ROSSVILLE -- There was no verbal sparring Tuesday night at a debate between Alan Painter and John Deffenbaugh, the two Republican candidates in the Aug. 21 runoff for Georgia House District 1.
Instead, there was poetry.
Introducing himself to an audience of some 40 people at the Rossville Civic Center, Deffenbaugh stressed the importance of building relationships and recited a poem by Edwin Markham to make his point.
"He drew a circle that shut me out/Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout/But Love and I had the wit to win/We drew a circle that took him in," Deffenbaugh said. "That's going to be my motto and my purpose."
Painter cited job creation as his top priority.
"The reason I chose to step up is the young people my son's age do not have the same opportunities that I did at his age -- early 20s," he said.
Local radio personality Bobby Daniels posed questions, including what could be done about what Daniels said was the flight of business from Northwest Georgia.
Both candidates said Georgia's income tax puts it at a disadvantage to Tennessee.
Painter, who'd like to serve on House Special Committee on Small Business Development and Job Creation, said he'd like Georgia to follow the lead of Oklahoma, which proposed cutting the income tax to 3.5 percent and eventually phasing it out.
"I prefer to give [tax relief] to everybody," Painter said.
Deffenbaugh said that attracting a big business, such as an auto assembly plant was unlikely. But District 1, which includes Walker and Dade counties, should strive to attract smaller businesses, he said.
One thing that hurts this area, Deffenbaugh said, is that "40 percent of ninth-graders will not finish high school. I think that's a real tragedy."
Education is one of the committees on which Deffenbaugh said he would like to serve, if elected.
Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6651.
Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.