Senate race pits Balfour against Lawrenceville attorney

LAWRENCEVILLE -- The race for Georgia State Senate District 9 pits a seasoned Gold Dome veteran against an energetic newcomer with an eye on ethics reform.

District 9 covers a swath of Gwinnett from the Mountain Park area to Lawrenceville and through Dacula.

In that district, incumbent Don Balfour (R-Snellville) has served since 1992, making him the longest-serving Republican in the Senate.

Balfour, 55, could not be reached for comment this week. On his campaign website, Balfour extols his conservative values.

Balfour stresses his work to protect Second Amendment rights, discourage illegal immigration, freeze property taxes, restrict the use of eminent domain, and support pro-life measures. He is also pushing for stronger ethics laws, the site states.

Balfour is Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, serves on the Appropriations Committee, Education Committee and the Health and Human Services Committee. His education includes a bachelor's degree in accounting from Bob Jones University, and a master's of business administration from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

The businessman and his wife, Ginny, have one son.

Lawrenceville attorney Scott Drake, Balfour's democratic challenger, may be new to political arenas, but he says Balfour's actions in office have provided motivation to champion ethics reform in the State House.

Balfour is under criminal investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for allegedly filing false expense account reports. He has called the matter an "inadvertent mistake."

"(Balfour) is the personification of everything wrong with the General Assembly," said Drake, 50. "He lost his moral compass long ago, as evidenced by his remarks indicating he has been doing business the same way for 20 years.

"I believe we should return to a 'citizen' legislature, where legislators seek to serve the public, rather than personally benefit from their position," he said.

If elected, Drake vows to sponsor bills to ban legislators from accepting gifts from lobbyists, "so that legislators are held accountable to the voters," he said.

Drake holds a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Georgia and a law degree from Georgia State University. He has practiced law in Gwinnett as a prosecutor and defense attorney since 1993.

Drake and his wife, Tracy, have three children, ages 14, 12 and 6.

Candidate bios and questions

Don Balfour (i)

Party: Republican

Age: 55

Education: Bob Jones University, bachelor’s degree in accounting; Fairleigh Dickinson University, master’s of business administration

Occupation: Businessman

Political Experience: State Senate since 1992

Family: Wife, Ginny; one son

What is your political philosophy, and how will it drive your role in office?

Balfour could not be reached for comment. On his campaign website, he extols his conservative values.

Name your top goal or issue you want to tackle.

Balfour’s website stresses his work to protect Second Amendment rights, strengthen efforts to discourage illegal immigration, freeze property taxes, restrict the use of eminent domain, in addition to his work on pro-life measures. He is also pushing for stronger ethics laws, the site states.

What sets you apart from your competitors?

Balfour is the longest serving Republican in the State Senate. He is Chairman of the powerful Senate Rules Committee, serves on the Appropriations Committee, Education Committee and the Health and Human Services Committee.


Scott Drake

Party: Democrat

Age: 50

Education: Bachelor’s degree in economics, University of Georgia; law degree, Georgia State University

Occupation: Lawyer

Political Experience: None

Family: Wife, Tracy; three children, Taylor, 14, Robbie, 12, and Marley, 6

What is your political philosophy, and how will it drive your role in office?

I believe that we should be held to the highest ethical standards in order to maintain the integrity of the political process. To that end, legislators should not accept gifts from lobbyists. I will sponsor legislation to ban legislators from accepting gifts from lobbyists so that legislators are held accountable to the voters.

Name your top goal or issue you want to tackle.

My primary goal is to restore ethics in the General Assembly and sponsor legislation banning gifts from lobbyists. Mr. Balfour has repeatedly violated the ethical canons of the legislature, while enriching himself at public expense.

What sets you apart from your competitor?

(Balfour) is the personification of everything wrong with the General Assembly. He lost his moral compass long ago, as evidenced by his remarks indicating he has been doing business the same way for 20 years. I believe we should return to a “citizen” legislature, where legislators seek to serve the public, rather than personally benefit from their position.

Comments

Karl says...

As a fiscal conservative, I ask that the voters look beyond the party affiliation in this race. Balfour is a pox on our legislature. Look at the headline of one of the articles in the "More like this story" section at the end of this article (just above). It says, "Balfour to pay $5,000 to settle ethics case".

Balfour is the poster boy for corruption in our legislature. It's time to turn him out.

Posted 1 November 2012, 6:53 a.m. Suggest removal

Coolray says...

Dream on! Shirley is singing and she say "Corruption Lives Here."

Gwinnett is greedy!

Posted 1 November 2012, 6:56 p.m. Suggest removal

Aljihou says...

Balfour is also one of the major reasons we have seen an increase in our utility bills of 25% over the last four years. Balfour was a major advocate of the approval to have rate payers pay for the new reactors at Plant Vogtle and has been all over the state at the behest of the utilities to support that decision. Since rate payers, instead of what normally happens in business which is the shareholders pay, shouldered the costs there have been budget over runs at the construction site and they aren't anywhere near finished. Instead of the utilities bearing the brunt of the mismanagement of costs, they came back and asked for even more money. If Balfour had been representing voters to begin with, we would not be saddled with this massive amount burden during such an economically tough time.

Posted 1 November 2012, 9:53 a.m. Suggest removal

snellvillemike says...

I am a loyal Republican and have voted for Mr. Drake. He is honorable. Senator Balfour has disgraced the Republican Party with his corruption and deserves what he may bring uppon his character and family. The trust that Senator Balfour had from the citizens have been denigrated by him. He is not fit for office and if he had any decency, he would relinquish his duties. He will feed at the trough again if he is reelected.

Posted 1 November 2012, 7:08 p.m. Suggest removal