Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Brett Harrell answers questions about state House race

Brett Harrell answers questions about state House race
by D. Dixon is an Examiner from Atlanta.

July 27, 3:12 PM

When Georgia State Representative Melvin Everson recently decided to run for the office of Labor Commissioner, Harrell decided he would enter the race for State Representative House seat 106.

Brett Harrell served as Mayor of Snellville from 2000-2003, has been Executive Director of the Evermore Improvement District from September of 2003 to May, 2009. Brett Harrell has also been a small business owner for twenty years.

I asked both Twitter land and Facebook users to send in their questions for Brett Harrell, and the questions and answers are shared below.

@thekencook asks:

Who do you support for Governor?

Originally, Casey Cagle; however, since his departure from the race and my decision to enter the House race, I have not made a decision on which gubernatorial candidate I will personally vote for.

What do you think of Barnes entering the race?

Governor Barnes will energize a segment of the electorate and encourage additional citizens to get involved – that’s positive. His entrance may also shape much of the debate and that may be helpful and instructive as well.

How far will you go for State's Rights?

I believe our Federal government is constitutionally limited and those powers not specifically provided are reserved for the states and/or individuals. I will defend Georgia’s right to self-govern and Georgian’s right to self-determination to the fullest consistent with the U.S. Constitution.

If you were voting on HB1, how would you vote?

I believe life begins at conception and from that point until natural death each person has an unalienable right to life endowed by their Creator as clearly stated in our Declaration. That said, I would vote No on HB1 for numerous reasons including the bill’s inclusion of unnecessary and extraneous material that serves only to incite, fails to advance the cause, and may encourage legal challenge.

Do you understand HR1 (this one is a resolution, not a bill) and do you think it is the right thing for the citizens?

I believe I do and I believe the question goes beyond HR 1 and the freezing of property reassessments. Similar initiatives have been tried in cities, counties and states around the country, and they haven’t worked well. However, I understand the frustration with rising real estate assessments that often fail to accurately reflect true market value. We need comprehensive property tax reform in Georgia. So, instead of focusing on one particular exemption or another or freezing reassessments, we need to overhaul the entire system to make it just and equitable for all our homeowners and businesses.

@DLTMontana asks:

What is your plan to help balance the budget while tax revenues continue to deteriorate?

I support a two-fold approach. First, the zero-based budgeting proposal requires that all State agencies and departments, periodically, justify their existence by developing a budget starting at $0 rather than the prior year’s spending. Over time, zero-based budgeting will limit bloat in worthwhile programs and departments and reveal those programs and departments that have outlived their usefulness to the taxpayers and therefore, should be discontinued. Second, the Legislature also needs to re-examine on a periodic basis the numerous exemptions, allowances, and exclusions provided in the voluminous laws passed each session for opportunities to repeal those provisions no longer positively contributing to our State. The repeals would thereby increase state revenues.

What will you do that is "Pro-small business" in Gwinnett?

Both my parents own small businesses as does my wife and as I did for twenty years. State government’s primary burden on small business is administrative. Frequently the reporting requirements and information is the same furnished to the Departments of Labor, Revenue, Licensing and others. I believe we can streamline reporting, standardize the information and reporting cycles, and relieve small business of a significant burden of compliance and penalties that result from attempting to comply.

Further, the State must recognize that economic development is not simply about attracting new business, but includes opportunities for existing small businesses to grow and prosper. Appropriate incentives providing a measurable return on taxpayer investment should be available to existing small business as well as larger corporate relocations.

Dan Dixon asks:

What do you want to accomplish in the Georgia House of Representatives?

Working with my fellow Legislators, I want to accomplish the following:

Transportation: Finally pass a transportation funding plan that will result in measurable improvements to mobility, congestion mitigation, and access.

Service Delivery: Complete a comprehensive streamlining of state government that includes zero-based budgeting, elimination of numerous entitlements and exemptions, and fairly and efficiently delivers services to our taxpayers at the lowest possible cost.

Education: Preserve our public education system while allowing expansion of charter schools and school choice by empowering parents and local educators to determine the best environment for each individual child.

Taxes: Reform the outdated tax code of Georgia resulting in improved efficiencies and lower taxes on our families and businesses. What worked 50 years ago, may not work today. By reducing the burden of government, we will encourage expansion of private enterprise and additional job creation.

As the campaign moves forward, I will present plans and ideas to accomplish these goals.

What can be done in Georgia about unfunded mandates from the federal government?

Not all federal programs are mandatory; sometimes we just have to say no. By saying yes to every offer, we have too often tied our hands, given up local control, and shackled our local taxpayers with burdens that last years.

In other instances, we must advocate forcefully with our Congressional delegation to pass changes to federal regulations, especially administrative authority within many departments that has grown beyond its’ original intent, to eliminate the burden on state governments imposed by passage of federal legislation. We must also do the same with regard to state mandates passed on to our counties and cities.

What do you think of term limits for the Legislative Branch?

Clearly the Constitution and our Founding Father’s realized the need for term limits within the Executive Branch. I suspect most would have also supported term limits for legislators as well. I certainly support term limits as I implemented limits on both the Office of Mayor and Council in Snellville when in office previously.

