"Bartow County is not unlike most of the rest of Senate District 31," said Heath, a Haralson County resident, who owns Design Specialists and B&S Farms, working as an engineer and farmer, respectively. "We are all trying to learn to live on less. The recession that this country and many others are experiencing has lessened the dollars available to us in our homes as well as at every level of government. The federal government has continued spending by borrowing and that has weakened our dollar and destroyed our confidence.
"The citizens of Bartow County are struggling to make ends meet in their homes and are having to do without some luxuries they enjoyed during better times. At the state level, we must cut our budget to match our decreased revenues just as our citizens have had to do. Tax increases are not an acceptable solution. ... I have spent a lot of time speaking to residents of Bartow County. I have found the greatest concern to be the fear of increased taxes and the lack of jobs. Everyone I have spoken to has told me that they can't bear any additional tax."
If elected, Bennett said he would try to stabilize the job market and work with companies to bring business into Bartow.
"We're not going to turn consumer confidence around if government doesn't get under control and step aside so that businesses can thrive once again," said Bennett, who ran for the District 31 post in 2008. "By far what is on most everyone's mind is the lack of jobs. We've not had support from our current incumbent leaders to bring jobs to our district for the past eight years. The other [top] issues are education, water and transportation, again all of which our current incumbent leaders have not supported, yet will create jobs. ... Jobs [are people's top concern] but it is more than that. People don't feel respected, or that their voice is not important, except for their hard-earned tax dollars.
"For the past eight years here in Georgia spending has gone out of control and taxes have increased across the board. Another area [of concern] are our seniors. I think it's criminal that someone ... has worked all their life to retirement age, not knowing if they'll be able to make ends meet, yet politicians want to cut their retirement benefits and already so many are struggling to keep up health care and putting food on their tables. Parents are concerned [about] how they'll pay for college or tech school, and frankly many are worried how they'll make their mortgage payment or feed their children. Concerns are really across the board, depending which age group you are talking to."
Referring to himself as a "conservative Christian Democrat," Bennett resides in Cartersville, attends Tabernacle Baptist Church with his wife, Jane, and is a small business owner, operating Bennett's Steakhouse and Grill in Cave Spring. He said he has received the endorsement of the Georgia Association of Educators and has the highest National Rifle Association rating presented to a non-legislative individual. He also is pro-Second Amendment and pro-life.
"I relate to people, most all people. I listen and care about their concerns. I'm driven and self-motivated to work hard until the job is done," said Bennett, referring to why he believes he is the best candidate for District 31. "I'm also one that will work across party lines for the good of the people, not for party politics. To me it's about doing the right thing. I feel that politicians have become the biggest part of our problem. Too many in office are concerned about party politics with their heads bobbing up and down like little yes men, rather than standing up for the people, involving the people and respecting the people.
"As a business owner, I know how to run a business. I've been self-employed for 17 years. I've had many years [of] experience in turning failing businesses around, and I can be an integral part of the solution in turning our state around."
Serving in the state Senate since 2004, Heath currently is the chairman of the Retirement Committee, vice chairman of the Science and Technology Committee, and a member of the Finance Committee, Governmental Oversight Committee, Appropriations Committee, Transportation Committee and the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee. He also is serving on various subcommittees within the Appropriations Committee. He is a member of the Agriculture Subcommittee and Community Health Subcommittee and vice chairman of the Natural Resources Subcommittee.
Gov. Sonny Perdue appointed Heath as the Senate's administration floor leader and to the MARTA Oversight Committee in 2006 and 2007, respectively. His website, www.billheath.net, also states he is for limited taxation, with the state government operating within its means and not raising taxes; supports Second and 10th Amendment rights and believes "no tax dollars should be expended on [illegal immigrants] whether it is local, state or federal dollars."
"This is no time to gamble with leadership," Heath said. "I have a proven conservative voting record. I have worked with the others in both the Governor's Office and the legislature to balance the budget and resist tax increases. I have started and ran several successful businesses and have never had one fail. I have successfully raised a family and remain married -- 28 years so far -- to my first wife.
"The citizens of Senate District 31 deserve to be represented by one who has always paid his taxes on time and complied with the ethics laws of this state. ... I have a consistent record of opposing tax increases. I have received the highest ratings from the NRA and GeorgiaCarry.Org supports me. The National Federation of Independent Business has endorsed me. Georgia Right to Life has endorsed me. My family members and me are active members of the First Baptist Church of Bremen. Other than the time I spent at Southern Tech earning my bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering Technology I have lived in this district since 1969."
For more information on the District 31 candidates, visit www.bennett4senate.us or www.billheath.net.