The Hartwell Sun asked contested candidates in the June 9 primary election to share their platforms and why they chose to run for office ahead of the start of early voting, which begins May 18. Early voting will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays through Fridays at the Hart County AgriScience Center on Bowman Highway until June 5. Saturday voting will be at the same location on May 30. Absentee ballot applications have also been mailed to every active, registered voter.
Name: Andrew Clyde
Occupation: CEO and owner of Clyde Armory
Family: My wife Jennifer and I live in Jackson County with our Doberman, Kit.
Why are you running for office? In 2013, the IRS, without warning, wrongfully confiscated $940,313 from my business. Come to find out, they had been doing this to small business owners all across the country through an unconstitutional process known as civil forfeiture action. Unfortunately, most people didn’t have the financial resources to stand up for themselves and ultimately would lose their business and livelihood. I took on the corrupt IRS in court for two years and won my money back, but I couldn’t stop there. I went to Washington to work with Congress to pass legislation eliminating the ability of the IRS to seize legally earned money saving thousands of individuals and business owners from wrongful prosecution each year. On July 1, 2019 President Donald Trump signed the Clyde-Hirsh-Sowers RESPECT Act.
I never intended to run for public office, but this experience showed me there is a very thin line between ‘We the People’ running our government and our government running us. This is the fight of our lifetime, and I personally experienced the brutality of it so I won’t back down when it comes to stopping overreaching unconstitutional government.
What do you hope to accomplish should you be elected? 1. Further work to deregulate the firearms industry by removing suppressors, short barreled rifles and short barreled shotguns from the National Firearms Act of 1934.
2. Protect the lives of the unborn, without exceptions.
3. Dismantle the IRS and in its place implement a flat tax on consumption.
4. Ensure veterans receive the care the government promised them when they took their Oath to protect this country. Our country is more concerned with providing care to illegal immigrants than those who have dedicated their life to protecting our freedoms.
What is the pressing issue facing the Ninth District right now? I truly believe government overreach is at the heart of the issues our nation and district face. Entitlement programs have made the American people dependent on the federal government, this is terrifying. Bailouts for big corporations rarely pay off and slow the recovery of the economy. The IRS is the epitome of corruption and government overreach. Our neighbors are being forced to close their doors because of the unconstitutional processes used by the IRS. Now, in a time of crisis, we cannot fall victim to big government. “We the people,” this is our country and we must protect our Constitution to preserve our prosperity.
Name: Ethan Underwood, Cumming
Occupation: Property Rights Attorney with a focus on representing private property owners and businesses against the government.
Family: My wife, Tiffany and I have been married for 22 years, and we have four children. Our son, Gabriel, recently finished a term in the Army. Our oldest daughter, Elise, has Down Syndrome. Our middle daughter, Amelia, is our dancer, and our youngest daughter, Charlotte is our artist.
Why are you running for office? I have watched as a large number of Americans have been groomed by the progressive movement to challenge the very foundation of American values. These people are openly embracing Socialism, and are not only voting — they are walking the halls of Congress.
I worry what the future of our country holds if we don’t fight this wave of Socialism. I am running for Congress to protect the truth of our country and articulate the opportunities that America creates for all citizens.
D.C. is hostile territory and who we send to Washington matters. We need a battle-ready Republican leader who will stand with President Trump to take action day-one on the issues that are in the best interest of our country. My whole career has prepared me for this next battle. I understand the law and how to navigate the political process, reach agreements and not back down until we create solutions. No other candidate brings that skillset to the table.
What do you hope to accomplish should you be elected? In addition to protecting small businesses, protecting the unborn and protecting your Second Amendment Rights, I want to work to expand rural broadband and internet access in Northeast Georgia, as well as work to make certain Northeast Georgians have access to quality, privately-run healthcare in every part of the District. I also want to retain Rep. Doug Collins’ seat on the House Judiciary Committee.
What is the most pressing issue facing the 9th District right now? We have to get businesses running again and people back to work. The federal government will have a vital role in helping to rejuvenate the economy, but we need representatives in Congress who will prevent the federal government from expanding its reach into areas of the economy and citizens’ lives from which it will never loosen its grip. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed major holes in our national security, our healthcare system, and in our economy. We have to bring the production of key manufactured and pharmaceutical products back to U.S. soil, and address our broken immigration system so that we can protect the public health while making certain there are adequate workers in the agricultural and technology industries.
