By Valerie Baldowski
About 25 members of the Republican Women of Henry County gathered Thursday to hear state Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John Oxendine's views on the Democratic and Republican parties, and the need for accountability in government.
The 2010 gubernatorial candidate spoke during the group's monthly meeting, held at Golden Corral on Jonesboro Road in McDonough.
Oxendine said he supports the Fair Tax Act, efforts at the grassroots level to repeal the 16th Amendment, vouchers for public schools and the construction of more roads to relieve traffic congestion.
In light of the newly-elected Democratic leadership on the national level, Oxendine said he was concerned about Republicans in Georgia switching their affiliation to the Democratic Party. He said loyalty to state Republican leaders is weak, and he believes the next governor of Georgia should work closely with the Republican Party chairman.
"If we ever lose power, at least I know folks like you will be here with us," Oxendine told the group. "You're not going to jump ship."
Oxendine believes leaders in the House of Representatives and the Senate are not working together in the legislative process. If elected, he pledged to make sweeping changes.
"I think our elected officials should have a servant's heart," he said. "I want to literally transform state government."
In the last election, Oxendine said, Georgia voters gave the Republican Party an opportunity to govern. "I don't think we're doing a good job at it," he said.
Oxendine also expressed concern over the recent string of arsons in Henry County. In shaky economic times, he said, there is an increase in arson cases. His staff is working with local authorities on the fires, and he said a reward of up to $10,000 is being offered for information.
Oxendine advises individuals with information on the fires to call the Henry County Police, or his 24-hour arson hotline, 1-800-282-5804.
Reaction to his message was varied.
"I hope he can follow through" with his plans, said Barbara Keith. "Of course, I haven't heard all the other candidates yet."
Keith agrees with Oxendine's views on governmental leadership and accountability, but has not decided who she would vote for in the governor's race.
"I like a lot of what he said," Keith said. "[But] I don't know who I'm going to support when the time comes. It's too early to say."
Oxendine successfully highlighted issues important to the Republican Women of Henry County, said Allie Gelineau, the group's president. Gelineau praised his knowledge of the issues in Henry County, and his stand on the 16th Amendment.
Connie Moss was supportive as well.
"I think if he does half as good a job as governor as he has done as insurance commissioner, he'll be fabulous," she said.