With Tuesday’s state House District 5 special election now behind them, the campaigns of Republicans Jesse Vaughn and Matt Barton were extended for another month, with the candidates now heading back out to push their messages to voters before their Feb. 5 runoff.
The runoff — to decide which candidate will fill the seat left open after the death of Rep. John Meadows — pits the two top vote getters in a six-candidate field against each other. Vaughn finished with 33.72 percent of the 3,520 votes cast in the special election to Barton’s 23.15 percent.
A runoff was the anticipated scenario both Vaughn and Barton expected heading into Tuesday, centering their attention on just being one of the two to secure a spot in it. Now with that accomplished, both candidates are encouraging voters to get out and hear what they have to say about their policies.
“It’s too important to not hear what we have to say,” said Barton, the owner of courier business which focuses on the healthcare industry, in making the case for voters to ask questions and get to know both candidates.
Vaughn, a local attorney who opened his own law firm in town more than a decade ago, shared in message of casting this election as one of extreme importance to Gordon and Murray counties, as well as Northwest Georgia as a whole.
“This is my home,” he said, adding that he plans to do the best job possible in supporting the constituents of House District 5.
Both Vaughn and Barton said the weeks ahead will match much of what they’ve been doing since the special election was called in early December, speaking publicly on their principles and building critical relationships with community members.
Vaughn compared his work as an attorney in the community with what he would do if elected — helping locals with problems they may have with the government. As a state representative, the role calls for not only supporting his constituents and responding to issues they may have, but to act as the voice in Atlanta for local governments and the elected officials who fill those posts.
Barton, who previously served on the Calhoun Board of Education and City Council, brings business and political experience in his bid for the House seat, he said.
“My main principle is to keep taxes as low as possible,” he said.
Barton followed this us by saying he aims to keep government from hindering the development and growth of business, allowing business owners to thrive on their own abilities.
The two Republicans both mentioned education on Tuesday night, joining in their push to see that the state’s funding formula for education is fully funded.
“The primary investment as a state is in our future, in our children,” Vaughn said, adding that he would like to see education broadened, specifically to build the workforce and ready students with professional skills needed to enter it. “How are we going to function if we don’t have enough plumbers?”
“We need to make sure teachers are supported ... and do not have to teach to the test,” Barton said, adding he would like to see greater freedom granted to educators in cultivating students to perform well at life not just on exams.