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: US House Georgia District 4
How does your background equip you for the job you are seeking?
When I was a newly licensed attorney, I hung a shingle and started my own
law firm. As a small but successful attorney and small business owner for 27
years before being elected to Congress, I learned the importance of treating
my clients and employees honestly and fairly. As a former Magistrate Judge, I
understand the law and how it must be applied fairly, and as a county
commissioner I learned the importance of delivering good schools, safe
streets, and a clean environment. Being a senior member on the House
Judiciary and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committees while also
serving on the House Oversight Committee has enabled me to have a
nationally recognized constituent services operation. The Congressional
Management Foundation recognized my office as one of the most effective in
the nation. My office has delivered more than $90 million to people in
Georgia’s 4th District.
What role should government have in the lives of Georgians? How would you apply that philosophy to the job you are seeking?
I believe government should be of, by and for the people. Elected officials are there to serve the people, not themselves, and are at all times answerable to the people. The role of the federal government is most succinctly stated in the words of the Preamble to our Constitution: “…to establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, and promote the general welfare….” My record as a public servant shows that I have sought to live up to those ideals.
If you are elected (or re-elected), what problems will you spend the most time solving and why?
American democracy is under assault and the times call for protecting and strengthening the Rule of Law. As Chair of the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, I introduced legislation that expands the size of SCOTUS, requires justices to follow a code of conduct, enacts term limits and transparency rules, and expands the number of federal trial and appellate courts while mandating real time streaming of federal court proceedings and modernizing the federal court’s information technology operations so that the public can obtain court records free of charge. I am proud to have passed legislation that protects workers and consumers from forced arbitration. I will also continue working to deliver the federal resources needed to address the infrastructure needs of the Fourth Congressional District.
Georgia is a politically diverse state. How will you work to represent Georgians whose political views differ from your own?
I will continue working with Republicans to get important things done for Georgians. I have secured Republican cosponsors for my bills including the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act, which protects the right to a trial by jury in consumer and employment cases. I have reached across the aisle to ensure that HBCUs, MARTA and clean-energy industries have the resources they need to grow and thrive. When lowering costs of prescription drugs for seniors, and securing funding for hepatitis, I had Republican support. While I will always speak out on policies that are bad for our country, I will never fail to seek bipartisan support for good ideas and legislation. To govern is to lead and seek solutions, which means communication and compromise in the interest of the people I serve.
Who has been the biggest influence on how you view state government and politics? What have you learned from this person?
A big influence on my years as a public servant is the late Charles L. Weltner, a principled former United States Congressman representing Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District who gave up his seat rather than sign a loyalty oath to racist Gov. Lester Maddox. He was one of only two southern Democrats to vote in favor of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Later, in Davis v. Macon, a case about open meetings, then Chief Justice Weltner of the Supreme Court of Georgia wrote words that have stuck with me: “Because public men and women are amenable ‘at all times’ to the people, they must conduct the public’s business out in the open.” That phrase captures the spirit of my service as an elected official. Open government is honest government.
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 federal legislation and executive actions?
A good start is a bill I voted for in 2020 — the Moving Forward Act. In that bill was a previous version of the Housing Is Infrastructure Act (H.R.4497). This bill invests $75 billion to fully address the capital needs to repair public housing, invests $45 billion in the National Housing Trust Fund, and provides $200 billion for rental assistance. I also support the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, which would help end housing poverty and homelessness in America by directly addressing the underlying cause of the affordable housing crisis – the severe shortage of affordable rental homes for people with the lowest incomes – through a robust investment of nearly $45 billion annually in the national Housing Trust Fund. The bill also includes resources to repair public housing, build or rehabilitate housing in tribal and Native Hawaiian communities, and create and preserve affordable homes in rural areas.
Politics is often about compromise. How do you decide when to compromise and take small, incremental wins, and when to refuse compromise?
My philosophy is to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. In other words, if incremental progress is what is possible, then I am willing to accept what is possible even though it may not be what is fully needed. That is what compromise is all about.
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?
Georgia’s 2020 election was proven to be accurate and secure, and there was absolutely no evidence that the 2020 election was stolen. However, the copying of almost every component of Coffee County’s voting system by rogue outsiders may have created a gateway for wrongdoers to corrupt the voting process statewide in future elections, and I am not satisfied that the Secretary of State has done enough to safeguard security for the upcoming elections. I think the safest and most secure way to vote is by fill in the bubble paper ballots.
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 in the U.S. House to influence abortion access or enforcement of abortion restrictions?
Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey were the proper approach to abortion policy, and the United States Supreme Court committed a grievous, ideological error when it overturned those precedents and threw the question of reproductive freedom to politicians. It is inhumane to leave women’s healthcare choices up to anyone outside of the very personal and private relationship between a woman and her doctor. Therefore, I support legislation in Congress that will enshrine Roe v. Wade as the law of the land.
The U.S. Congress often votes along party lines. When would you seek bipartisan action and what issues merit such consensus?
Back to the Preamble, if an issue pertains to any one of those noble goals, we should seek bipartisan action. In this Congress, we saw the mighty effort of President Biden, Senate, and House Leadership building consensus to get important things done for the American people. The bipartisan infrastructure law says we are working collectively to move toward carbon reduction, congestion relief, and local and regional project assistance. In Georgia this means we will have funding to improve and expand public transportation options, broadband coverage, electric vehicle charging stations, bridge replacement and repairs and upgrades at airports. These are all projects for the common good. We need to see the same action around voting rights, protecting reproductive freedom, expanding health opportunities, including Medicaid and veteran’s affairs. All the important issues warrant bipartisan action. We could use much more of it in the future.