Name: John Wilkinson
Occupation: Teacher, farmer
Family: Married to Debbie, a retired kindergarten teacher for 45 years. Son — Terrell. Daughter Tara. Five grandchildren.
Why are you running for office? As a lifelong resident of this district and serving as a State Senator in this district for the past nine years, I believe that I share the core values and concerns of the majority of residents in this district. I am a good listener and have the ability to work with others. I am more interested in getting things done than proving a personal point. I want to serve the constituents of the 9th Congressional District in Washington.
What do you hope to accomplish should you be elected? My first priority will be responsiveness to the constituents in the 9th District. There seems to be a disconnect between Congress and the American people. If our Veterans are having difficulty with health care or benefits they have earned, our farmers are having difficulty navigating the federal bureaucracy or senior citizens are having questions regarding their Social Security benefits, I want to help. I have served on President Trump’s agricultural and rural America advisory committee for the past four years. I look forward to working with the President to address issues facing North Georgia.
What is the most pressing issue facing the 9th District right now? Dealing with COVID-19 continues to be the most pressing issue, not only for our district but for our state and nation as well. Public health and safety is job No. 1. I will work with the Centers for Disease Control and the health care professionals to make sure they have the resources they need to address this challenge. I commend the health care and public safety officials in our communities for their dedication and the sacrifices they are making for all of us. I will work to make sure that we keep the proper balance between our safety and our economic viability.
Name: Kellie Weeks
Occupation: Owner of Georgia Gun Store in Gainesville. They live in Banks County.
Family: Married to Mike for 25 years. We have two kids who are currently in college. Both our kids, like us, have Tourette Syndrome so, I have spent the last 15 years advocating for kids with TS.
Why are you running for office? I had no intention in running for office but after years of frustration with the Democrats pushing their crazy agenda and career politicians doing nothing to stop them, I thought it was a good time for me to make a difference.
Our first business was an auto-body shop that closed in 2009 because of the housing market.
When the market crashed, it rolled over into commercial real estate. We had two large buildings and no one would refinance the buildings so our loan was called, forcing us to close.
This is when I saw firsthand how bad policy can ruin lives. After that, we scraped together all we could and opened our gun store with very little inventory. In the past ten years we have grown into a very successful business that is known for honesty and fairness.
What do you hope to accomplish should you be elected? 1) Term Limits — It’s time to stop career politicians because they only serve their own interest not ours
2) Gun rights which will include getting suppressors off the NFA registry and stopping any new gun control measures
3) Rebuilding our Mental Health infrastructure because we have veterans who are committing suicide at an alarming rate and those with chronic mental illness who self-medicate with alcohol and drugs.
What is the most pressing issue facing the 9th District right now? Since Covid-19 has hit us, our biggest issue will be getting people back to work and getting small businesses open again. Having been through this myself, I will be a good person for the job.
Name: Kevin Tanner
Occupation: Poultry farmer, small businessman
Family: I have been married to my wife Stacie for 21 years. Together we have raised four beautiful daughters – Kaitlyn, Abbie, Chloe and Yenifer. Yenifer, who we took in from foster care when she was in 10th grade, has blessed us with two grandkids — Nate and Theo.
Why are you running for office? I am ready to join President Trump in fighting to protect our families from the radical left. I am the proven conservative fighter that can get the job done. Having run numerous small businesses, a law enforcement agency and a county government, I know how to lead. I am ready to use that experience to fix the mess in Washington. I protected our families in law enforcement. I have protected our values of life, the Second Amendment, and religious freedom in the State House. I am ready to fight to protect our conservative values, our freedoms, and our future in Congress.
What do you hope to accomplish should you be elected? In the State House, I have proven you can be an unapologetic conservative while being effective. I am ready to do the same to fix the mess in Congress. I will join President Trump to protect our North Georgia values, end our reliance on communist China, build the wall and put America first. I will stand up for our small businesses and farmers throughout the 9th. And I will work cut the federal bureaucracy down to size —empower states to tackle issues where the federal government has failed.
