FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Two candidates for the open Georgia House of Representatives District 26 seat faced off Oct. 25 during a debate.
Republican Tina Trent and Democrat Steve Smith answered questions about hot topics affecting the state and country including why they should be elected, and their thoughts on civil rights monuments and the Second Amendment.
The third candidate, Republican Marc Morris, did not was not in attendance.
The event was sponsored by the Forsyth Tea Party and the United Tea Party of Georgia.
Smith said he wants to be a voice for the working families in Forsyth County. He hopes to also ease tensions between the political parties.
“The environment has been toxic the past few years,” Smith said. “Even between Republicans, Democrats, conservatives and liberals, there is a lot of common ground and we can find it.”
Trent said during her 30 years in the social work and policy work sectors, she had a lot of epiphanies, ultimately realizing the people she thought she was helping, she was hurting, especially in relation to efforts to reform welfare.
“I thought, ‘why wouldn’t you want to reform welfare or get people off public assistance?” Trent said. “That was one of the many small steps I took from being a Democrat to being a Republican to being a conservative. I still want to help people who are poor and need more help.”
The two spoke about gun control rights and the Second Amendment.
Smith said he supports the Second Amendment and believes in the right to bear arms.
“Now, that said, our freedoms are not absolute,” Smith said. “We need to be able to talk about issues around guns without it becoming a slippery slope argument that if we do anything at it, it’s going to result in all the guns being taken away.”
Guns are a huge part of Southern culture, he said, and he is cognizant of that.
“Those things are important,” Smith said. “A lot of people talk about the Second Amendment not being there for those purposes, but for protecting ourselves from government tyranny, and absolutely that’s right. We need to be able to start having these conversations with each other.”
Trent said the agenda of the Democrat Party is centered on gun control, and when an elected official is at the state Capitol, they would be expected to represent that agenda.
“The Republican Party is the one that believes in having the right to have gun ownership and the Democratic Party wants to limit gun ownership,” Trent said. “Legal gun owners are responsible gun owners. It’s part of our culture. The Democratic Party does actually want to take this away from us.”
Historical monuments, often ones dedicated to confederate history, have raised heated debates, especially in the South.
Trent said she is a social historian by training and is against removing the monuments. In the schools, including college, Trent said education and history have been destroyed.
Every monument and social movement that creates a monument have complicated histories, Trent said.
“By simply tearing these down, we are depriving people an understanding of their own past, which can have different interpretations,” Trent said. “If our reaction to people’s feeling’s being hurt or activists making demands more likely, is to simply say ‘let’s eradicate history,’ then that’s the path of fascism. It’s important we give students tools to discern what our history means rather than actually simply erasing it.”
Smith said it’s up to the individual municipalities to decide what to keep.
“I don’t need somebody to put a monument up to remind me of something,” Smith said. “Aside from the dates of when things happened, history is an opinion. It depends on who you ask because there are always two sides to every story.”
To view the full debate, visit http://bit.ly/2yeR189.