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: Fulton County Commission District 1
How does your background equip you for the job you are seeking?
I have an engineering background in process management and a MBA. With my background, I have the skills and experience to ask the right questions, get the right answers and oversee the right solutions to put Fulton County on the road to better efficiency and accountability. My family and I have called Fulton County home for 27 years. During this time, I have been an active community volunteer working with many non-profit organizations. With the state of the economy and rising crime rates, there is an increasing need. Families are struggling with unprecedented inflation so now is not the time to raise taxes. It is the time to take “fresh-eyes” review of Fulton County operations, to institute more effective best practices, to create standard operating procedures and accountability measures. It is imperative that Fulton County operates more efficiently and effectively.
What role should government have in the lives of Georgians? How would you apply that philosophy to the job you are seeking?
Fulton County Commissioners have the job of overseeing the health and welfare of the entire county, coordinating services that are countywide. Budgets should be prioritized to achieve this responsibility. Right now, Fulton County is not healthy. Crime, homelessness, fentanyl dangers, the courts are backlogged – these are some of the top issues that need solutions. We need to get to the root of the problem and not simply throw money at it. As a commissioner, I will address the root of the problem. I believe that the government closest to people is the most effective. When your elected officials are your neighbors, there is more opportunity for open communication. As a Commissioner, I will keep my constituents engaged and informed in the decision-making process. Fulton County needs to empower the people by advancing policies that create a more open, accountable, and responsive government. Trust needs to be restored.
If you are elected (or re-elected), what problems will you spend the most time solving and why?
Crime & health: A third of the county budget is spent on public safety. The overcrowding of the jail is a problem. It is dangerous for both inmates and correctional workers. Mayor Dickens of Atlanta seems to be instituting more proactive policies than the prior administration, like allowing Fulton to lease 750 beds at the Atlanta Detention Center. In addition, the court backlog is part of the problem. With the rapid violent crime increase in Atlanta our law enforcement needs to be equipped to protect our communities. But just throwing money at the problem is not the solution. We need to understand the why behind the increase in crime. Since all Fulton taxpayers are paying, they need a say in the policies that are both combating/contributing to rising crime rates.
Mental health, drug and substance abuse are also big issues. Grady Hospital will now have to take on more with the closing of two hospitals. The construction of a new Behavioral Health Center will provide much needed services. However, keeping costs manageable, accountable and transparent to Fulton taxpayers will be imperative. As opioids/fentanyl flood into the northern suburbs, we need to continue educating our youth on the dangers of drug use. As a long-term Fulton resident, I have volunteered my services throughout the years and have seen the value of non-profits working in these areas of concern. Fulton needs create partnerships with non-profits to make a positive difference in the lives of all residents.
Georgia is a politically diverse state. How will you work to represent Georgians whose political views differ from your own?
Fulton County has become divided; north and south, black and white, Democrat and Republican. We need to put aside our differences. We need to come together for the unified purpose of making this county a great place to live for everyone. As residents, there are many issues where there is support and consensus. That’s a great place to start. It is time to BUILD bridges!
Presently, there is an example of a group of people of diverse backgrounds and political beliefs working together toward a common goal. It is the collaboration and solidarity of all the Fulton County cities and their mayors, working together in a collegial manner on the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) negotiations with Fulton County. Although presently negotiations are difficult, mainly because of the county’s position, it is a glimmer of hope for further cooperation in the future on cross-county issues and projects.
Who has been the biggest influence on how you view government and politics? What have you learned from this person?
While I do not have a specific influence on how I view state government, I respect people that stand on principal and truth, even when that principal or truth may not be popular. I am an advocate of the open and respectful exchange of ideas, even when we disagree. As a thoughtful person who remains anonymous to this day once said, “Respect is earned, Honesty is appreciated, Love is gained and Loyalty is returned.”
Politics is often about compromise. How do you decide when to compromise and take small, incremental wins, and when to refuse compromise?
I consider myself a principled person. I will not compromise my principles. However, if compromising means searching for the common ground, focusing on where we agree, giving a little on both sides to reach a common goal, without sacrificing principle, then compromise is ok. It is ironic that the historical figure who compared the crafting of laws to sausage making, also observed that “Politics is the art of the possible.”
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?
In 2018, long lines were caused by poorly trained/inexperienced workers. I worked with Fulton County Elections to come up with solutions.
I think Georgia’s elections are more secure than in 2020 but they still have a way to go. In 2021, two Fulton County Elections workers were fired for illegally shredding voter registrations. It is still not clear exactly what happened.
On Sept. 23, 2022, a Fulton County Elections employee mistakenly emailed sensitive voter data. The employee who called attention to the breach was punished by not being allowed to work. Actions like this do not foster an open and accountable work environment.
I have an engineering background in process management and based on standards and best practices in my work experience there are too many people who have access to sensitive voter data. The data must be secured and the access limited. Temporary workers should not have access. Procedures should be in place to secure the data.
As always, I stand by the election results. However, Fulton County elections need improvement. We should have a goal of continually improving the integrity of our elections. It is imperative the processes are fair and transparent. Outside groups should not be involved in the process. Stakeholders in our community should be running our elections.
In light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on abortion, state law and local enforcement authority will determine access to abortion. If elected, how will you use your authority to influence abortion access or enforcement of abortion restrictions?
As a commissioner, I would not have influence over abortion access. As a principle, I do believe in the rule of law. All people and institutions are subject to and accountable to the law and the law should be fairly applied and enforced. Officials should not be able to pick and choose which laws they will or will not uphold.