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 108
How does your background equip you for the job you are seeking?
As both a scientist and an educator, I have a unique background that helps me be a more effective legislator. In my time in office, I have strived to use my scientific training to evaluate legislation and data in order to make the best decision for my constituents. I’m not afraid to call out fake data and misinformation — and I will continue to do so. For example, when Gov. Brian Kemp’s office published misleading COVID-19 data to try to push a narrative, I called them out and made them reverse course.
What role should government have in the lives of Georgians? How would you apply that philosophy to the job you are seeking?
The government should seek to make lives easier for Georgians. This means we should be attentive to our constituents’ needs, deliver on services that we promise,and work to listen to the people we represent in order to find solutions to their problems. As a state representative, I am required to pass a balanced budget for the state. In doing this, I will consider the needs of my constituents so that they get a return on their investment into our state. Also, I will continue to have a constituent-focused, equity-minded approach to considering legislation while holding our government accountable when it fails to deliver for my constituents.
If you are elected (or re-elected), what problems will you spend the most time solving and why?
While I can’t predict what issue will be on the frontlines of the next legislative session, I have several goals when it comes to what legislation I plan to support and oppose. In light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision impacting abortion, I want to ensure women have access in Georgia to all of their reproductive health care choices, including abortion. I will fight any attempts to further restrict women’s rights while also fighting to repeal the current, restrictive anti-choice legislation. Additionally, I want to remove barriers to voting in Georgia, institute common sense gun safety measures, provide an inclusive educational environment in our public schools, and address climate change and other environmental issues. On the local level, I will continue to work with the city of Lilburn, our federal partners, and the railroad companies to prevent traffic pile-ups caused by the railroad maintenance.
Georgia is a politically diverse state. How will you work to represent Georgians whose political views differ from your own?
I’m happy to work with anyone who’s working to make lives easier for Georgians. I have sponsored several bipartisan bills as a state representative, because I believe that that focus should not be on partisanship, but on the people of Georgia. My bill referenced above on the railroads was co-sponsored by a Republican and we’re looking to work together again to bring it to the floor this legislative session. In addition, I’m proud to be the co-chair of the Future Caucus with Rep. Steven Sainz, a conservative Republican. The Future Caucus focuses on millennial legislators of both parties working together to find solutions to problems.
Who has been the biggest influence on how you view state government and politics? What have you learned from this person?
It is difficult to identify a single, biggest influence on how I view state government and politics. My views are, instead, shaped by several different people. For example, I like the approach of gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who served as the minority leader of the state House during a time when the Democratic party lost a lot of members to party-switchers. She had to be very strategic in her leadership style. I also admire the late Congressman John Lewis, who always had an ear to the community. I especially loved his message of perseverance through the tough times, and standing up to do what is right and making good trouble. Third, I am influenced by my children because they are the ones that are paying attention to the world we are leaving to them. In every decision I make as a legislator, I consider how this will affect the next generation.
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?
We’ve seen the effects of the housing crisis in my district — the current rent prices are out of control and are being driven by corporate, out-of-state landlords. There are several things that we can and need to do at the state level about this. Georgia is one of the worst states in the country to be a tenant in. We need to institute a basic tenant bill of rights that ensures that gives power back to the renters. We need to crack down on private equity and out of state investors who are driving up housing prices by buying up single family homes, something that has become all too familiar in my district. And we also need to return power to the local level on so many housing issues – the state should not decide what housing policy is good for cities.
Politics is often about compromise. How do you decide when to compromise and take small, incremental wins, and when to refuse compromise?
Simply put – values. While compromise can be made on certain things, and compromise is important in a legislative body that represents a very large, diverse state, I will not compromise on my core values. I will not compromise on anything that strips away the right and ability for eligible voters to cast their ballot, discriminates against any group of individuals, violates freedom of speech, takes away reproductive rights, or denies any human being living in our state their dignity.
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?
While the overwhelming number of audits and recounts give me confidence that our elections are secure, and I stand by the results of the election, I do have grave concerns about the recent breaches in election security in places like Coffee County. Prior to the 2020 election, when Georgia was shopping for new voting machines, I stood in the well as a freshman legislator in 2018 and called for a system that involved hand-marked paper ballots and human readable votes. My concern was not only with having ballots read by QR codes, but with how the lack of human readable votes (humans can’t read QR codes) could call any election into question. Two years later, my concerns rang true, as Donald Trump perpetuated the Big Lie and used the “machines” as the basis of his lie.
In light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on abortion, state law and local enforcement authority will determine access to abortion.
The Dobbs decision was a tragedy. I am unequivocally pro-choice and oppose Georgia’s current, near total abortion ban. Should the opportunity arise, I would proudly vote to repeal this law. Additionally, prior to the passage of the abortion ban, there were other laws on the books in Georgia that restrict access to needed reproductive care, and need to be revisited. I also promise to vote against any additional restrictions on abortions or women’s health that come up in future sessions.
Are there any programs/legislation you’ve sponsored or created to help people with disabilities?
I have not sponsored any legislation specifically addressing disabilities in our state, but I am a strong supporter of disability rights. I have signed onto legislation that would help the legally blind in Georgia. I also know that many of the barriers to voting directly affect some in our disabled community, and I will continue to fight for access to the ballot box for them as well. Individuals in our state that have a disability still deserve the access, inclusion, and dignity that every person in our state deserves, and I make sure to push for policies that acknowledge and/or address that accordingly.
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?
It’s great to see that we have a budget surplus, but that hardly matters when Gwinnett County teachers are some of the lowest paid in the nation and hospitals are shutting down left and right. We need a budget that actually funds our public schools in a meaningful way, pays our teachers what they deserve, keeps hospitals open for the long term and makes sure our most vulnerable are taken care of. We don’t need a budget that puts our money in the pockets of the most wealthy.
The Legislature often votes along party lines. When would you seek bipartisan action and what issues merit such consensus?
I’m happy to work with members of any party on what I think is right. I look forward to collaborating with fellow members of the Gwinnett delegation from both sides of the aisle on local issues that matter to my constituents.