Candidates present views, backgrounds

Roy Barnes

Roy Barnes, the Democratic nominee for governor, is the former governor of Georgia. Barnes grew up in Cobb County and earned his undergraduate and law degree of the University of Georgia in six years. Returning to Cobb County after college, he opened a law firm until his election to the Georgia State Senate in 1974 at the age of 26–the youngest state senator at the time.

After 16 years serving in this capacity, he was elected to the Georgia State House of Representative in 1992, serving for six years as member of the Rules and the Banks and Banking Committees, Vice Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and Chairman of the Subcommittee on General Law.

In 1999, he was elected governor of Georgia, but he returned to a law career after a failed reelection bid. He now practices at his specialty litigation firm Barnes Law Group with his family in Marietta. He is also a member of the Teaching Commission, the Chair of the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards and Chair of the Institute of Education Leadership.

Barnes’ plans include rural and agricultural development, high-tech education and research and investment in renewable and efficient energy sources. He would reduce the property tax, develop economic activities in rural areas and reduce long-term energy costs by retrofitting state-controlled buildings for energy efficiency. Barnes is strongly in favor of maintaining heterosexual-only marriages.

He has supported funding to intensify anti-drug trafficking operations and to provide drug education and prevention programs. Education, especially educators, is another hot point for Barnes, who would not support teacher furloughs or renege salary obligations and would reduce school days dedicated to standardized testing. He also believes in bridge high schools and post-secondary education via access to college classes and increasing vocational education options in high schools.

John Monds

John Monds, the Libertarian nominee for governor, is the president of the Grady County NAACP branch and member of public service boards. Monds hails from Grady County and earned his undergraduate degree in banking and finance at Morehouse College in Atlanta in 1987. Before graduating, he had a job with Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc. and continued working as a finance officer. He is also a 20-year member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity and has held various positions with the fraternity as well as winning the Man of the Year and Superior Service awards in 2003.

As president of the Grady County NAACP branch, he has held financial literacy classes for a local summer program, and he is a member of the Grady County Planning Commission, Grady County Habitat for Humanity chapter, Grady County Fine Arts Project and Executive Committee of the Libertarian Party of Georgia.

The Georgia Libertarian Party unanimously nominated him as their gubernatorial candidate earlier this year, and he thus became the first African-American candidate for Georgia governor appearing on the general election ballot.

Monds’ campaign basis is relieving government power, lowering taxes and focusing on individual rights. He would use his office to reduce taxes and eliminate the state income and property tax in favor of a consumption tax. His administration would push zero-based budgeting and veto any funding measures past basic governmental functions.

He also recently made headlines supporting marriage equality; as a libertarian, he believes in government intervention only for legal matters. He would also ask the General Assembly to rescind minimum laws for drug offenders and reexamine currently incarcerated offenders’ cases. For education, he would encourage charter schools and a tax credit for those attending private schools or homeschool. He would shift control of education systems to local communities and oppose federal mandates like the No Child Left Behind Act.

Nathan Deal

Nathan Deal, the Republican nominee for governor, is a former thirteen-year representative from Georgia. Hailing from east-central Georgia, Deal earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Mercer University in six years. After college, he served as a captain in the Army and JAG Corps for two years; while in service, he could not serve in combat operations due to insufficient eyesight, so he taught law to military police. He then went on to a ten-year law career as private practice lawyer in Gainesville, Ga. assistant district attorney of the northeastern judicial circuit and juvenile court judge of Hall County.

In 1981, he was elected to the Georgia State Senate as a Democrat until 1995, including time as speaker pro tempore, when he was elected to Congress as a representative and then affiliated with the Republican party. In Congress, he was a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and chaired the Subcommittee on Health. After declaring intentions to resign, he decided to postpone that to vote against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act–the health reform bill making headlines this year. He resigned his representative seat this March and has been working on his gubernatorial campaign since.

Deal’s major campaign push is via his five-point plan focused on job creation and growth and restructuring the tax code. He is a strong proponent of the fair tax system and intends to implement it at the federal level, and he would reduce taxes for families and small businesses and eliminate the corporate tax.

Deal has come out against homosexual marriages and civil unions, and he opposes all federal support for LGBT programs. He is a strong proponent of family values and has received endorsements from the National and Georgia Right to Life Committees. His family’s teaching history makes education a major subject for Deal, who would strengthen the Teachers’ Retirement System, fund universal pre-kindergarten education, and strengthen math and science education.