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PULSE OF THE VOTERS: Taxes, veterans issues among concerns locally

Moultrie Observer - 1/14/2024

Jan. 14—MOULTRIE — The candidates for this year's presidential election have definitely taken center stage but have the actual issues voters care about been left backstage in the dark?

Colquitt County residents were asked what they thought about how issues facing Americans were being addressed by the presidential candidates for the upcoming election and what issues were the most important to them.

Marla Hamilton, 37, a small business owner in Moultrie, said from talking to people she knows, some folks are choosing candidates based on factors that don't matter as much as the issues at hand in the community and the country.

"Instead, they're basing it off of unimportant factors," she said.

While Hamilton said she leans more toward the Republican Party, she said she hasn't watched a lot of the presidential debates for the upcoming election.

"I haven't watched them strictly because I feel like they've become a circus show of who can over-talk, who can be the loudest, who can be interruptive to get their point across. ... It's not worth it," she said.

Hamilton said that she would start paying more attention to the candidates the closer that it gets to the election.

As to whether she'd vote or not, though, Hamilton was emphatic.

"Yes, I always vote no matter what the election. ... I feel like, if you don't vote, you don't get to complain," she said.

When asked what issues she cared the most about and would like addressed by the presidential candidates, Hamilton said that one of the things that she would like to see addressed is taxes.

"Taxes are killing us. Between inflation, right now, and the taxes that we have to pay, it's eating us alive," she said. "As a small business owner, taxes kill us. People don't realize. Yes, we have the luxury of having our own small business but we also fee like we're penalized for having our own small business."

She said that, as a small business, she was taxed 33% automatically right off the top regardless of what kind of supplies she had to buy for her business or whether her husband was working or not.

"This is not an option. Unless you're making above a 100 grand a year, there's no getting around that," she said.

Meanwhile, she's concerned about the way her federal tax dollars are allocated.

"We are hemorrhaging money from this country and I feel like, as much taxes as we have to pay as individuals and as businesses, that is utterly ridiculous. We're being taxed upon, taxed upon, taxed upon, taxed upon and we still can't meet the needs of our nation. That makes no sense whatsoever. None!" she said, emphatically.

Hamilton also said that she thought that it would be nice to have some kind of relief, even short-term, until the economy gets back to where it needs to be.

"Obviously, you don't want the economy to crash but something's gonna have to happen in order for us to reset, which is what we need," she said.

Immigration was another issue that was important to Hamilton because she felt that, the United States should help its own before extending funds out to other people for immigration purposes.

"I'm not against immigration. I feel like everybody deserves a chance at a better life. I do understand that a lot of people aren't born into the luxuries that the United States has and that they should be available to them, to an extent. ... But I also, personally, know that we have veterans and homeless people that are not being taken care of and that's an issue for me," she said.

She said that people would be floored at the things she's heard about how hard it is for veterans to get the help they need when they're back in civilian life and she knew that the homeless population in Moultrie had risen in the past six months alone.

"And it's hard on the community," she said.

She said a presidential candidate should be able to at least put a big dent in the homeless and veteran problems.

"We need to make sure that the people who gave us our freedoms are taken care of before the people who are taking advantage of our freedoms are taken care of," Hamilton said.

Amzie Cooper, 48, of Hartsfield, said, since she has two sons in the military, supporting the military was her biggest issue that she wanted to see candidates address. She also remarked, "It was funny how you never thought much about an issue until it directly affected you."

"The military doesn't get paid enough and there should be more support for them and their families," she said.

She also said that she was concerned with the veterans who are not able to access their benefits or have a hard time getting their benefits. She said that it seemed like, when they came back from war, they didn't get the support that they needed.

"If you want people to join the military, you need to let them see that they are taken care of after they get out of the military," she said.

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