Photo by Kirsten Reynolds

During their weekly meeting on Monday, Feb. 5, the Georgia Tech chapter of College Republicans hosted Republican gubernatorial candidate Casey Cagle.

Having served as Lieutenant Governor for 12 years, Casey Cagle is seen as the frontrunner in the Republican primary, which will include Hunter Hill, Brian Kemp, Clay Tippins and Michael Williams.

Cagle spent the first 20 minutes of his visit briefly explaining his primary policy beliefs. He touts a traditional Republican platform, with cutting taxes and wasteful spending, reducing regulations and growing the economy at the top of the list. He is also “unwaveringly” pro-life and a steadfast protector of the right to bear arms. Yet Cagle spoke most extensively on an issue facing Atlanta now: infrastructure.

Cagle promised to work on a 10-year strategic plan to solve Atlanta’s traffic problem. He offered three potential fixes that seek to expand the capacity of existing structures. The first is to implement reversible lanes with moveable barriers. A policy like this — which has been applied in other major cities like San Francisco — would “use our given assets to their greatest utility.”

His other idea is to construct a tunnel to alleviate traffic from the downtown connector, an idea that received attention from the other side of the aisle as well when democrat Mary Norwood suggested it last year  during her campaign for Atlanta mayor. Cagle admitted that the tunneling would be extraordinarily expensive — about ten billion dollars — but said that it is worth exploring. To solve this issue, “we need to think innovatively, and as governor, I’ll do that,” he said.

A final component of his infrastructure reform would be MARTA. A number of commuters are unable to fully rely on the service due to the limited number of locations with stops. Cagle emphasizes this point with respect to business. Transit availability, according to Cagle, is the single most important prerequisite for companies choosing a site, and for industry giants like Amazon to consider Atlanta, expansion of MARTA would have to
be addressed.

For the rest of his visit, Cagle received questions from the audience, which included not just Tech but also Georgia State and Morehouse College republicans. One subject was Cagle’s plan for educational reform. His belief is that the one-size-fits-all system is ineffective, and he instead promotes the charter system as a solution. He also wants to emphasize that technical degrees are as important as four-year degrees
and above.

“I believe there is dignity in work — all work,” Cagle said.

He indicated that his reform will aim to give students the opportunities to explore those avenues as well.

More controversial topics were discussed in other questions. One student asked for Cagle’s opinion on expanding current campus carry legislation, through which licensed gun-owners are permitted to bring firearms on college campuses while concealed. Cagle, though a staunch believer in the second amendment, recognized that “the university system is adamantly opposed” to any further legislation on the matter.

Another student asked for his views on environmental regulatory policy. Cagle said that, as governor, the decision would be out of his hands, emphasizing that the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the state Environmental Protection Division work hand-in-hand on setting that policy.

Though refraining from any mention of climate change, he did note his passion for land conservation. “In every area, industry has to exist, but we also have to protect the environment,” he said. “We have to find the balance — that’s the tricky part.”

The only question to mention any of his gubernatorial competitors was aimed at the debate surrounding Confederate monuments. When asked how he felt about democratic candidate Stacey Abrams’ desire to remove the Confederate memorial from the face of Stone Mountain, Cagle said, “We have a law that does not allow local jurisdictions to take away our history.” He then pivoted to say that the dialogue should focus more on “the future and looking forward, not things we have no control over.”

In closing, Cagle focused on his idealistic roots. “A lot of people might ask me who’s running against me,” he said. “I want to tell you all, I’m not running against anyone for governor of Georgia. I’m not running for a job or for a title … I’m running to make a difference.”

The Georgia Tech College Republicans meet every Monday evening at 7 p.m. For more information about their meeting times, visit their Facebook page.