Like the Golden Isles’s two state House of Representatives districts, the state Senate district — District 3, to be specific — is one that only drew two candidates this year. Those would the the Republican incumbent, Sen. William Ligon of White Oak, and his Democratic opponent, Jerrold Dagen of St. Simons Island.
Neither, of course, face primary opposition.
Dagen, like the Democrats in the House districts, faces an upward battle electorally. No Democrat filed to challenge Ligon in the last three elections, and the last time Ligon faced general election opposition, he won by 42 percentage points in 2010.
Dagen said one of the reasons he decided to get in the race is that the people of District 3 need “someone who will put the people above party politics and extreme agendas. We have faced the same problems for far too long, and I think a new representative with new ideas and a fresh perspective can help.”
As a legislator, Dagen said his focus will be on education, the economy, the environment and voting rights.
“Our education was underfunded for years, and recently they claim to have fully funded it,” Dagen said. “What about the damage of years of underfunding? How we will we account for that? We need to make sure our teachers are getting what they need and our students are provided for, then education will be fully funded.”
He added that the economy is not working for everyone, especially with significant rates of poverty throughout the district.
“State legislators have been handing out tax breaks to corporations instead of using that money to invest in the people of Georgia, something that could help those still facing hard times in a good economy,” Dagen said. “We need to do what we can to give people a hand up, not a hand out, to ensure all Georgians have a chance at success.”
Meanwhile, Ligon noted among his accomplishments in the General Assembly in the past session, generating technical college and library funding, along with work secured for the Noyes Cut.
“This year, we obtained $17 million in bonds to construct the new technical college campus in Camden County,” Ligon said. “I obtained $2 million for the public library’s redesign in Glynn County. I have worked to consistently secure funding of $100,000 each year for the past several years to develop the Coastal Greenway.
“By using this money as seed money for competitive grants, we have been able to leverage it into about $2 million a year for development of the Greenway. I obtained funding for the feasibility study for the closure of Noyes Cut. Once Noyes Cut is closed, this will greatly improve the river and marsh habitat and fisheries bordering Glynn and Camden counties.
“This year, I was able to vote for a budget that fully funded the (quality basic education mandate) for K-12. I also supported legislation that will lower Georgia’s income tax rate to 5.75 percent, beginning in 2019. Serving on the Appropriations Committee has allowed me to influence funding decisions which have benefitted the Third District and our state.”
Ligon reiterated that he would be backing a new adoption bill if reelected.
“For example, I hope to pass legislation protecting the religious liberty of faith-based adoption agencies and other faith-based organizations from frivolous lawsuits and from any state policies which discriminate against them for simply running their organizations according to their sincerely-held religious beliefs,” Ligon said.
He was at work in the last session developing further legislative oversight on state bureaucracy, and said he would like to advance that further.
“I would like to address the vast powers of the executive branch so that the legislature has more authority over its actions, such as its unilateral ability to obligate our state to federal grants,” Ligon said. “The legislature also needs subpoena power over executive branch bureaucrats so that we can get to the truth of a situation quickly.”
Along with that, Ligon presently has a Senate study committee looking at prescription patterns for antidepressants and whether the state needs to institute more safeguards.
Primary elections are scheduled for May 22 and the general election is set for Nov. 6.