Wade, Leibel present their ideas during 9th District State House forum

News, Politics

DAHLONEGA – The candidate forum between District 9 State House candidates for the GOP nomination  between Will Wade and Steven Leibel for the most part was a respectful 60-minute presentation  of each man’s platform.

Steve Leibel

In Leibel’s 5-minute introduction, he accused Wade of raising taxes, receiving PAC funds and not supporting the senior tax exemption. “In the last forum, he said, ‘if you’re going to have an exemption, you need to make it up with some sort of sales tax revenue, and that’s going to be a heavy lift at the state legislature.’” He also said he is willing to have that fight and that conversation. I am not willing to have that fight and that conversation. I am unequivocally in favor of the senior tax exemption and I’ve been endorsed by Amos Amerson.” Amerson advocated for and was the sponsor of the Senior Homestead Exemption.

Will Wade

In his introduction, Wade said “voters reelected me several times to serve on the school board. For several years, I made motions to reduce the millage rate. During the great recession, we had a shortfall in the tax digest but the millage rate never changed and we saw a total reduction in sales revenue during that time.” He also called his opponent’s claim that he does not support the senior tax exemption an “inaccuracy and that he would defend that challenge later in the debate. He closed his introductory remarks by stating, “I have a record that is firmly conservative, firmly Republican. We don’t want any new laws and we don’t need to send another lawyer to Atlanta to represent us.”


Wade said, “I too agree that there should be term limits in the state house and state senate and even at the local level.” But Wade served four terms on the Dawson County Board of Education. He explained “I did serve four terms on the school board but I would note I had two terms in which I wasn’t even opposed.” During his final term, he said this would his last time in office. “That was far before anyone knew of the events that would occur when Doug Collins made the decision to run for the United States Senate that led to the opening of this seat.”

Leibel said, “I do thank (Wade) for agreeing that we do need term limits. My pledge is that there be no more than eight years for me to serve in the legislature. I think it’s time for people to bring new leadership. Having term limits does a number of things. No. 1 it term limits the Speaker of the House. No. 2 it removes people with a lot of power after their terms are up. It allows for greater new blood in committee assignments. We need a Constitutional amendment. I signed a pledge that I would support that and I men that.”


When moderator Robb Nicholls asked if the candidates would introduce legislation to modify the exemption, that has led to a shift of millions of dollars of lost revenue to school boards, county and city governments. Leibel strongly disagreed with the premise.

“It is not lost revenue to government,” he said. “It is not lost revenue at all. It is revenue that belongs to seniors and it is up to government to find new sources. Second, we’re not looking at how we can generate more revenue from the University which occupies so much of our land mass. The Starbucks has a dress-up boutique and other businesses, including a bookstore that is tax exempt even though it is involved in commerce. That is wrong. No, I will not introduce any change to the senior exemption. You have my word on that.”

Wade answered, “I am not for changing the senior exemption in this district period. I am not a status quo candidate. I’m going to protect seniors. I’m going to make sure their senior exemption stays in place I’m the conservative in this race. I actually want to look for ways to reduce taxes for every single homeowner.”



The candidates have two very different opinions on broadband. During the last forum, Leibel stated that broadband is a Constitutional right of children because without it children can’t get a proper education, something the Georgia Constitution requires.

Wade took exception to that, saying, “I don’t believe broadband is a right. It is a technology and that we need to empower individuals to have the opportunity to work, make an earned income and they can buy those type services. We’ve got to partner with the school systems and counties to lease some of the  and partner and actually we could offset some property taxes and offset other taxes that individuals are paying by allowing those companies to end up leasing space or leasing ground to enhance.

Leibel responded, “First of all, broadband is a constitutional right for children because without it they can’t have an adequate education. We require it under the Georgia Constitution. So we do have to provide broadband and by doing that we can help the area we live in.” He added, “In fact we haven’t looked at what is available right now. We need to incentivize companies to come in and give us broadband opportunities. The school boards can be part of that because they are a taxing authority and they have funds.”


Nichols noted that COVID-29 had sapped about $250 million from the state’s economy had he asked the candidates what role they would play in returning the state’s economy to pre-COVID-19 levels.

Leibel said, “First of all, it’s very important that we take a look at what our budget is and what we’re spending money on. “We don’t have to live beyond what we’re already getting. We have too much government right now and I’m not so sure that what we now have is beyond what we need. I think we can look at ways to generate funds and enhance revenue by out-of-the box thinking. It’s going to be difficult and I’m not saying everyone will have the answers. There are no sacred cows. We need a forensic examination of government and where we are going.”

Wade said the programs his opponent mentioned would cost money. He said he wants to have a serious conversation about property taxes vs. sales taxes.

