those who bypassed those processes and laws.

Immigration made our nation great. The United States has a diverse population with diverse backgrounds and diverse beliefs. However, illegal immigration has eroded Americans’ trust in government, threatened our national security and hurt fellow Americans.

The solution to our nation’s illegal immigration problem must begin with securing our borders. Without secure borders, we cannot begin to have a rational or logical discussion about immigration policy. Technology holds great potential to help in our nation’s security efforts, and I believe we should use every tool at our disposal to ensure our borders are secure.

Securing our borders is just a piece of this complex issue. The issue does not solely rest with the individual; employers have a responsibility in this equation. We must look closely at our current laws and develop an effective visa program and temporary worker program to support legal immigrants who fulfill important roles in our nation’s economy.

Our border must be secured and our immigration laws must to be reviewed, especially during an economic crisis. We the People cannot afford to pay for and support those who do not follow process and who do not pay taxes.

I think this is why people are jaded with politics in this country. The candidates are clones of one another, so you must come up with other reasons when you try to pick a candidate to vote for. I could say I won’t vote for the black guy or the woman, but that would be ignorant on my part. I could check out the debates but those will not be filled with substantive ways of fixing Washington or helping the district, but will become a televised crap throwing contest to see which candidate can make the one-liner that gets the most media coverage, and therefore makes them the de facto front runner. If I sound a bit cynical it’s because I think our political system needs a healthy dose of cynicism from a lot more people. Our election cycles remind me of high school politics many, many years ago. Every year, a kid would promise the masses that they would change the school. Faculty will respect us; the cafeteria will serve better food. There will be free pizza parties before every exam. The masses loved what they heard and voted for the kid with all the popular ideas. Then they realized that he or she couldn’t do much if any of the things promised. In fact, he had become cozy with the faculty and staff and enjoyed the perks of class leader. They no longer needed their fellow students; after all they had their own agenda, an agenda that benefited their friends and associates. Every year this went on until you went off to college and the merry-go-round started all over again. I feel like I am back on that same merry-go-round from a couple of years ago. As I get older I feel less inclined to vote, knowing that the system will continue to head down the wrong road no matter who I vote for. But deep inside of me, I know that if I stop voting there is one more compliant soul that has been beaten and that’s one less voter they have to worry about.

4th district candidates sites

January 16, 2010 5 comments