State House District 141 candidates field questions, debate

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MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Four Republicans, all vying for Georgia’s House Seat 141 spoke directly to voters about several issues Thursday night, ranging from taxes to medical marijuana.

The candidates on the ballot in the May 22 election to replace former Rep. Allen Peake are Dale Washburn, Shane Mobley, Gary Bechtel, and Todd Tolbert. The district covers much of Macon-Bibb and the southern part of Monroe County.

All candidates agree it’s governments job not to raise taxes, but instead lower them. Washburn, a real estate agent, and Mobley, a health care provider, told the crowd the Macon-Bibb County Commission is letting them down, pointing to the commission’s projected deficit of $10 million.

“Our future is not good in Bibb county for taxation,” Washburn said.

“I’m tired of every time the leadership in Bibb County decides to spend money on frivolous things they expect for you and me to pick up the bill,” Mobley said.

Bechtel, a former Macon-Bibb commissioner, shot back with optimism at the county’s future.

“I’m proud to be here, Amazon is proud to be here, Irving is proud to be here,” Bechtel said.

As for the Other Local Option Sales Tax (OLOST), Washburn rejected the idea of higher taxes, but didn’t dictate an outright position on it, nor did Bechtel and Tolbert. Mobley said he wouldn’t support any tax increases. Tolbert predicts the OLOST will fail and encouraged the crowd to elect someone locally with a ‘Plan B.’

Other topics up for debate included school safety, with none of the candidates outright supporting arming teachers, but instead proposing school’s do a better job of securing the perimeter. Mobley advocated for better mental health services for students.

The moderator, Jason Downey, wrapped the debate asking for the candidate’s position on medical marijuana, something Peake championed during his time at the capitol. Each candidate supports the idea of medical marijuana, but some have reservations about its compliance with federal law. Tolbert says he’d be willing to carry the torch in place of Peake.

“I will put medical marijuana in the pharmacies no matter what level of government I have to go through,” Tolbert said.

Election day for the District 141 race is May 22. If there is a runoff, it’ll be June 24.