The responses to these questions were edited for length and clarity by the Georgia Decides team. Each candidate was allotted 150 words for each answer and some answers were trimmed in order to abide by that length requirement. Other edits were made to make sure readers can fully follow and understand the candidate responses.
Campaigning for: State House District 89
How does your background equip you for the job you are seeking?
I am excited, humbled and honored to be the representative for Georgia House District 83 through December, and a candidate for House District 89 in the November election. I am a graduate of Emory University. My husband David and I raised our three children in DeKalb County. They all graduated from Druid Hills High School. My family have been active members of North Decatur Presbyterian Church for 35 years. Public service is in my blood. My father was a well-known pastor and civil rights proponent, In my last year at Emory I was lucky enough to intern at the Carter Center. I have dedicated my life to servant leadership. I have served my community in many roles: nonprofit co-founder, political aide, volunteer and advocate. We love living in our community. I bring all of my experience and passion for service to the Capitol as your representative.
What role should government have in the lives of Georgians? How would you apply that philosophy to the job you are seeking?
I believe society as a whole has a responsibility to help those in real material need, and that government plays a major role, with support from taxes. I also believe that the “private depends on the public” — that the blessings of modern American private life and private enterprise come from the investment of taxes in public education, public hospitals, public roads and bridges, publicly funded scientific research, etc. If we invest in public health care, Georgians will have the freedom to change jobs without losing their health insurance. When we invest in public education, we teach critical thinking skills to our children, providing them the future freedom for productive careers. Without investing in public resources we would have no satisfactory private life and no functioning business community in America — and no democracy.
If you are elected (or re-elected), what problems will you spend the most time solving and why?
I will work on the problem of improving literacy instruction in Georgia, as I am serving on the Literacy Instruction Study Committee. Over one million Georgians lack basic literacy skills. Only one-third of Georgian students were reading proficiently at the end of third grade. If a person can’t read, they can’t get a good job. e need to ensure that we are teaching literacy skills. I will also be working on environmental and clean energy problems. Georgia needs a just transition to clean, affordable energy that will leave our state better for generations to come. It’s clear that there’s bipartisan support for removing barriers to renewable energy. I will be working on a slate of bills that would create more local jobs, protect Georgians from unfair nuclear power plant overrun charges, allow low-income residents the opportunity to benefit from rooftop solar, increase the number of electric vehicle charging stations, test for lead in water in schools and reduce plastic pollution.
Georgia is a politically diverse state. How will you work to represent Georgians whose political views differ from your own?
I have an open door policy. I answer all emails about policy from my constituents, and welcome all questions at town halls. I also believe in listening and learning, asking questions and building relationships. I am glad that we are mixed on the House floor, with Republicans and Democrats sitting next to one another. That helps to foster relationship building.
Who has been the biggest influence on how you view state government and politics? What have you learned from this person?
There are several wonderful people who have influenced me. States Sens. Elena Parent and Nan Orrock (both Democrats) are two key role models. Both of them are great leaders. They have strong communication skills and are inclusive in building their teams. They treat their support staff with respect. They are friendly and welcoming to whomever they meet. They have a great command of policy. They understand the politics of getting a bill passed when we are in the minority party, and when to make a raise a big ruckus to speak out against harmful legislation.
Georgia has a lot to offer current and potential residents, but many parts of the state are becoming increasingly unaffordable. Please explain your proposed approach to address housing affordability through legislation and executive actions?
I like these proposals from (gubernatorial candidate) Stacey Abram to address the need for decent housing: support first-time homeowners and expand the Georgia Dream program; help first-time homeowners through affordable financing, down payment assistance, closing cost assistance and homebuyer education; increase funding support for first-time homebuyers; dedicate funding to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund; fund the Affordable Housing Trust Fund at 10 times the current level and explore a dedicated revenue source; prohibit discrimination based on source of income; amend the Georgia Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination against renters based on their source of income; empower local governments to protect homeowners and tenants; and, finally, permit localities totake steps to protect homeowners and tenants, including local fair housing ordinances or protecting tenants by requiring inspections of single-family rental homes.
Politics is often about compromise. How do you decide when to compromise and take small, incremental wins, and when to refuse compromise?
This is hard to quantify. I don’t have a set formula. I believe in compromise, and not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. If I have a strong personal connection to a cause, based on experience, and believe the compromise does more harm than good, that is a reason to refuse. I believe it is important to talk things through with respected colleagues and policy experts, and people with real lived experience, in order to make tough decisions. I will also say that the attitude of the person leading the conversation or legislation affects how I will treat the issue. If there is no sincere and authentic effort to collaborate and listen from the other side, I am less likely to vote for a compromise.
There were politicians who questioned the outcomes of Georgia elections in 2018 and 2020. Do you think Georgia’s elections are secure and will you stand by the results?
Yes, I believe Georgia’s elections are secure and I will stand by the results.
In light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on abortion, state law and local enforcement authority will determine access to abortion.
I will speak out and join with others in a fight to repeal Georgia’s six week abortion ban. I will pursue private conversations with legislators to listen and see if we can find any common ground to improve access to reproductive health care.
Are there any programs/legislation you’ve sponsored or created to help people with disabilities?
I am a big supporter of state Sen. Sally Harrell’s legislation to invest more in two Medicaid programs — the new option waiver (NOW) and the comprehensive support waiver (COMP) — for persons with disabilities. I met individually with members of the House budget committee to ask for their support. Georgia has more than over 7,000 people waiting on support and services. Research has proven that a community setting is the best option for people with disabilities, but an option only available to most people when they have support provided by a Medicaid waiver. The state could budget $28 million and fund 1,500 waivers. This does not meet the need, but it’s a start. Over a decade ago, the state funded 1,500 waivers per year. Surely we can do it again.
Georgia closed out its budget year with a “likely record surplus, billions of dollars in federal aid and a growing economy.” Georgia spends more than half of this money on education and health care. What would you want to see in the budget in terms of spending or taxes?
I would like to invest more in salaries of public workers, such asteachers and public safety officers. I would also like to invest in paying for more school counselors as well as in creating a weight for poverty in the formula for funding public education. I would also like Georgia to invest significantly more in capital in the public Housing Trust Fund in and in Medicaid waivers — the new option waiver (NOW) and the comprehensive support waiver (COMP) — for persons with disabilities. And, of course I support expanding Medicaid to low-income workers. More than 500,000 hardworking Georgians do not have access to this critical insurance, and our tax dollars are going to other states.
The Legislature often votes along party lines. When would you seek bipartisan action and what issues merit such consensus?
I seek bipartisan support when I want to get a bill passed. All issues merit such consensus. That is a silly question for a member of the minority party.