Secretary of State visits Valdosta: Kemp talks business deregulation, rural internet, sanctuary cities

Derrek Vaughn | The Valdosta Daily TimesSecretary of State Brian Kemp is running for Georgia governor.

VALDOSTA — Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp said he and the President share a large commonality, namely they both are focused on fighting for the “everyday Georgians” who have felt largely forgotten by politicians in recent years.

“I think (Donald Trump) struck a chord with working Georgians and with small business people that are literally … just fed up with government. They are ready for somebody to fight for them. I’m going to … be leading that fight,” Kemp said Tuesday when he stopped by Valdosta as part of a whirlwind tour of southwest Georgia, the latest move in his campaign for governor.

Kemp’s “fight” as governor would include ending over-regulation for small businesses, he said. Kemp himself has been a small business owner for 30 years, and he wants to eliminate government red tape that he said hampers healthy competition and harms economic development across the state.

“That’s not saying we don’t need to regulate. We certainly need to. We just don’t need to over-regulate and create more hurdles, especially for working Georgians,” said Kemp, who served four years as a state senator before becoming secretary of state seven years ago.

Another large part of his gubernatorial vision is bringing more opportunities to rural Georgia, specifically through increased Internet access. And not just any type of Internet, Kemp said.

He wants to give rural Georgia the best and fastest Internet.

“If we’re going to do this, we need to go big, we need to go bold. (Internet) is the next interstate, if you will. It’s the next rail line,” Kemp said.

“That will open a lot of doors to a lot of problems in rural Georgia, like getting better paying jobs (and) more opportunities where people’s children can actually stay in their local community versus having to leave to go find a good paying job.”

Giving farmers access to the latest tech in agriculture is also on his list. Kemp wants to automate and mechanize the agricultural industry even more and make the state “a leader in the world in ag technology,” he said.

Like Trump, Kemp has taken a hard-line stance against illegal immigration.

But many farmers in Georgia have said they need undocumented workers to fill the jobs that no one else wants, and they’re worried massive deportation would cause a crash in the farming industry.

Kemp said he understands the needs of farmers and that his main frustration is not with field workers but rather the illegals flocking to sanctuary cities.

“There’s no question that we need those workers (in the fields). My frustration is … when you have cities that invite people that are here illegally to come to their cities and get benefits that Georgia taxpayers and hardworking Georgians are paying for,” Kemp said.

“I don’t think people are frustrated at somebody that’s out there at Coggins Farms picking sweet carrots. People are frustrated at the person that shows up in the hospital that’s here illegally, that doesn’t pay a dime, and they have a child that’s born here and (it) doesn’t cost them a dime, and then now that child is a citizen.

“That’s really where our campaign is talking about putting Georgians first, not those that are here illegally.”

Ultimately, Kemp describes himself as a candidate who resonates with the ordinary Georgian, the rural Georgian. He said he is “one of them,” an experienced politician with a “private-sector mentality” who will fight for the little guy.

“That’s who I’m going to be, and I have that track record of doing that,” he said.

Georgia voters will choose their next governor in November 2018.

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