Before Republican candidates took the stage to speak about their campaign platforms, a meet-and-greet was held.
2012 is the "Year of the Republican." This was the general consensus at Saturday's 5th Annual Tomato Sandwich Picnic.
The picnic, held at Sandy Bottom Farm in Tate, is a family-friendly event that allows Republican candidates to come together and speak while enjoying fresh tomato sandwiches under the warm Georgia sun.
Approximately 15 offices up for election were represented, including tax commissioner, district attorney, coroner, school board posts 1 and 4, and county commissioner candidates.
With only three minutes to speak, more than 30 Republican candidates discussed their campaigns and hopes for not only the future of the country, but for Georgia and, of course, Pickens County.
This is "God's Country," district 1 commissioner candidate Marty Callahan said of Pickens County. And, according to many of the candidates, it is in “God’s Country” that the United States’ political reform must begin.
“We gotta start at the grassroots,” proclaimed Jerry Barnes, also a candidate for the position of district 1 commissioner.
Becky Denney, one of two candidates for district 2 commissioner office, explains the need for such a change in not only the United States’ political agenda, but the local agenda as well.
“It’s about service and giving back,” she said. “We need to attract jobs to the [local] community. We have to preserve and protect the natural beauty.”
The necessity of this change is overwhelming, according to many of the Republican speakers. Martha Zoller, a congressional candidate for the new 9th District, proclaimed that the “American Dream is under siege.” Zoller addressed the issue of “21st Century citizen engagement,” saying that the government needs to be more focused on the needs of the people.
In addition to the chance to explain their campaigns and views, candidates were able to dispel any rumors or misunderstandings that may taint the judgment of voters or fellow candidates.
The candidates, even those who are running for the same office, were courteous and friendly. They were able to agree on the issue of change. Rick Jasperse, House Representative of the 12th District, commented that because people are running against each other “there is gonna be some contention, some hurt feelings,” but that candidates and supporters need to remember that once the July 31 voting primary is over, the chosen candidates will need support in order to “change Washington,” he said.
Congressman Tom Graves announced “this is a very serious time in our nation.”
A spokesperson for 9th District Congressional candidate Doug Collins asserted that it was time to “take the country back.”
Andrew Turnage, 9th District GOP Chairman, believes that the 9th and 14th Districts can make a change. According to Turnage, while others are now being reintroduced to the concept of ‘We the People,’ [the districts] “have never strayed away from ‘We the People.’”