House District 61 candidates spar over who is best fit to serve

House District 61 candidates spar over who is best fit to serve

With Election Day quickly approaching, the candidates for House District 61 are challenging each other on who is best fit to serve.

Rep. Charles Sargent, a 20-year incumbent, is being challenged by businessman Steve Gawrys, who also ran in the last election and came within 250 votes of defeating him. Gawrys and Sargent have battled back and forth for months over campaign policies, voting records and more, and in a final press release Gawrys has continued the spar.

“Early on, we knew that Sargent would be well-funded and would receive several ‘automatic’ endorsements,” Gawrys said. “Furthermore, as chairman of House Finance, Sargent has the ability to deny organizations or colleagues who fail to ‘publicly’ support his re-election bid.”

Estimates say Sargent has out-spent Gawrys’ campaign 10 to one. Gawrys said in the press release that “Voters have been getting pounded by the Sargent campaign with direct mail, phone surveys, TV commercials and constant automated phone polling. However, the results have not been as effective as the Sargent camp had hopes, as polling data indicates that the race remains tight.”

Sargent said Gawrys’ claims are false, and that the challenger has had ample time to distribute his campaign against him.

“For nearly a year now, Steve Gawrys has been unavailable for a debate to substantiate his claims, and he doesn’t have time to attend community events focused on policy or to even maintain a campaign website, where one might learn more about his background and what he brings to the table,” Sargent said. “But he’s had plenty of time to distribute patently false flyers and run a shadow campaign spreading these obvious lies, including bogus Facebook pages and whatever other tricks they can come up with.”

Gawrys said his campaign messaging has been effective.

“Charles Sargent voted to give drivers license to illegal aliens in 2004, he was complicit in force-funding Planned Parenthood in 2011 after the General Assembly voted against it,” Gawrys said. “And Sargent cannot hide from the fact that he sponsored an ObamaCare bill in 2012. What’s worse, Sargent used his power as committee chairman to oppose conservatives on tax cuts and 2nd Amendment legislation.”

Sargent said his record is available for anyone to see online and that Gawrys’ claims are inaccurate.

“It’s slimy special-interest politics, and our county deserves better than that,” Sargent said. “As for my record, I would point anyone to my website,, to see the legislative records, third-party scorecards, endorsements of dozens of individuals and organizations, and clear statements on the truth of these matters as they form their opinions on which candidate to support.”

Gawrys called Sargent a career politician, and said that he “has been an enemy to conservative policy,” and even alluded to Sargent being responsible for property tax rates raising.

“When a man like Steve Gawrys is willing to say whatever it takes to try to get elected, you have to wonder what — and whom — are motivating him,” Sargent said. “I’m an open book, and he’s nowhere to be found … that’s the comparison.”

Gawrys said that, “Voters are tired of back-room deals and have grown tired of Sargent’s left-leaning record. And when Democrats begin to raise money for a career politician like Charles Sargent, Republican voters become frustrated. I believe that 20 years is long enough.”

Election Day is on Aug. 4. Also running is Brentwood doctor Terrence Smith, who could not be reached for comment.

Samantha Hearn reports for Home Page Media Group. She can be reached via email at or on Twitter @samanthahearn.

About The Author

Kelly Gilfillan is the owner-publisher of Home Page Media Group which has been publishing hyperlocal news since 2009.

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