Courtesy Jonathan Copsey / Beacon Media
The house of Milton mayor Joe Lockwood was filled Tuesday night with guests from all over his new city, laughing, snacking and have a generally good time. Oh, and Secretary of State Karen Handel was there, too.
Lockwood threw open his doors to Handel to hold a fundraiser for her campaign for governor.
"What's always impressed me is how she's just not afraid to get in there and take care of things," said Lockwood. "That's something we need in our state and that's something we need in our next governor."
Speaking before the movers and shakers of Milton, Handel outlined her plans for the future and the differences between her and her opponents.
"We have a lot of good people in the race with good intentions," Handel said. "The next governor had better have a whole lot more than good intentions. Because the next governor will have a whole lot of challenges on her."
According to Handel, her experience can be classified as "real world" in lieu of political; instead of spending her working life gathering votes and tendering legislation, she was working in the corporate world, learning how to manage organizations. Prior to becoming Sec. of State, Handel was the head of the North Fulton Chamber of Commerce, which she turned around from a near-defunct group into the commercial success it is now.
One of Handel's biggest triumphs and controversies in her current position, has been the implementation of a voter ID system. Lengthy lawsuits have swung back and forth; however she claims the overall policy is sound and just plagued by vague execution, which is a legislative problem.
"I understand that policy is words on a piece of paper unless you know how to implement and execute."
Calls for Real Reform
Obviously taxes will be another big problem facing the next governor.
"We need to do tax reform in partnership with municipal [governments]," she said. "If the state takes a tax reduction at the state level and your council members and your mayor are forced to backfill it at the local level, that�s not tax reform. That�s called passing the buck." She promised to rebuild the tax code from the ground up to make Georgia more competitive on the national and global level and lessen the burden on taxpayers and small business.
In the end, Handel was asking for votes and money for the coming Republican gubernatorial primary, scheduled for July 20, 2010, and she needs Fulton County to come out big for her. With fully 10 percent of the primary vote, Republican-rich North Fulton will be important to any candidate. As it represents her base, it's crucial to her primary chances.
"The next governor is going to have to be someone who is determined and a tenacious problem solver," Handel said. "Someone who has been tested in a tough environment and has had to come up with practical solutions to very serious and real issues. We need someone who is going to have rock solid principles."