Scott steps through Bainbridge

Published 9:15 pm Friday, July 17, 2009

On his more than 1,000-mile “walk of Georgia” campaigning for the 2010 governor’s race, State Rep. Austin Scott made his way into Bainbridge Friday afternoon.

A native of Tifton, Ga., Scott has represented Tift and Turner counties for the House District 153 for 14 years and has served on the Appropriations, Rules and the Ways and Means committees.

After choosing to become a candidate for Georgia governor, Scott made the decision to walk more than 1,000 miles across the state in order to meet with citizens, hear their concerns and ask for their vote.

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His journey began on June 27 at Chickamauga, Ga., in northwest Georgia and averaging 10 to 15 miles each day he has walked down the western side of the state stopping in numerous cities along the way including Rome, LaGrange, Columbus and Colquitt. He spent the night with his cousin, Scott Ewing, of Bainbridge.

His path will take him to all four corners of the state. Heading out from Bainbridge he will walk to the ocean at Brunswick and then up the coast all the way to Clayton in the northeast corner. His long walk will end when he reaches the State Capitol in Atlanta.

Friday afternoon Scott, armed only with the clothes on his back, a good hat, a pair of walking shoes, GPS system and cell phone, trekked from Colquitt to Bainbridge. He made his way south on U.S. 27 then traveled east on U.S. 84 before crossing over the Calhoun Street bridge and stopping off at The Post-Searchlight to rest his feet and share some of his stories from his journey, political beliefs and aspirations should he become governor.

When asked what encouraged him to make the arduous journey, Scott said he understood he wouldn’t be able to raise the amount of campaign contribution large enough to rival his opponents so he decided to take a face-to-face approach.

“Americans are fed up with politics and this is a way for me to meet people across the state,” said Scott. “I want people to know that there is a candidate in this race that cares about Georgians and is willing to share their pain.”

When asked what he has learned from talking with Georgia citizens, Scott expressed the level of disconnect people have expressed with government. He said citizens have genuinely expressed their desire to have government where someone will, “tell them the truth, give them a proposed solution and then lead.”

“I’ve been surprised with the fear that is out there about where the country is heading, and the huge disconnect between the general public and those who are elected,” said Scott.

He also said he has spoken with many citizens about simple legislation that would help people out in their day-to-day life; for instance in speaking with a semi-tractor trailer truck driver he learned how in Florida and Alabama drivers are allowed to correct weight distribution problems and continue driving—instead of simply being issued tickets as is the case in Georgia.

Slated as a Republican candidate with a pro-growth economy agenda, Scott was asked; what would you do to help rural southwest Georgia, which has been hit hard by the recession and unemployment?

He responded saying that as a small business owner himself he would concentrate on helping small businesses grow and expand by simplifying many of the state-mandated processes like reporting liability and taxes to give business owners back their much needed time.

One significant focal point Scott proposes as he campaigns is to correct the State Department of Revenue (DOR).

“We have to ensure accurate tax collection before we can get all other systems in place,” he said. “The DOR doesn’t have adequate systems and personnel to ensure accurate tax collections,” said Scott.

He said that currently the demand for government services goes up and the collections are going down. One aspect of tax collection he would like to amend is moving taxation of tobacco and alcohol from “mom and pop” businesses to wholesalers—where he feels adequate taxation is not taking place.

He said he will also work to have the state budget released earlier to give legislators more time to work on it. He said this will also help alleviate the problem with inaccurate funding figures being released to local governments, school boards and other agencies.

“I would rather tell a school system a lower number but be accurate,” said Scott.

Friday night, Scott stayed in Bainbridge at the Jameson Inn where he was able to spend some time with his family. This morning Scott said he plans to eat lunch in Bainbridge and meet with local citizens before he begins walking to Cairo, Ga. accompanied by his 10-year-old son for part of the way.