Opinion: Brian Kemp’s vision, roadmap for Georgia

Serving in public office was never part of some grand plan. My wife Marty will tell you that running for governor was never mentioned in marriage vows, either.

But as a small business guy from Athens, I grew frustrated with big government regulations, paperwork, and high taxes. Some days I spent more time at City Hall than at the job site. I had to do something about it.

I ran for the State Senate against an entrenched incumbent. No one thought I could win. But I looked voters in the eye and promised to do the right thing – even when no one was looking. Thanks to a diverse coalition of supporters, we won and I fought at the State Capitol to deliver tangible results for the families, communities, and businesses in my district. I did exactly what I said I would do.

After two terms, I left public life to raise my three daughters and build more businesses. I saw firsthand why Georgians were so frustrated with politics and the political parties. The circus in Washington fueled me to run for Secretary of State. I was ready to shake things up in state government.

For eight years, I used my experience as a small business owner and entrepreneur to streamline operations in the Secretary of State’s office. We cut our budget 25 percent and used technology to improve customer service. We enhanced cybersecurity and implemented private-sector solutions to solve government problems. We kept Georgia’s elections secure, accessible, and fair.

While I’m proud of what we have accomplished in the Secretary of State’s office, there’s more work to be done in Georgia. I’m running for governor with a plan to put hardworking Georgians first. I’m fighting to ensure that our best days are always ahead.

As governor, I will spur job growth – in every corner of Georgia – by cutting burdensome regulations that make it difficult for local businesses to build, expand, and invest. We will add a new trophy to the mantle by becoming the top state for “small business.”

To ensure a bright and promising future for all Georgians, I will fundamentally change the way state government spends, taxes, and operates.

Graduation rates are on the rise but we need to continue investing in public education. To recruit and retain the best and brightest teachers, I proposed a $5,000 pay raise for our educators. We will protect funding for early childhood education and give local schools the resources they need to keep our classrooms safe.

While my opponent wants government-run, single-payer healthcare that will triple income taxes and ultimately bankrupt our state, I have a plan for a Patient-Centered Healthcare System that’s right for Georgia. Through re-insurance exchanges and Association Health Plans, we will lower insurance premiums and healthcare costs. We will protect rural hospitals, address the doctor shortage, and continue to cover Georgians with pre-existing conditions.

Like Gov. Nathan Deal, we will save for a rainy day, lower taxes, and put more money in the pockets of working Georgians.

When traveling the state, you see that many communities outside of Atlanta are struggling. Populations are shrinking and businesses are closing. Kids graduate and have to move away to find better opportunities.

Early in the campaign, I developed a comprehensive plan for “A New Day In Rural Georgia” that empowers the private sector to offer high-speed Internet, supports the agriculture industry, and ensures access to good schools, quality healthcare, and high paying jobs – no matter your zip code.

During his time in office, Gov. Deal championed criminal justice reform. With passion and perseverance, he reduced the prison population, slashed recidivism rates, and strengthened Georgia families.

As governor, I will carry on Deal’s legacy by focusing on public safety reform.

Georgia is a distribution hub for Mexican drug cartels – that’s not coming from me, but from federal prosecutors here in our state. They use street gangs of every color and creed to flood the streets with guns, violence, and fear. These ruthless men and women also traffic innocent children for sex. These hardened criminals prey upon our most vulnerable and they must be stopped.

Under Republican leadership, our state endured the Great Recession and emerged stronger than ever. We’ve added 750,000 jobs since 2010. Balanced the budget every year. Lowered taxes and grew the Rainy Day Fund to $2.5 billion. Georgia is the envy of the entire nation.

This election is a battle for the soul of our state. It’s a fight for our future.

My campaign is funded by hardworking Georgians who want a governor who will keep moving our state forward.

My opponent’s campaign is funded by out-of-state billionaires who want to advance an extreme agenda and take Georgia in the wrong direction.

I will be a governor who builds on the great work of Sonny Perdue and Nathan Deal to ensure that Georgia’s best days are ahead.

Above all, I will put hardworking Georgians – not the status quo or special interests – first.

Brian Kemp is Georgia’s Republican candidate for governor.