What is the pressing issue facing the Ninth District right now? The most pressing issue facing the 9th for the near future is dealing with the impacts of COVID-19. We have to get hardworking Georgians safely back to work to get our economy working again. We need to prioritize our small businesses and workers — not those with the deepest pockets. We also must start building things in America again. We can no longer depend on a communist China that caused the coronavirus for medical supplies. God has blessed us here to make anything we need, and it’s time to make ‘American Made’ great again.
Name: Matt Gurtler
Family: Wife Melissa and daughter Olivia.
Why are you running for office? I ran for State Rep. in 2016 because I was concerned for the future of our country with our Constitution being ignored. I’ve had the honor to represent Towns, Union, Rabun and White counties for four years and have handily beat the establishment in two elections. My experience at the State Capitol has only strengthened my resolve to call out the out-of-touch politicians in D.C. who live off taxpayer dollars while growing government. With Doug Collins vacating his seat to run for U.S. Senate, I was encouraged by so many to run for Congress because of my reputation for taking principled stands and being named the “Most Conservative Legislator in Georgia.” I look forward to fighting for our shared values and principles in the swamp.
What do you hope to accomplish should you be elected? I hope to bring principles back to politics and lead by example. The people of the 9th District know D.C. is a cesspool of corruption and lies. I want to remind people that America has always been a shining example to the rest of the world and we need to fight against the crazy Democrat socialists to keep it that way. I want to restore our Second Amendment as the Constitution says; “Shall not be infringed.” I want to stand for the sanctity of life that starts at conception. Republicans keep voting to fund Planned Parenthood and that’s not OK with me. And I want to put the American values and principles Trump is fighting for, first.
What is the most pressing issue facing the 9th District right now?
Following free market principles has allowed America to be the greatest economic engine the world has ever known. Unfortunately government growth has made starting a business and providing for one’s family harder and harder. That along with the looming debt that has accumulated to over $24 trillion is the greatest threat to our nation, not only for us, but also especially for future generations. Every Republican says we need to cut spending, but some things like the Federal Department of Education and Pelosi’s pet projects don’t need spending cuts, they need to be killed. That along with ending the IRS and eliminating burdensome red tape is what will allow our country to prosper for years to come.
Name: Michael Boggus
Occupation: Crane operator
Family: I’m married with 2 children age 17 and 13
Why are you running for office? I’m running for Congress because we the middle class and poverty class citizens have been ignored. We keep electing the same type of politician or lawyer that tells us what we want to hear. Then they don’t deliver I’m blue collar no ties to politicians. I don’t come from money. I actually told everyone not to donate to my campaign while we are in this crisis.
What do you hope to accomplish should you be elected? What I hope to accomplish is the repeal of unconstitutional laws and revenue laws. To create a better tax bracket for the working class. Also because all gun laws are unconstitutional.
What is the most pressing issue facing the 9th District? The most pressing issue is the lack of representation. Like I said we are told what we want to hear then we don’t hear from them again until next election.
Name: Dr. Paul C. Broun, M.D.
Occupation: Marine Veteran. Family Physician.
Family: Married to Niki Broun since 1985.Three adult children and three grandchildren.
Why are you running for office? As a father and grandfather, it’s important for me that we pass on a free and prosperous America. Unfortunately, the federal government has grown far beyond its intended purposes, and our grandchildren’s future is being mortgaged by insane spending and unsustainable debt. My governing philosophy is simple: I will oppose any legislation that isn’t constitutional, moral, necessary and affordable. If it isn’t one of the enumerated powers in Article I, Section 8, the 10th Amendment says it is reserved to the states or the people. That’s exactly how I voted when I served in Congress from 2007 to 2015.
What do you hope to accomplish should you be elected? My JOBS Act would help revive our economy and bring jobs back from China by permanently eliminating corporate income taxes, capital gains taxes and the estate tax, with 100 percent write-off of capital expenditures. This would make a huge difference to businesses struggling to get going again after being forced to shut down by the government.
As a family physician for four decades, I know firsthand how Obamacare only made a semi-socialized medical system even more expensive and inefficient. My Patient OPTION Act would reduce costs for everybody through greater choice and competition, while expanding patient control and individual liberty.
