For the first time in eight years, Georgians will elect a new governor in 2018.
Seven Republicans and two Democrats are seeking to replace Gov. Nathan Deal, who cannot run for a third term. Between now and primary day May 22, 11Alive.com will be bringing you a series of Q&A’s with each candidate who answers our questionnaire.
Today's interview is with Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. You can learn more about Cagle at his campaign website.
Also, look for more extensive coverage of this race and others until Election Day, Nov. 6, as Georgia Votes 2018.
1. What is the No. 1 challenge facing the state?
Georgia is expected to grow by 4.5 million people in the next decade and a half. To put that in perspective, that is like the entire population of South Carolina coming into our state.
That represents a great challenge. But, it also represents unprecedented opportunity, and I look forward to shaping that growth as the next governor of our state.
As governor, I will be committed to strategically deploying resources so we build out a world-class infrastructure network. Businesses must be able to move their products in a timely fashion, and Georgians need reliable drive times - free of gridlocked traffic - so they can get home to their families. Whether it is capitalizing on our existing assets by using movable barrier technologies or constructing additional infrastructure by going over, under, or around, I will remain committed to strategic transportation investments that move the needle for our state.
We also have to be laser-focused on building a workforce second to none so that the businesses in our state can easily find the talent that they need to grow and expand. As our state grows, we will continue to implement our successful education and workforce reforms so that every community has access to a pipeline of talented workers.
I've demonstrated my abilities to lead on these critical issues as Lt. Governor, and I look forward to leading Georgia into another decade of great prosperity.
2. If elected, how would you prioritize Atlanta’s needs compared to other cities and counties in Georgia?
Atlanta is undoubtedly the largest economic engine in our state. However, our state has limitless assets, including the fastest growing port in the nation, eight top-notch military bases that cover every branch of the armed forces, a $75 billion agriculture industry, world-class universities and a College and Career Network that is growing a workforce second to none. Industries - including film and manufacturing - continue to expand rapidly in communities all across our state.
As a product of rural Hall county, I know the struggles that many of our rural communities face. But, I also know the opportunities that are available. By expanding broadband access - like I led to do with the ACE Act - we can connect our rural communities with the prosperity of the 21st century. You don't have to live in Atlanta to do business with Atlanta, and broadband expansion will allow Georgia to create technological hubs that will ignite further economic growth in rural Georgia.
Additionally, building out our state's workforce with programs such as the College and Career Academy Network, GA CATT apprenticeship program, and Charter Systems ACT will allow small businesses in rural Georgia to grow and expand.
3. Your comments over the controversy surrounding Delta Air Lines and the NRA made national headlines. Are you concerned that some may interpret those comments as being indicative of a less-business-friendly approach under a Cagle gubernatorial administration than Gov. Deal’s?
I've worked hand-in-hand with Governor Deal to elevate Georgia as the number one state to do business. As a leader on the team that helped grow Georgia into one of the most economically competitive and business-friendly states in the nation, I think my pro-business record speaks for itself.
Georgia is a state with low taxes (and getting lower thanks to the historic tax cut we led to secure for Georgians), a friendly regulatory environment, a fair tort system, a world-class workforce, and the busiest airport and fastest growing port in the nation. In a Cagle administration, we are going to continue building on our successes to become an economic giant.
We just landed one of the biggest economic development deals in our history by welcoming Facebook to Georgia. We've welcomed Caterpillar, Kia, Mercedes Benz, and State Farm to go alongside Delta, Home Depot, UPS, Aflac, and the Southern Company. I look forward to the great opportunity that Amazon presents, and I believe we may well be welcoming them to Georgia soon.
Also, in my administration, I am going to fight for the small businesses owners in our state - because small business is our economic backbone!