Four candidates vie for Georgia's 11th Congressional District
by Jason Lowrey
Jul 15, 2012 | 3211 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
By Jason Lowrey

Staff Writer

Republicans William Llop and Michael Opitz and Democrat Patrick Thompson are running against incumbent Republican Phil Gingrey to represent Georgia's 11th Congressional District. The district encompasses all of Bartow, Floyd, Polk, Paulding, Haralson and Chattooga counties and portions of Carroll, Cobb and Gordon counties. Whoever is elected will represent the district for two years in the House of Representatives.

Name: Rep. Phil Gingrey, M.D.

Occupation: OB/GYN

Family: Billie, wife of 42 years; four grown children; 11 grandchildren with twins on the way

Education: Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Georgia Institute of Technology; Medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia

Age: 70

Why did you decide to run for this particular race?

A: I'm running for reelection to further advance the conservative principles and values held by the voters in the 11th Congressional District. To that end, this year the National Journal rated me the Most Conservative Member of Congress.

If elected, what do you want to accomplish?

A: Being a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee -- which has jurisdiction over health care -- a physician, and the Chairman of the GOP Doctor's Caucus has allowed me to be on the front lines of the effort to repeal and replace the President's health care law, which is all the more important in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling on Obamacare. This committee also allows me to work towards developing an all-of-the-above energy strategy to achieve energy independence.

I will continue fighting to protect our Second Amendment rights and work for passage of H.R. 126, The Fairness in Firearms Testing Act. I will also keep working to secure our borders and protect our taxpayers' and American jobs by advocating for the passage of H.R. 692, the Nuclear Family Protection Act, and H.R. 693, the E-Verify Modernization Act.

Finally, I will continue supporting drastically cutting and capping federal spending and the enactment of a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

What is the most pressing issue facing District 11?

A: Jobs, the economy and spending are the most important issues facing the 11th District, and they are all directly related. We must repeal President Obama's health care law or risk losing some 5.5 million jobs. In order to stimulate the economy and foster job growth, I will work to stop the looming tax hikes and do away with bureaucratic red tape that hinders the ability of our nation's job creators -- small businesses -- to expand their payrolls and add employees.

I've fought for the highly-skilled manufacturing jobs tied to the production of critical national security platforms like the F-22 and Joint Strike Fighter in Marietta. I will continue pushing for projects like the Keystone XL Pipeline and the deepening of the Port of Savannah to put manufacturers back to work immediately. Collectively, these infrastructure projects ultimately represent hundreds of thousands of jobs.

The expansion of the Savannah harbor is the most important economic development issue in Georgia. The potential deepening has attracted companies like Caterpillar, Kia Motors, JCB, and John Deere to open new operations or expand existing facilities.

Finally, I will continue to support reducing regulations for job creators, lowering the corporate tax rate, mitigating union influence, and altering economic policies. These steps will put the 11th District and Americans back to work and companies back in business.

Once in office, what will be your top priority?

A: Repealing Obamacare, which will protect jobs and prevent the largest tax increase in the history of our country from going into effect, foster job creation, and improve our economy is of paramount importance. To foster job creation, House Republicans have passed 30 jobs bills that continue to stack up in the Senate. I will continue working to reduce taxes and prevent government intrusion into citizens' lives.

Why are you best candidate for this position?

A: As we work to repeal and replace Obamacare, my 31 years of experience as a physician makes me uniquely qualified to help reform our health care system without Washington bureaucrats taking over one-sixth the economy. As a health care provider, I was also a small business owner, and I understand how tax hikes and government regulations can stifle growth. Providing relief for the backbone of our economic engine is critically important.

I share the 11th District voters' commitment to conservatism and wholeheartedly believe that less government -- not more -- is the answer to the major issues facing the U.S today. I will continue to represent the values held dear by the constituents of the 11th District.

Name: William Llop

Occupation: Certified Public Accountant

Family: Married -- two young children

Education: Bachelor of Business Administration -- Mercer University

Age: 53

Why did you decide to run for this particular race?

A: As a CPA, I have extensive experience with our labyrinthine, at times incomprehensible, tax code. I'm running for Congress because as a small business owner, I don't have time to be a career politician and begin with a city council position then win over enough voters to run for a national office. My experience with the tax code makes me a valuable voice in a Congress overrun with lawyers and doctors. Someone up there has to have a clue as to how this tax code actually affects individuals and small businesses, and I have some good ideas on how to produce tax reform. I'm running for Congress because as a country we're running out of time and we need fresh ideas, not just legislation written by big business lobbyists for big business favoritism.

If elected, what do you want to accomplish?