What is the most pressing issue facing the 9th District right now? Will America return to the conservative Christian principles that founded and still sustain this nation? Will we have a congressman we can count on to stand with President Trump, return power to states and communities and shrink the size and scope of government, leaving people’s hard earned money in their pockets instead of sending it to Washington? That’s exactly what I did when I served in Congress from 2007 to 2015. The Madison Project put it this way: “Even the fiercest conservative fighters tend to succumb to the establishment meat grinder after a few years. Paul Broun has been inviolable.”
Name: Maria Strickland
Occupation: Retired law enforcement officer.
Family: Married, mother
Strickland did not return a questionnaire before press time. Her website lists her as a resident of Fannin County whose goal is to “serve the good people of the 9th District as their representative in U.S. Congress. As a true political outsider, Maria’s an American just like you and understands what it takes to make and keep America great.”
Her platform includes, according to her website, supporting President Trump, improving the quality of life for veterans, giving local educators more decision-making power, protecting and defending the unborn, safeguarding Social Security and Medicare, protecting U.S. borders, balancing the budget, creating a better health care plan, conserving the Second Amendment, encouraging small businesses and resisting the “radical left.”
Name: Dan Wilson
Occupation: Retired United Methodist Minister
Family: Happily married for over 35 years with two adult daughters, one married, one single, one a middle school principal and the other a teacher and librarian at a university. Have three adopted special needs grandchildren.
Why are you running for office? I was dissatisfied with the descent into anger and hate speech on a national level that was blocking progress in the Ninth District. Democracy dies whenever we cannot work together in a civil way to find solutions to basic problems. I want to get the Ninth District back to working on the things we all know need to be addressed.
What do you hope to accomplish should you be elected? Anyone who gets into elected office from this point forward has got to make friends across the aisle. Appealing to the base over and over again is causing our district to fall farther behind. We can only move forward if we bring everyone to the table. With a bi-partisan approach we can do much better. Immediate goals would be to improve health care, establish a regional minimum wage and develop a more skilled work force.
What is the most pressing issue facing the 9th District right now? Our economic stagnation has been a long standing problem. We have had chronic unemployment of around 12%, one in three children in poverty, 20% of our population without adequate health care, agriculture continuing to lose market shares, lack of adequate housing and childcare, and all the social problems this brings on. We have got to address the economic disparity in our district if we ever want to raise the quality of life for all citizens.
Name: Devin Pandy
Occupation: U.S. Army (Retired) 21 years, five deployments (Panama, Kuwait, Iraq twice, Afghanistan), Wounded Warrior.
Family: I come from a long military background and have two grown sons whom I am very proud of, and my fiancée and I plan to have more children once we’re married.
Why are you running for office? I see a lack of integrity in the current leadership of this district and the nation. I was raised to love my country, honor the Constitution, and do what’s right — even when it may be harder than doing what’s wrong. My time in the military reinforced those core values. Watching the incumbent District 9 representative shamelessly defend a president whose actions and words violate those values goes against everything I fought over two decades to defend. District 9 has been neglected for years; broadband, voting rights, healthcare, living wages for the working class, protections for vintners and agricultural and livestock farmers are essential to the residents of rural Georgia. As Representative, I will champion progress for rural Georgia in these areas and more.
What do you hope to accomplish should you be elected? With the influenza of 1918 as our closest and most recent comparison model, it is doubtful that COVID-19 would no longer be a serious public health issue when I am sworn in on Jan. 21, 2021. I will work for a national program to develop realistic guidelines for reopening the economy while maintaining the safety of all Americans. I also hope to establish a universal healthcare system, with an opt-out/private option, that is not tied to employment. I intend to ensure a living wage is the norm, not the exception. America’s working class are some of the hardest-working people in the world and deserve to live their lives free from worry that they can’t pay bills, afford health care, or feed their children. We live in the greatest country on earth — it is well past time everyday Americans start reaping the benefits of that greatness.
What is the most pressing issue facing the 9th District right now?
Health care and access to Broadband internet. In the age of the coronavirus, it is more important than ever that Americans are able to receive affordable, life-saving healthcare and prescription drugs. It is also important that, for those who have the option to work from home, high speed internet in available in all areas of the ninth and that they have the option of more than one provider. Broadband internet should no longer be considered an optional accessory, but rather a necessary utility along with water, waste, gas and electricity services. In 1936, FDR and the Democrats passed the Rural Electrification Act. It is now time to introduce the Rural Access to Broadband Act.