published Friday, April 30th, 2010

Henry: Levity punctuates North Georgia candidate forum

By Larry Henry

In a two-hour candidate forum for the 9th Congressional District, confrontation was lacking among the six participants, but levity punctuated the public-policy remarks by candidates.

Former state Senate Majority Leader Bill Stephens, a 53-year-old communications executive, prompted laughter among the two dozen or so attendees in an auditorium at Dalton State College with a comment on fiscal responsibility.

Mr. Stephens, one of six Republicans in the May 11 special election, said that, as a state legislative leader, he bestowed a Stuck Pig Award on the Georgia Department of Corrections for spending $57,000 on “holistic stress management for prisoners.”

As those in attendance laughed, Mr. Stephens added that he always thought “it ought to be stressful in prison.”

Also, during an offbeat exchange about hot dogs, former state Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger, looking to his right at fellow Republican Chris Cates, a Blairsville cardiologist, joked that if fewer hot dogs were sold, there would be less of a need for heart doctors.

Laughing, Dr. Cates said he thinks the chili dogs from the Varsity drive-in in Atlanta are “really good.”

Compiled by staff writer Larry Henry. E-mail Larry Henry at Follow him on Twitter at

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