A: Create jobs by growing our economy. And we can grow jobs if we streamline the income tax system. Simple changes on how and when we recognize deductions on our income tax returns will allow us to keep more of our money in our pockets. This boosts discretionary spending, which increases the need for more jobs in the manufacturing and service sectors. Recognizing deductions by: relaxing the passive activity loss rules; allowing more depreciation expense sooner; without limitations and phase outs. In other words, we get to keep more of our money sooner.

American business is slowing to a crawl and our tax code is the noose around its neck. This country used to be number one in the world for innovation. Now we are the number one country in the world for tax. Reducing the corporate income tax rate from 39 percent to 25 percent will increase jobs in our country by international investment. The innovators who are moving operations offshore will return since they are no longer being penalized for being successful. And future innovators will remain here instead of taking their products and services to Asia. Finally by streamlining the tax code, we will reduce the wasted hours and manpower needed to comply with these regulations and increase profits on the bottom line.

What is the most pressing issue facing District 11?

A: The economy and jobs. These issues are intertwined. By streamlining our tax code, we promote growth and investment in our economy, enabling small- and medium-sized businesses to prosper and rise above the flood of new regulation and impending tax increases and grow new jobs along the way. Big businesses have their voices in Washington. Small- to medium-sized businesses need a voice too. I want to be that voice. Innovation needs tax reform to grow, but it also needs the nourishment of an educated youth. Currently our education system is not only failing our children, it is costing our citizens more per capita than any other country. We need to not only streamline our tax code, we need to streamline our educational system as well and ready our youth for a technological 21st century, the new American century.

Once in office, what will your top priority be?

A: Growing the economy to grow more jobs. I will work with other legislators to sponsor a bill that immediately makes changes to the tax code that benefit individuals and small businesses. Streamlining taxes means helping reduce unnecessary taxes -- even those that are referred to in the press as a mandate. I think there are many in Congress who are unhappy with the President's Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare). I want to work with these critics -- both Democrat and Republican -- to repeal this law and sponsor free market solutions to streamline and revitalize our entitlements that left unchecked, will soon drive our nation to insolvency.

Why are you the best candidate for the position?

A: Day-in and day-out for almost 30 years I have advised and consulted small- to medium-sized businesses, as well as consulted and advised individuals on how to be fiscally responsible. I have a complete understanding of how decisions in Washington affect the everyday American. I am number four of 11 siblings. I learned at a young age how to be heard and how to negotiate settlements. I bring fresh ideas.

Name: Michael Opitz

Occupation: I am retired from Lucent Technologies/AT&T and am currently a mediator/arbitrator and principal at Turning Points Mediation. www.TPMediation.com.

Family: I have been married to Becky Mills Opitz for 33 years. We have three children: Kristin, Brandon, and Bradley. Becky and I live in Marietta where we've resided for approximately 29 years.

Education: B.A., English Literature, Auburn University, 1969; M.A., Psychology with emphasis in Organization Development, University of West Georgia, 1980.

Age: 66

Why did you decide to run for this particular race?

A: I am motivated to run for Congress because Congress needs help: (a) improving its compliance with the principles of the U.S. Constitution; (b) developing legislation to induce manufacturing activity in the U.S. and, (c) revamping our tax code along the lines of the F.A.I.R. Tax.

I will bring a new voice to Congress and push hard to seriously address our nation's problems and work to provide good solutions for Georgia and the 11th District.

If elected, what do you want to accomplish?

A: Our nation is in serious trouble due to the lack of job creation. We need to bring manufacturing back from China and Third World countries by changing the laws that have forced American companies to move offshore. We can bring back American manufacturing, which is the source of good paying blue collar and white collar jobs by eliminating job killing EPA rules and other job-killing regulations.

We need to drastically reduce government spending, balance the budget and reduce taxes. We should reduce government spending by one percent per year until we are stabilized.

I will earnestly resist any legislative proposals that are not clearly in compliance with the Constitution of the United States of America.

What is the most pressing issue facing District 11?

A: Unemployment is the biggest issue facing the 11th District. Congress has created laws and has allowed federal agencies such as the EPA to impose regulations that have encouraged many American manufacturing companies to leave the U.S.

We need to roll back all bureaucratic regulations to 2007, effectively creating a restart point for a thorough congressional review of all laws and regulations that have an impact on employment. We then need to review each regulation and repeal those that inhibit job growth.

I will work with local and state governments to ensure that all are eliminating taxes and regulations to get government out of the way of job creation.

Once in office, what will be your top priority?

A: My goal is to bring manufacturing jobs back from China and other Third World countires before we become one. I will be a loud voice and strong vote in Washington to change the laws that will enable us to bring manufacturing to the 11th District and grow jobs.

