About 60 people listened for an hour tonight as candidates Dan Matthews and Chuck Williams, seeking to represent Oconee County and parts of three neighboring counties in the Georgia House of Representatives, answered questions on a variety of issues tossed at them by moderator Tim Bryant.
Most of the questions had been covered in previous meetings of the two candidates, but a few were new and some had slightly different angles.
Williams, former president of North Georgia Bank, which failed earlier this year, said in response to the first question posed to him by Bryant that he “accepted responsibility for everything that occurred at the bank.”
But he said the bank failed because it was tied to the local residential building industry, and other banks in similar communities also failed.
Matthews responded that Oconee State Bank, in the same market, had not failed and that North Georgia Bank had been warned by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation of problems before the failure.
Matthews was asked to defend comments he has made on his political blog, where, according to the questioner, he often “is an outspoken critic” of those who don’t share his view.
The questioner said Matthews “crossed the line” in writing about the late Congressman Charles Norwood.
Matthews said he didn’t remember the comment but would look for it on his blog. Williams said he had a lot of respect for Norwood.
Williams was asked to explain the circumstances surrounding sale of family property in Watkinsville to the Oconee County Board of Education.
Williams said it was a simple transaction that involved no special favors. Matthews congratulated Williams on the profit he had made on the sale.
Matthews and Williams are the survivors of the June 21 special election called to replace Hank Huckaby, who resigned as representative to assume the position of chancellor of the University System of Georgia.
The two were the top voters getters in the field of four candidates in that race. Since no candidate got a majority of the votes cast, voters are being asked to return to the polls to select between them.
Matthews is running as a Democrat, while Williams is running as a Republican.
The district, made up of all of Oconee County and parts of Clarke, Morgan and Oglethorpe counties, has a record of electing Republican candidates.
The forum tonight was sponsored by the Oconee County Chamber of Commerce.
Bryant, a newsman for 1340 WGAU and FM 103.7, was asked by the Chamber to select from questions posed in advance from the audience and to him via email prior to the program.
Bryant began the session saying he had more questions than the candidates would have time to answer in the one hour allowed for the event.
The forum was broadcast live of WGAU and FM 103.7.
The full video of the forum is below: