Republican candidates Alan Cole and Meagan Hanson face off against each other July 26 in the GOP runoff for the House District 80 nod to go up against Democrat incumbent Taylor Bennett in November. House District 80 includes Brookhaven and a portion of Sandy Springs.

In the May 24 primary, Cole garnered about 36 percent of the vote with Hanson in second with about 34 percent. Catherine Bernard finished third with about 30 percent of the vote.

Before the primary vote, Hanson and Cole answered questions as part of a Voters Guide for Reporter Newspapers. Here are their answers.

 Voters Guide: Alan Cole

Alan Cole

Retired small business  owner

Neighborhood/community you live in:  Oak Forest Hills Subdivision for the past 43 years

Past political experience:  Past Precinct Chair for the Montgomery Precinct; Sergeant at Arms at State Convention in Savannah, GA

Other experience in community: I have been involved with zoning and traffic issues for the past 30 years.  Currently serving on the Ashford Dunwoody Corridor Study.

Q: Why are you running for this office?

A: I am running for House District 80 because we need to take this seat back from the Democrats.

Q: Why should the voters choose you?

A: I am the best candidate to beat the incumbent for District 80!
Q: If elected, what’s the first thing you want to accomplish in office?

A: Freeze the taxes on principal place of residence for individuals age 62 and older.

Q: What do you see as the biggest problem facing the district you seek to represent?

A: Transportation.
Q: What do you see as the biggest problem facing the state?

A: Keeping and growing small businesses in the State of Georgia.
Q: If a “religious freedom” bill similar to the one passed this session and vetoed by Gov. Deal is offered again next year, how would you vote on it?

A: Vote against it.

Q: If it comes up again in the Legislature next year, would you support some form of new tax to expand MARTA?

A: Undecided.

Voters Guide: Meagan Hanson

Meagan Hanson

Attorney

Neighborhood/community you live in:  Brookhaven

Past political experience: From working on Capitol Hill for Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama to serving as Chairman of the Georgia Young Republicans, my political experience covers the gamut from legislative policy analysis to grassroots volunteer efforts.

Other experience in the community:  As a member of the Junior League of Atlanta, I mentored female Latina students from Cross Keys High School through the League’s partnership with the Latin American Association. On a state level, I served in leadership and eventually was the Chairman of the State Public Affairs Committee (SPAC) for the Junior Leagues of Georgia.  While I served in leadership roles on SPAC, we actively promoted, helped organize, and participated in children’s literacy events around the state. We brought awareness to and helped to advocate for legislation to end sex trafficking.

For more information: Website- www.HansonforHouse.com; Facebook: www.facebook.com/hansonforhouse

Q: Why are you running for this office?

A: We deserve an effective voice in the State House that represents the principles, concerns, and issues of our community—not someone who has a personal agenda or simply wants a title. This House district- Brookhaven, Sandy Springs, and Chamblee—has seen many changes over the last few years and we need a Representative who has gone through the growing pains with our community, but who offers fresh, positive solutions on the future.

Q: Why should the voters choose you?

A: I’m a fiscal-conservative who believes the government should be limited in its power and accountable to the people. I believe in transparency, accountability, and the adherence to the highest ethical standards in government. I am the proven conservative who will work every day to rein in corrupt county governments, reduce the tax burden on our citizens, improve education, and promote free-market principles to grow our economy.

Q: If elected, what’s the first thing you want to accomplish in office?

A: I would request to be on State House Committees that hear legislation that affects our community—transportation (MARTA), education, and economic development. These committee assignments would allow me to be our community’s voice in the issues that affect us daily.

Q: What do you see as the biggest problem facing the district you seek to represent?

A: Education and transportation challenges tie for the biggest problem the district faces. My husband and I moved to Brookhaven because we loved the sense of community. But, I cannot accept that we are simultaneously paying tax dollars for education yet we feel forced to send our children to private schools or, when bumper-to-bumper traffic prevent us from making that playoff baseball game at Murphy Candler Park.

Q: What do you see as the biggest problem facing the state?

Lately, Georgia is graduating students from high school who cannot read or perform simple mathematics, and yet our state spends more per-capita on education than any state surrounding us. Not only are we failing taxpayers whose money is being spent, but we are failing our children by not providing them the quality education needed to pursue the American dream. In order to compete in a world economy, our education system must be world class. There is no excuse.

Q: If a “religious freedom” bill similar to the one passed this session and vetoed by Gov. Deal is offered again next year, how would you vote on it?

A; I strongly support Gov. Deal’s veto of HB 757. Georgia is facing significant issues in our education and transportation systems; when elected, I will focus on economic issues that affect citizens’ everyday lives.

Q: If it comes up again in the Legislature next year, would you support some form of new tax to expand MARTA?

A; It’s clear to anyone who commutes in Atlanta that the status quo isn’t working. All potential options, including MARTA expansion, need to be considered and thoroughly reviewed to determine what is right for our community, what is the best use of taxpayer money, and what will actually work in reducing traffic gridlock. What I would support is prioritizing transportation dollars to provide MARTA additional money for expansion if we ensure that taxpayers are getting the best return on their investment.