How much government is too much on the state level?

Just as the federal government is limited by the U.S. Constitution, our State Constitution establishes the parameters for local government. I believe firmly in free-market principles and individual liberty and responsibility; therefore, I will work to limit the scope of government whenever possible and whenever government attempts to grow beyond its’ Constitutional bounds.

@SnellvilleBlog asks:

What would you consider to be your biggest failure, and how did you come back from it?

My biggest failure in public life was the inability to secure our community’s overwhelming desire regarding billboards and being forced via court order to stand aside as improperly manufactured structures were patched and re-erected. I don’t know that one ever comes back from a tragedy that results in the loss of innocent life, you fight the good fight, you eventually move on, but you never forget or feel a complete sense of recovery.

If someone came to you and expressed a desire to get into political office, what advice would you give?

I would encourage them to pursue their desire. I would encourage them to maintain a sense of vision, excitement, passion, and service and guard against cynicism, detachment, and personal animosity. Holding political office can be a tough job, but immensely gratifying too when you are a part of solving a problem impacting your community.

My campaign slogan is Less Talk, More Action, Brett Harrell Delivers. I have been fortunate to be a part of several significant improvements to our community – Snellville’s new City Hall, Senior Center, and Recycling Center and the soon to be completed U.S. 78 safety project that removed the overhead reversible lane and light system. It is very gratifying to witness hundreds and thousands of citizens benefit from such improvements and if fortunate enough to represent our community at the State Capitol, I intend to continue delivering for all who live or work in District 106.

How can people get involved in your campaign?

I welcome any and all that would like to get involved with the campaign. There are many opportunities:

Join our Facebook supporter page and receive campaign updates and information.www.facebook.com/voteharrell [add a link on your page too]

Encourage your friends, neighbors, and co-workers to do the same.

Volunteer to be a street or neighborhood Captain (assist with signs, literature, phone calls)

Invite me to a neighborhood, church, or business event to visit, listen, or speak.

Support the campaign financially by contributing to: Friends of Brett Harrell, P.O. Box 1135, Snellville, GA 30078 or via a secure online contribution at: http://www.voteharrell.com/

You can reach Brett Harrell at 404-966-5804 or by email: Brett@VoteHarrell.com

Connect with me:

You can follow me on Twitter -You can also find Gwinnett County Headlines Examiner on Facebook Have an interesting story? E-mail me! I can't promise to use everything you send, but I do promise to consider it.
Author: D. Dixon

You can see D.'s articles on D.'s Home Page.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Walton Co. Tea Party - Remarks on 22nd Amendment

I was honored to be asked to share remarks at the Walton County Tea Party, on our Independence Day, July 4, 2009 on the 22nd Amendment.

Good evening, I am Brett Harrell from Gwinnett and I will share some thoughts on the 22nd Amendment, ratified in 1951 and provides that, “No person shall be elected to the Office of President more than twice.”

In common language, the 22nd Amendment to our Constitution establishes Term Limits for our highest elected executive office. It is an example that ought to be emulated throughout the executive branches of government at all levels as our Founder’s wisely established a system of citizen legislators not career politicians.

Before you surmise the 22nd Amendment, ratified in 1951, was simply a more recent response to President Franklin Roosevelt’s four terms, recall the words of Thomas Jefferson in 1805 who wrote, “General Washington set the example of voluntary retirement after eight years. I shall follow it and a few more precedents will oppose the obstacle of habit to anyone after a while who shall endeavor to extend his term. Perhaps it may beget a disposition to establish it by an amendment of the Constitution.” Clearly Jefferson contemplated Constitutional term limits.

Further evidence our Founder’s intended limited terms for many in public office, Jefferson wrote in 1807, “If some to the service of the Chief Magistrate be not fixed by the Constitution or supplied by practice, his office normally four years, will in fact become life.” His letter to the Legislature of Vermont continued, “Believing that a representative government, responsible at short periods of election, is that which produces the greatest sum of happiness to mankind. I feel it a duty to do no act which shall essentially impair that principle; and I should unwillingly be the person who, disregarding the sound precedent set by an illustrious predecessor, should finish the first example of prolongation beyond the second term of office.”

Our Founder’s recognized the dangers of extended terms and in practice, voluntarily set term limits themselves. They understood the dangers of an accumulation of power and their actions reflected the adage of Lord Acton who wrote in 1887, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

As citizens, we must remain ever vigilant. We cannot rest on the wise counsel of our Founding Fathers or even an established Amendment to our Constitution.

Consider that on January 20, 2009, the very day President Barack Obama swore an Oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, those that would see him serve indefinitely launched an internet campaign and website at End22.com an effort to repeal the 22nd Amendment. New York Representative Jose Serrano introduced House Resolution 5, as his has done several times previously, on January 6, 2009 to abolish the 22nd Amendment.

Were it not for the incredible personal integrity of our first President George Washington, we may very well live under a Monarch today. As free citizens, we must remain vigilant and involved and we must insist that those we elect serve with the integrity, courage, and honor of our Founders.

Thank you, happy Independence Day, and God Bless you all.