RINCON — With conflict seemingly raging at every turn, Georgia Senate District 4 candidate Billy Hickman has an unusual view.
“I don’t look for problems. I look opportunities,” he said.
A Statesboro CPA, Hickman is enjoying discussing “opportunities” with voters who are set to go to the polls for an Aug. 11 Republican runoff that includes Dr. Scott Bohlke. The winner is assured of the post because there is no Democrat to face in November.
“I am honestly having the time of my life,” Hickman said. “I am having so much fun.”
Hickman said he wants to serve District 4 the way Sen. Jack Hill did before he died April 6. Hill, a Reidsville resident who held the seat for more than three decades, was famous for being highly visible and helpful to his constituents.
“That’s the kind of thing I am excited about,” Hickman said. “I think I can really make a difference.”
Out of respect for the COVID-19, Hickman hasn’t done any door-to-door campaigning. He has spent lots of time chatting with potential constituents on the phone. His number (912-682-5819) is listed on his campaign materials.
“And I’ve had some very successful meet-and-greets,” Hickman said. “In fact, last week alone we had four (including one at Springfield’s The Local on Laurel).”
In recent days, Hickman has voiced vigorous support for law enforcement officers, who are under attack in several major cities across the nation.
“First of all, I don’t think we can defund the police departments,” he said. “If anything, our police departments need more money. Our police departments need more training in how to handle (stressful) situations.
“It doesn’t matter if you are a deputy in the jail or you ride the roads with the state patrol, you are under a lot of stress.”
Hickman thinks officers should undergo psychological exams every few years to make sure that they have the mentality to do their job correctly.
“Every organizations has bad apples,” he said. “You’ve got them in the newspaper business and we’ve got them in the accounting business, and you have them in the medical profession. ... I just believe more training and some kind of (periodic) exam would help eliminate some of them.”
Hickman thinks a higher pay floor for officers would be beneficial to them and the citizenry. He surmised that better pay would likely reduce police corruption and cut the need for some of them to work multiple jobs.
“We’ve got police officers on food stamps,” he said. “That is a disgrace.”
Another issue that has moved to the forefront recently is COVID-19’s impact on schools, which are set to open next month despite a rising number of cases statewide.
“We’ve got to get our children back to school,” Hickman said. “If we don’t get them back in school, we could possibly lose a year of their learning life. You don’t ever get that back.”
Hickman noted that the Georgia Board of Education considered a resolution calling for Sept. 8 to be the startwide start date. It took no action, however, a decision that Hickman approves.
“Personally, I think that should be a local decision,” he said.
Hickman can see both sides of the mask issue. Several cities, including Atlanta, Savannah and Guyon, are requiring mask use in violation of an executive order by Gov. Brian Kemp.
“When I’m out and about, I have used a mask,” said Hickman, who distributes masks emblazoned with his name during campaign stops. “I just don’t know enough about it to say if it needs to be mandated.”
Hickman left no doubt about his stance on abortion. Certified by the Georgia Life Alliance, he vowed to fight for life every step of the way.
The candidate has also promised to back businesses and support measures that will foster job growth.
“The coronavirus is big, but the biggest thing is our economy,” he said. “We’ve go to get our businesses open.”
Lower state tax revenue results in having to take funds from schools and vital services, he warned.
“I’m really concerned about poverty in the district,” he added. “... We’ve got high poverty and low per capita income.”