State Rep. Ben Allen, a Democratic candidate for the newly created 12th District, is asking voters to look at his experience before deciding.
As a lawmaker, Mr. Allen played a significant role in creating the district. He has come under fire for the wide-ranging district, which stretches from Athens to Savannah to his hometown - Augusta.
Question: Why are you running?
Answer: "This is something I've always wanted to do. I believe politics goes a long way in creating a quality way of life. Good people will elect good public servants, and they will enact good laws. I just want to be a part of that process. This is what I want to do - all my adult life, I've prepared for this. This is my lifelong love, to be in position as a public servant to help. This is where I want to be."
Question: What are your main goals?
Answer: "I don't consider myself on a mission. My No. 1 goal is to be available and accessible. I've been in every county and the No. 1 concern of everyone I've met is 'Will I see you again?' I've assured each person I've come in contact with that I will be responsible and responsive.
"The other main goal is the idea of health care. You've got seniors with high cost of medication, single parents we will be out front to push for affordable health care to be available to all. We live in the richest country in the world, therefore health care should be available.
"The third thing is economic development. We have all the resources in place to ensure a great economic base in the 12th District. We have military and educational institutions - we need to stabilize and strengthen these resources and use them to recruit."
Question: How would you politically define yourself?
Answer: "I would say I'm a moderate. I'm someone who believes in ideas, but that doesn't mean I can't work across party lines. I don't think any party has a monopoly of brain trust. There are good ideas in both parties, but it's up to the public servant to look for the good."
Question: When the General Assembly was redistricting the state, there was some speculation they were doing it with you in mind. What do you think about the sprawling district?
Answer: "This district was drawn for the people of the 12th District. ... We have some of the poorest counties in the state. I want to pull together those counties with other counties of similar interests. I thought, 'We can create a balance.' Counties like Athens-Clarke, Richmond and Chatham can pull up the quality of some other counties.
"(The redistricting) was done to improve the quality of life in these areas. I believe we can make this work. We have the makings of something good, all we have to do is get the right person to lead."
Question: How would you bolster the Savannah area?
Answer: "Savannah thrives off the port, off of tourism. Savannah has things in place, it's a matter of stabilizing what's here, strengthening it and maximizing its use. For instance, we know there's going to be another round of base closings, so we need to convince leaders these bases are vital and we need to sell that idea."
Question: What is your message to the people of Savannah?
Answer: "Ben Allen is a proven leader with experience and integrity. That one sentence is it."
Democratic candidate for the 12th District
Family: Wife, Sheila; son, James Benjamin, 28
Political experience: Georgia House of Representatives, 1995-present; secretary of the Judiciary Committee
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