Tea parties bubbling up in Georgia

Tea parties bubbling up in Georgia

December 29th, 2009 by Kelly Jackson in News

ON THE WEB

Learn more about the Tea Party or find a local group at http://teapartypatriots.org.

TEA PARTY MEETINGS

* Catoosa County: Meetings are 7 p.m. the second and third Tuesday of each month. E-mail catoosapatriots@gmail.com or visit the group's Facebook page.

* Dade County: The first meeting is set at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 12 in the Dade County Commission meeting room in the county administration building.

* Gilmer County: Visit www.teapartyofgilmercounty.com for meeting schedule and information.

* Walker County: Meetings are at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month at Dari-Dip. E-mail jamesgrocesr@comcast.net for more information.

Source: Local Tea Party leaders

There's a political movement percolating in North Georgia, and it's picking up steam.

Catoosa, Gilmer and Walker counties have tea party groups, and new ones are forming in Dade and Whitfield counties.

"My desire is to go through all of the (Georgia's) 9th Congressional District and organize tea parties," said James Groce, a leader with the Tea Party of Walker County.

Teresa Tatum, a leader of Catoosa County Patriots, said modern-day tea party groups loosely are named after the Boston Tea Party of 1773.

"It's not that we're protesting taxation without representation, but we're definitely against the progressive tax system and we believe that it's unconstitutional," she said.

Mr. Groce said his tea party days started on April 15, when he joined the tax day protest in LaFayette, Ga. Protesters gathered in Washington, D.C., and around the nation that day to speak out against government spending. Since then, local tea parties have organized to keep an eye on politics throughout the year.

"We're just a bunch of independent conservatives who want to take the country back," Mr. Groce said.

He said tea party members have certain political goals.

Ms. Tatum said "less federal control would probably be the mantra for the entire tea party movement."

Tea party members advocate less government spending. Some support a statewide sales tax that would replace property, income and other forms of tax, she said.

But Chris Scott, chairman of the Catoosa County Democratic Party, said the people behind the tea party movement "are usually big landowners and they don't want to pay any more property tax."

Mr. Scott said governments already operate on limited budgets, citing recent furloughs for public employees and schoolteachers.

"Every time you pay taxes, you're not throwing money away, you're investing in your community," he said, adding that vital services such as law enforcement could go away without taxes.

Jack Smith, a member of the Tea Party of Gilmer County, said each tea party group is independent and focuses on grass-roots issues.

He said groups are participating in 2010 elections by having candidates attend meetings and speak. But the groups are not endorsing specific candidates, he said.