During the forum, the moderator gave each candidate the opportunity to ask a question of his opponent.
"Frankly, I don't have any questions I'd like to ask Mr. Savage," Lee said.
Savage took a different approach, citing a line from the state ethics law on the proper use of campaign finance funding.
"In your campaign disclosures, we see $5,200 for an airline ticket to Korea, $300 spending money for a trip to Korea," Savage said. "Is that an appropriate use of campaign funds?"
Lee responded with a simple "yes," prompting the moderator to ask if he cared to continue.
"No," Lee said.
The moderator then offered Lee another opportunity to ask Savage a question, but Lee declined a second time.
Savage joked after the debate that he would concede all votes in Korea.
"I'm being polite when I say I think it's a very strange thing to see in a campaign disclosure report," Savage said of Lee's Korean expenditure in his disclosure report. "I don't see how that relates to the campaign of getting elected. I think he may have told us more simply saying 'yes' and stonewalling than if he said something else."
Savage said he was equally surprised that Lee didn't have a question for him.
"We knew the format going in," Savage said.
Lee said after the debate he didn't think asking Savage a question added to the quality of the forum. He also said there was nothing wrong with his trip to Korea, which was taken on behalf of economic development for the county.
Then-Commissioner Lee traveled with then-Chairman Sam Olens, school officials, then-Chamber President Don Beavers, and the county's economic development director to Cobb's sister city, Seongdong-Gu, a providence of Seoul, in March to meet with government and business leaders there. Olens said before the trip that, from an economic standpoint, placing the county in the mindsets of South Korean business leaders, such as those from LG and Kia, can be really beneficial to the future of Cobb.
One of the questions asked of Savage during Friday's forum had to do with transparency. The questioner, MDJ's Katy Ruth Camp, said the Cobb school board has repeatedly violated Georgia's Open Meetings laws over the years. Savage was asked what he would do to ensure Cobb government operated in a transparent, law abiding matter if elected chairman.
"Transparency depends very much upon the individuals involved," Savage said. "If the people who are participating wish to have transparency, then you'll have transparency. So the critical thing is to begin the process with everyone on board in supporting the idea of openness. We have to have an understanding that there shall be no participation in an obscure process or no participation in a process that's not in the best interest of the people, and the best interest of the people require openness."
On the subject of transparency, Atlanta columnist Jim Galloway asked Lee about the proposal to outsource the county's economic development department to the Cobb Chamber of Commerce.
"How open would be the costs and promises involved in the recruitment that a chamber effort would lead? How open would that be to public inspection?" Galloway asked.
Lee described Cobb's economic development department efforts right now as excellent.
"They've done a great deal of work and have had some successes over the past number of years, and brought many good companies and new jobs to Cobb County," Lee said. "What's being proposed is a county-wide evaluation by the stakeholders involved in the business community, the government, the folks that live in Cobb County, and some of the experts in economic development to review our process and make sure we have the best system in place for bringing the jobs and new businesses to Cobb County. And I know for a fact there was no decision made, no discussions about moving it to Cobb Chamber. It was just basically an idea to discuss what are the options. How do we get the best economic development efforts in Cobb County?"
Candidates were also asked their positions on the subject of rail.
Lee said, "connectivity and volume is key to making it successful. It's a great tool if the perimeters exist to justify the expense. ... So, as a tool, it makes sense for instance if we're doing high speed rail between Chattanooga and the Atlanta airport, then it obviously makes sense because that's the most effective and efficient way to move people that fast."
Savage said rail is most effective when there is a longer travel distance and large number of people who need to move from Point A to Point B.
"I don't know that we can identify at this point that we have that kind of load of people who can share the same route and make effective use of the rail system," Savage said. "The rail systems are typically very expensive, and two other things we have to always think about - rail systems tend to be very inflexible. Once it's there, it's there, and you're not going to move it when the demand changes. And there's also the issue of the ongoing subsidies that inevitably become part of a rail system."