“In Dawson County and Lumpkin County one percent sales tax generates in the neighborhood of $4 million to $6 million a year in each of the communities this district represents. That is roughly 4-5 mils. We’ve got to acknowledge that revenue from people who live elsewhere. I’m not saying we need any new sales tax. I’ve said it clearly and I’m tired of opponents mincing words and changing my message. The message is this: We need to have a serious conversation about how much we need in property tax to fund government and how much do we have in property tax.”


Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com



































The race for 9th District State Rep. has attracted six candidates


DAWSON COUNTY, Ga. – One of the most important elections that will take place May 19 is the race for 9th District State Representative. The Ninth District includes all of Lumpkin County, the majority of Dawson County and a portion of Forsyth County. Meet the candidates:

 STEVE LEIBEL                                                                                                

Steve Leibel

Steve is a successful attorney, small business owner, entrepreneur and conservative Republican who is extremely plugged into the 9th District. He was a Trump delegate at the 2016 Georgia State Convention and he has served on the boards of Foothills Community Bank, Legacy Link and the Board of Governors for the State Bar of Georgia. He is also the personal attorney for Lumpkin County Sheriff Stacy Jarrard and the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office. He has been a federal trial lawyer, municipal court judge and a peace officer. He was instrumental in helping to shut down the troubled Chestatee Hospital which is now being replaced by a new North Georgia Health System at the intersection of Ga. 400 and Hwy. 60. He is endorsed by former Dawson County Sheriff Billy Carlisle and former Dawsonville Mayor James Grogan.


Doug Sherrill

Doug is a pastor, an educator, lecturer, small business owner, surveyor and former member of the Lumpkin County Board of Commissioners who said he will bring his conservative values to the Gold Dome. He is pro-life and pro-Second Amendment Republican who will work to lower taxes and ensure economic stability. As an educator, Doug says it is important to keep government bureaucracy out of the classroom and protect local control of schools. As a small business owner, he understands the importance of removing barriers to growth so job opportunities will exist for generations to come. “As a proud Republican, I will represent our shared conservative values and serve as a true voice of the people to deliver the results we deserve,” Sherrill said.


Clint Smith

A former chairman of the Dawson County Republican Party, Clint served in the Georgia House of Representatives for eight years. He was consistently endorsed by Georgia Right to Life and the National Rifle Association. He also received 100 percent scores from the Christian Coalition and the National Federation of Independent Business. Support for job growth, small business, local control of education and agriculture will be among his top priorities if elected. He said he also supports current legislation to create a safer environment for citizens who live in assisted living, personal care, and nursing homes by substantially toughening state oversight. Clint is a veteran after 32 years in the Air National Guard. He attends First Redeemer Church in Cumming and has pledge never to allow the leftists, politically correct agenda to impede upon our conservative north Georgia values.


Tyler Tolin

Tyler is an American patriot. A former U.S. Marine, Army Airborne Ranger and special ops team member who served in Afghanistan, Iraq, Africa and the Mediterranean. All together he spent 52 months in combat zones during his military career. “It’s fair to say I am a warfighter,” Tolin said. Our Founding Fathers created the Constitution to limit the power of government and give the power to the people. But politicians have used and abused the system. They have done nothing but enrich themselves, set rules for us to live by, but refused to live by them themselves. I pledge to you today that if you will elect me you will have a fighter in the General Assembly. I am not a go-along-to-get-along kind of guy. I will fight for you just as hard as I fought for this great nation. I will defend the Second Amendment, work to cut taxes, support pro-life issues and bring God back to the forefront of American life.”


Zack Tumlin

Zack’s campaign message is “Defending the Conservative Way of Life.” An attorney, he is heavily vested public service to the community. He serves as Governmental Affairs Chairman for the Dahlonega Lumpkin County Chamber of Commerce. He is also a member of the Medical Center Foundation Board for Northeast Georgia Health Systems and board director for the South Enotah Child Advocacy Center. He cut his teeth on conservative causes, starting in college as Vice President of College Republicans and continuing during an internship in Washington D.C for former Georgia Congressman Nathan Deal. He is a graduate of the Zell Miller Foundation for better public policy. He has published and extensive list of policy positions on his website at tumlinforgeorgia.com. He said one of his top priorities will be to route fines and fees collected in traffic court to local treasuries to supplement law enforcement and first responder pay.


Will Wade

Will is a community banker who has served on the Dawson County Board of Education for 15 years and currently serves as Chairman. He is a native of Dawson County, a graduate of Dawson County High School and the University of North Georgia who earned his master’s degree while working as a bank teller. Will led Dawson County to become one of the first system-wide charter school systems in Georgia, expanding school choice because he knows parents and students know better than the government what is best for them. Will said he knows what it takes for people to succeed and that has led him to enter the race for state representative. If elected, he said he will dismantle Common Core, expand technical training, keep education local defend religious liberties, the right to life and the Second Amendment.



Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com



Back to Top