State Rep. Charlice Byrd, 60, says her experience in life as well as in the position are what set her apart from Michael Caldwell, 22, who also challenged her two years ago in the Republican Primary for the seat.
Byrd received 55 percent of the vote to Caldwell’s 45 percent in 2010 and now they are set for a rematch next Tuesday.
The incumbent says she has a passion for politics and a desire to make a change.
“Our core principles and values, in which this great nation was built — God, family and country are being eroded every single day. Effort and courage are not enough without purpose and direction,” Byrd said. “My qualifications stem from my experience in not only the legislature but in life.”
Caldwell points to growing up in Cherokee, his recent marriage and his business experience as keys that he says make him the best one for the job.
“I am running because I believe that our legislature could benefit from a state representative who will act as a “Working Citizen Legislator” promoting issues such as term limits and personhood while also building a business and a family in Cherokee County,” Caldwell said.
Byrd, who is married to former county commission chair Mike Byrd, said the most pressing issue for her is the need for jobs.
“Government does not create jobs; it can only create an environment conducive for job growth for the private sector. We need to promote a jobs-friendly business environment in Georgia and Cherokee County: one that supports local business owners and entrepreneurs, reduces government regulation and streamlines bureaucracy to spur job creation for our families,” she said. “We accomplish this by making sure that government gets out of the way and off the backs of our job creators.”
Education is the greatest problem facing the community, according to Caldwell, who said he has attended almost every school board meeting for the last four years.
“As our community decides what choices should be afforded parents and how we fund an educational system for a growing county, I have been working for years to set in motion an improved relationship between legislators and our school board,” Caldwell said. “By developing a working, familiar relationship with each individual board member, legislators begin a conversation rather than facilitating a reciprocal blaming match.”
Both candidates say they support charter schools.
“I support the Constitutional Amendment, which states ‘special schools may include charter schools; provided, however, that special schools shall only be public schools,’ “Byrd said. “I will continue to work for a menu of options for a child’s education. We cannot continue a one-size-fits-all program. School choice is vital for parents to ensure their child’s future success.”
Caldwell says he sees the local public school system as a successful one, but still supports the charter school concept.
“Charter Schools provide a very important element for an educational system: competition,” Caldwell said. “This is not competition centered on forcing the teachers to perform better but competition for the administrators and the school system as a whole. By allowing a charter school to compete (held to the same standards and on a level playing field with traditional public schools), we create a more efficient and better education for all students.”
Both candidates say they plan to vote against the proposed TSPLOST.