Saturday, September 9, 2006

Nice Coverage for a Georgia Dem

"I believe in straight talk and I'm always willing to listen," said Lauren Benedict. Below is a copy of an article that appeared in the Jones County paper on Thursday. This is great coverage for a promising candidate. Check out the story in the Jones County News.

Lauren Benedict greets Jones Countians at Chevy’s Café
Candidate seeking to reclaim Georgia House District 140 for Democrats


Debbie Lurie-Smith

The Democratic candidate for Georgia House District 140 visited Jones County last week to share her ideas and political platforms with a group of supporters at Chevy’s Café.
Political newcomer Lauren Benedict is challenging Republican incumbent Allan Freeman in November’s election. Freeman is completing his first term, and Benedict did not hesitate to state her case to the group gathered August 29.
“The needs of the district are not being represented,” she stated. “Rural districts are being ignored, and Metro Atlanta is in the forefront. I believe you need to be representative of all the people and available all the time.”
Benedict lives in southern Bibb County. She pointed out that District 140 is a very large district and said Jones County is a huge part of it.
“The southern portion of the county included in the district represents one-third of the county’s entire population,” she said.
Ike Liston was one of the coordinators of the event.
“I felt the people in the community needed to have both sides of the story,” Liston said.
Benedict is a lawyer and specializes in social security, disability and worker’s compensation.
“My clients are mostly from catastrophic injury or illnesses. I think government needs to be there when that happens to make sure the basics of life are available.”
Benedict said good education and a trainable workforce are needed to attract industry, and added that when she is elected, she will focus on basic issues.
“Teachers and law enforcement need to be adequately compensated. We need to give our sheriff’s departments help to retain good officers,” she commented.
The candidate also talked about the need to address healthcare issues, emphasizing that local sheriff’s departments are currently the state’s largest providers for mental health housing. She said healthcare resources are shrinking, and doctors have had to lay off medical staff because of changes in Medicare and Medicaid.
Benedict also recognized Jones County’s growing tax base and tax digest.
“Because of this tremendous growth, we need to bring in One Georgia funds to help with infrastructure.”
She said it is obvious that the county has lots of issues.
“I believe in straight talk, and I’m always willing to listen. Elected officials should represent the people, not their political party,” Benedict commented.
Benedict said she was born in Florida and attended Florida State University. She came to Macon to attend Mercer University School of Law in 1994.
“I fell in love with Macon, and I stayed,” she remarked.
The candidate said she attended public schools and came from a family of educators. Her mother taught special education.
“Education has always been important to me,” she remarked.
The candidate acknowledged her challenge running against an incumbent, but she is confident of her chances for a victory.
“My opponent won the 2004 election by 80 votes, and I hear people want a change. It will be hard work, and we need to talk about issues,” she said. “What we saw in 2005 and 2006 is an absolute squeeze in education with unfunded mandates and a cut in education funding. School systems had no choice but to raise taxes.”
In a recent press release concerning education cuts, Benedict listed the costs of state education cuts to local systems over the past four years.
Bibb County schools have seen cuts of $20,212,051 with a cut of $818 to the average county student, Jones $4,012,648 with a cut of $793 to the average county student, Twiggs $2,758,191 with a cut of $894 to the average county student, and Wilkinson $1,503,893 with a cut of $944 to the average county student.
School systems across Georgia have had to freeze teacher pay, stop hiring new teachers, increase class size and cut classes and programs for students as a result. Those cuts come even as property taxes rise in many districts to try to make up for the cuts.
In the past three years, Twiggs property taxes have increased by $255 and Jeffersonville property taxes have increased by $101 for every $100,000 in taxable assets; Jones County property taxes have increased by $425 for every $100,000 in taxable assets; and Wilkinson County property taxes have increased by $162 for every $100,000 in taxable assets.
In four years, over $1.25 billion has been cut from Georgia’s local schools, forcing nearly 100 districts to increase property taxes. Countless other districts cut educational programs for the students of Georgia.
On average, $828.68 has been taken away from each student in the state of Georgia.
“Transportation cost taken out of government funding means it is put on the community. The 65 percent initiative is a lot of smoke and mirrors used to put the squeeze on education,” Benedict stated. “How can we make education better in our community if our leaders in Atlanta fail to provide necessary funding for even the basic essentials?”


Button Gwinnett said...

I first noticed Lauren via you and Tina back around May or June. She really seems like a star in the making. She also made a nice showing at the biofuels conference in Tifton earlier this year. She seems to be one of those people that are blessed with the instinct to know what to say. And she says it in a way that makes you take notice and take it seriously.

I'm very impressed with her and hope she does well this year. I'll be looking for her even beyond this election year.

Chris said...

Great story, Amy. Lauren is very lucky to have such a dedicated booster!

I'm impressed that the local papers all throughout the state (even in many Republican areas) have so internalized the truth about Sonny's school cuts. Glad to see the truth being reported so that people can really make up their own mind about it.

Tina said...

Loved the story! Lauren has the people skills, the common sense, and the background and training to represent her constituency well in Atlanta! You go, Lauren! (To the legislature, that is!!)

Georgia Voter said...

Am I the only one troubled by the fact that Lauren is surrounding herself with the likes of Ike “David Duke” Liston? Either she has not lived here long enough to know her local politics – or she is an opportunist and does not mind embarrassing good men like Senator Brown by having him share an event with a man who is, literally, banned from county commission meetings for calling a commissioner a racial slur – AT THE MEETING! Lauren should call Senator Brown (and Roy Barnes for that matter) to apologize for her friendship with this well-known racist and publicly reject any further support from Ike Liston.

Please Lauren, show us that you are the progressive, refreshing kind of candidate that we all think you are – not just the same ole politician type playing the good ole boy games of telling everyone what you want them want to hear!

Amy Morton said...

I don't know Ike Liston, but I do know Lauren Benedict and find her to be exactly that "refreshing" kind of candidate you mentioned. I am equally certain that both Sen. Brown and Gov. Barnes are 100% in her corner. I know Freeman is scared. The momenteum in this race is clearly with Lauren.

Tina said...

One of the things that's refreshing about Lauren Benedict is that she's NOT a politician.