Newcomer challenges 10-term representative for District 136 seat

benw@ledger-enquirer.comOctober 17, 2012 

State Rep. Carolyn Hugley is seeking an 11th term in the redrawn House District 136 but faces a challenge from political newcomer Randy Kitchens.

The new district includes the heart of Columbus, snaking its way from the Harris County line in the north to near Chattahoochee County in the south. Hugley, a Democrat, and Kitchens, a Republican, will battle for the seat in the Nov. 6 general election.

Hugley, 54, said she wants to continue representing voters to address a number issues in the region.

"I'm running for re-election because I'm committed to the people of my district," she said. "We continue to have some serious challenges before us here in Georgia and those challenges demand commitment, courageous and caring leadership. I think I have provided that to our citizens."

Kitchens, 46, said he jumped into the race after continually watching legislators make decisions that are economically wrong for the country and state. In the federal Affordable Care Act, he said a clause states the power to regulate the insurance industry is in the Secretary of Health and Human Services Department, not the states. That power to decide which health product you can buy should be a state power, not a federal power, he said.

"Washington, D.C. doesn't understand individual needs of Georgians as well as Georgians do," Kitchens said.

Although the district has 8,000

new voters compared with the old map, Hugley said the issues are very similar.

They include more jobs, education and the economy.

People also are concerned about the future as it relates to health care.

In the previous session, Hugley said lawmakers spent a lot of time on anti-bully legislation.

Students now are facing cyber bullying, she said.

"Technology brings a lot of positive things to us," she said. "It also brings challenges as well."

Kitchens also cited the need for more jobs and improving the economy.

"Manufacturing jobs in West Point, Ga., they don't help us much down here," Kitchens said. "It's one step in the process. Bringing manufacturing jobs will also bring what I like to call feeder industries. These companies are small companies. They form to meet the special needs of these manufacturing firms."

He's also concerned about the lack of opportunities out of poverty.

Too many people are born in poverty and stay in poverty, he said.

To give people a way out, Kitchens said the government needs to partner with small businesses and spiritual leaders to educate people.

"There are many people who don't value the importance of education, therefore they don't make sure their kids get an education."

If Hugley is returned to the General Assembly, she said voters can expect her to be accessible.

"They can expect that I will go back to Atlanta and fight for them on the things that are important to them," she said.

As leader of the district, Kitchens said he would exert every pressure he can bring on government departments to help people develop the skills needed to be economically independent, instead of relying on the government for subsistence.

He also supports targeted tax exemptions for businesses opening manufacturing plants in economically depressed areas.

With almost two decades of service to voters, Hugley said she has been there for voters and delivered on her promise of accountability and trust.

"In these difficult times, we need somebody who cares, who is committed, effective and knows how to get things done," she said.

Kitchens, the conservative candidate, said he has been very open about his values.

He said he believes in personal responsibility, respect for the Constitution and in limited government.

"Lastly, I believe in respect for life," he said. "I believe to serve the people living today, having such freedom they can learn their path out of poverty."

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