Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle was back on the campaign trail Tuesday in Columbus after wrapping up the second day at the General Assembly in Atlanta.
Cagle, a Republican candidate for governor to fill the office held by Gov. Nathan Deal, was the featured speaker for about 70 supporters during the Muscogee County Republican Party’s monthly meeting at the DoubleTree Hotel on Sidney Simons Boulevard. He faces a crowded field for the Republican nomination with Secretary of State Brian Kemp, former state Sen. Hunter Hill and Sen. Michael Williams.
After attending a fundraiser Jan. 3 in downtown Columbus, Cagle returned to the city to focus on planning for a state projected to grow by 4.5 million people, expanding broadband connections, allowing choice in education and improving the infrastructure.
“Georgia is expected to grow by 4.5 million people, so we have to be ready to plan in what that growth is going to look like,” he said.
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A top priority is to build the infrastructure in roads and bridges to support the growth. “We’ve got to be willing to have a 10-year strategic plan to think out of the box to go under, over and around things of that nature,” he said before the meeting.
Cagle noted the state has roughly 100,000 jobs open, and 25 percent require a four-year degree. He said 75 percent need a pre-certification or a two-year degree from a technical school. Cagle supports giving more choice options to students.
“We want more development for every student so they can explore career pathways on what they want to do in life and give them the opportunity to make a much greater salary going forward,” he said.
The lieutenant governor said he also is concerned about poverty in a state with 25 percent of children living in poverty. The state has 40 counties with poverty greater than 30 percent. “We want to reverse that trend,” he said. “To do so, we’ve got to have education aligned with needs.”
Cagle said he has experience from serving two governors, and he knows what it’s like to make tough policy decisions. Experience matters, he said, and he has a conservative record, making Georgia the No. 1 state to do business.
Getting broadband and greater connectivity are important in the Columbus region, he said. “I’m excited about what our plan is going forward,” he said. “You don’t have to be in Atlanta to do business in Atlanta. You can do business from any corner of the world if you have connectivity in the state to broadband and the super highway.”
Alton Russell, chairman of the Muscogee County Republican Party, said about 100 people were expected for the event. Other candidates attending the event included attorney Josh McKoon, a candidate for Secretary of State, and Vance Smith, who is seeking a House seat.