By Shannon McCaffrey
The Associated Press
ATLANTA —; Secretary of State Cathy Cox said Monday that if elected governor she would appoint a state drug czar to crack down on the spread of methamphetamine and other illegal substances.
Cox unveiled a public safety platform at a speech to prosecutors. The Democrat said she would also expand the role of the state’s drug courts and work to put more police on the streets.
The speech came on the same day that Cox took the wraps off her first television advertisement of the campaign. The folksy 30-second spot, which began running statewide on Monday, shows Cox sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch of her family’s home in tiny Bainbridge, Ga.
“I wouldn’t trade growing up in Bainbridge for anything in the world,” Cox said.
As Cox talks, highlights from her resume —; Sunday school teacher, legislator, Mercer Law School graduate —; flash on the screen.
“Every single Georgian, everyone deserves their shot in life,” Cox says in the ad. “Everyone deserves an opportunity to succeed.”
Cox is the last of the three major gubernatorial candidates to hit the airwaves. Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, a Democrat, and Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue have had ads running for several weeks now. While Taylor and Cox have paid for their own ads from campaign funds, Perdue’s have been paid for by the state Republican Party.
In her speech to the District Attorneys Law Enforcement Appreciation luncheon in Camilla, Cox said Perdue has made election-year speeches about “the meth crisis” but has done little to address the problem. Perdue has failed to act on most of the recommendations from a statewide meth summit two years ago, she said.
The Perdue camp disputed that.
“Gov. Perdue has been combating the spread of meth since he took office, and we welcome a discussion of his leadership on this issue after the Democrats decide who will speak for them,” spokesman Derrick Dickey said.
Cox said a Cabinet-level drug czar would help coordinate the disjointed efforts of dozens of state agencies. She said drug courts have been shown to reduce recidivism rates for offenders and should be used more. The courts give addicts the option of seeking treatment or going to jail.
Cox also endorsed an initiative popular with state law enforcement to add salary steps and other incentives to keep troopers with the Georgia State Patrol and agents with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation on the job.
Georgia law enforcement officials have complained that they are paid less than their counterparts in other states and in some local police departments. They succeeded earlier this year in getting legislators to push through a 7 percent raise, but say some of the largest pay disparities emerge for veterans, who do not see large enough increases as they rise in the ranks.
On the hot topic of sex offenders, Cox said the bill that passed in the state Legislature this year would only apply to a few dozen of the worst offenders.
Cox said she would create a special probation and parole force to monitor released offenders who do not qualify for the state’s tough new electronic monitoring program.
The Taylor camp said that while Cox is making promises to fight crime, the lieutenant governor has already delivered. Spokesman Rick Dent said Taylor helped pass the two strikes law —; which supporters say is the toughest crime law in the nation —; and has worked to crack down on sex offenders who prey on children.
“We support those same ideas, but candidates for governor should be judged on what they’ve done about crime, not what they say about crime,” Dent said.
Cox did not provide a price tag for the initiatives she endorsed in her speech but a spokesman said they could be paid for with existing revenues and money from the state surplus.