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State Senate Candidates Differ In T-SPLOST Support

Republican Senate District 6 candidates met for the first time Tuesday night in a forum and debate.

Republican candidates seeking a new Sandy Springs, Buckhead and Smyrna state Senate seat support charter schools and oppose , but differ widely on whether metro Atlanta voters should adopt a regionwide transportation sales tax referendum next year, known as .

The candidates met Tuesday night in Buckhead during the contest’s , sponsored by the Mount Paran-Northside Citizens Association. Incumbent state Sen. Doug Stoner, D-Smyrna, was invited to participate but did not attend.

Under new attendance lines drawn by the state legislature using 2010 census data, Stoner’s District 6 now stretches from Smyrna and Vinings through Sandy Springs and Buckhead.

“I support the transportation referendum,” said , a Buckhead resident and attorney. “It is not a perfect solution, but it moves us in the direction of where we want to be.”

Smyrna businessman opposes the measure. “If all of the projects being proposed under this initiative would solve our congestion problems, then I would be for it,” he said. “But a lot of the solutions do not actually do that.”

“This is not a candidate issue; it’s a voter issue, and mine is only one vote,” said Sandy Springs attorney . “I haven’t decided how I’d vote on it, but I’d rather focus on are new and innovative ways to fund transportation programs.”

All of the candidates also support giving the state of Georgia the authority to overrule individual school districts that reject or fail to renew applications.

“Charter schools allow individual schools to come together, form a charter and become more competitive than their former school,” Hill said.

“I do support the state having the ability to override local school districts on this issue,” Beskin said. “In every case, 100 percent of the kids who opt into the charter school aren’t happy with the existing school.”

And the GOP candidates also oppose the re-formation of Milton County, to the north of Fulton County.

“I understand the region’s frustration,” Belinfante said. “But a serious issue is how that separation affects the jury pool in Fulton County Superior Court.”

“If North Fulton wants to get a divorce from the rest of the county, we have to decide how to allocate assets, such as MARTA and Grady Hospital, as well as debt,” Beskin said. “We can’t have a perimeter around a dead zone.”

“We sink or swim as a metro Atlanta area,” Hill said. “We need to make South Fulton a stronger portion of the county, bring in better business, and solve the traffic congestion in our city.”

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