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Poythress visits Bainbridge

Retired Maj. Gen. David Poythress, a Democratic candidate for Georgia governor in 2010, met with a small group of civic-minded persons in Bainbridge Friday afternoon.

Poythress, who is the immediate past commander of the Georgia Army and Air National Guard, also previously served as Georgia’s Commissioner of Labor and Secretary of State. He ran for governor once before in 1998.

The candidate met informally with citizens over a cup of coffee at the Book Nook on Scott Street. Book Nook owner Jim Smith said Mrs. Elizabeth Poythress had stopped by his store on a recent trip and later suggested her husband make a campaign stop there.

Education is one of the main issues of Poythress’ campaign platform. He said he has a four-step plan to improve Georgia’s educational system so its students can compete with their peers in the United States and the world.

He said he would stop cutting education funding for public schools. He would restore recent cuts to K-12 education budgets, invest in classroom technology that could aid in learning and support initiatives to attract and retain more teachers in order to lower class sizes.

Poythress said he believes No Child Left Behind, the education initiative Congress passed during the leadership of former U.S. President George W. Bush, has been a failure because, in his view, it places too much pressure on teachers and penalizes schools by taking away money or closing them if they don’t perform up to par.

“I want to make our workforce globally competitive,” Poythress said. “The fact that 35 percent of students drop out of high school in Georgia is totally unacceptable.”

Poythress is also concerned about the tremendous loss of revenue Georgia has experienced due to the economic recession.

If elected, Poythress would order a review of state tax law. He said his idea would be to make state legislators think seriously about whether existing sales tax exemptions for special interests should be kept or ended, with the hope that more revenue could be generated.

The candidate said he was also in favor of looking into whether sales tax should be charged on items purchased over the Internet.

Poythress said he believes Georgia can create more jobs by investing in areas where it is already strong, such as biotechnology and production of alternative energy sources.