Why are you best candidate for this position?

A: I have my M.A. degree in Psychology with emphasis in Organization Development. I am a Georgia registered mediator and arbitrator. I fully understand that one does not compromise their principles just to reach agreement, but listens to the different points of view and builds bridges to find a best solution to any given dispute. This approach is lacking in Washington.

I am a "Constitutional Conservative" who will speak strongly for the citizens of the 11th District, while adhering to constitutional principles.

I am retired from Lucent Technologies and AT&T where I served in AT&T Manufacturing Systems, commercializing technology from Bell Labs for application to manufacturing and distribution enterprises. I understand manufacturing, and my goal is to bring manufacturing jobs back from China and other Third World Countries before we become one.I will be a loud voice and strong vote in Washington to change the laws that will enable us to bring manufacturing jobs to the 11th District.

Name: Patrick Thompson

Occupation: Business Management and Owner

Family: Wife, Lorraine; two sons, Sean & Ryan

Education: B.S., Biology and Psychology, Mary Washington University; Computer Science Degree; M.B.A. in Sustainability ongoing

Age: 55

Why did you decide to run for this particular race?

A: Like many others in this country, I didn't feel like we the people are being represented, no one is listening and we have no choice. With lobbyists, money, media and partisanship dictating -- but not getting -- the work of the people done, I believe it's past time to get to work and to help citizens find solutions. I'm the average American citizen who is frustrated with their representation, the lack of progress on critical issues and the opaque influence from large amounts of unlimited and untraceable money running our political system. This stagnant environment is blocking our recovery as a nation. I squarely place the blame for lack of progress on our Congress -- this complacency has driven me to bring true leadership back to the people of this great country.

If elected, what do you want to accomplish?

A: A focus on sustainable job growth, quality education, infrastructure, and an energy/resource plan. Improve the economy by ending outsourcing and offshoring of American jobs, increase the availability and accessibility of workforce training, create a fair trade environment that encourages the return of American manufacturing, honor our commitment to veterans and prevent banks from taking risky investments with our deposits. Restore the budgetary priority for education, hire or retain top professionals, document and share best practices, require less emphasis on testing with more local control. I also want America to take leadership on the convergence of renewable electricity, energy efficiency and smart grid technology toward the support of job creation, energy security and stronger natural resource management. Conclude wars and perform nation building at home, seeding our own infrastructure repair and growth, strengthening and stabilizing our neighborhoods. Return to ethical leadership that prioritizes a responsible budget to reflect the needs of the taxpayer.

What is the most pressing issue facing District 11?

A: Job availability and career sustainability.

Once in office, what will be your top priority?

A: Create a policy atmosphere that supports getting more people back to work and increases the economic certainty for workers so that the dignity of work returns to our workforce and the demand for goods returns to our economy. Put American economic patriotism into practice by shifting taxpayer investments from corporate welfare, wars, oil and gas subsidies, Wall Street back to Main Street, education and infrastructure.

Why are you best candidate for this position?

A: Background and motivation to work for the people. I've labored as a professional educator, government employee, technology worker, business manager and small company entrepreneur with the common theme of being known for problem solving. I'm not a professional politician but have been a long-time community servant. I've studied and practiced the efficiencies and balance of establishing and running businesses that can be put to work in government, but understand that the government is not a business.

Working for the citizen is a tenet I want to bring back to public leadership. Like many Americans in the 11th District, I've had my job outsourced to other countries, seen neighbors lose houses, our area lose businesses, been without health insurance, had my legislators work on irrelevant and invasive issues, watched my tax dollars spent tearing up and repairing other countries, lost home and retirement investment value, witnessed my cars getting beat up on poor roadways, had credit card rates triple, experienced a TARPed mega-bank buy up all my accounts, paid education loans to private pirates -- there is no one working or lobbying for the American worker.

Certification and practice in areas like government contracting, supply chain management, sustainability, communications, six sigma and consultative sales has provided great experience to put to use toward the challenges we have in the country today.

Having been a public school educator who started a computer science career under the tutelage of Ross Perot and having worked with the Reagan White House, the H.W. Bush transition office, and the Clinton Re-Inventing Government effort have provided me with a unique insight into how political leadership and teamwork can set examples and make good things happen. Developing policy that respects priorities, budgets, human conditions and impact requires a type of balance as opposed to a simple accounting exercise or allegiance to dogma/party rhetoric. I've been practicing this balance in both business and government for over three decades and want to bring that civility and focus to policy-making. I'm an average citizen who wants to help bring ethical, representative democracy back to our lawmaking and enforcement in the face of the largest economic imbalance since the Great Depression.