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 83
How does your background equip you for the job you are seeking?
From my time serving on Chamblee City Council, I’m equipped to handle the rigors of policy making, the politics of governance and the pains and joys of constituent services. I’m proud that I was able to secure resources for residents and businesses, implement new technology and processes to keep staff and residents safe while ensuring uninterrupted city services during the height of the COVID pandemic.
From my experience parenting two public school students, and serving on multiple education foundations’ boards, I’m knowledgeable of the inner workings of our school system and will be able to be an effective advocate for our public schools from day one.
From the seven years spent working with elders with Alzheimer’s and dementia, I’ve witnessed first-hand the challenges of those in long-term care and their caregivers. This experience and expertise gives me a unique perspective of the healthcare industry, elder care and public health policy.
What role should government have in the lives of Georgians? How would you apply that philosophy to the job you are seeking?
I was raised to believe that good government and strong communities are built by citizen participation. And therefore, government can be a robust tool to build thriving communities for all residents. Beyond just delivering services, like roads and sewers, I believe that government should sustain a social safety net in order to strengthen the whole of our state.This not only is a moral imperative, but it is sound fiscal policy to invest in public well-being. Our government should be a reflection of the will of the electorate and can keep society from serving the interests of only the powerful.
If you are elected (or re-elected), what problems will you spend the most time solving and why?
1. Mitigating the rising costs of energy, housing, and health care
2. Assuring safe, healthy communities for all Georgians: from protecting our families from gun violence, safeguarding women’s reproductive rights, to expanding access to affordable healthcare and supporting our police and first responders
3. Providing an excellent public education for all our children
Accomplishing these goals will make a brighter and more secure future for our state.
Georgia is a politically diverse state. How will you work to represent Georgians whose political views differ from your own?
I served as a nonpartisan elected official in the city of Chamblee, representing residents with deep political divides. I was motivated to find common ground and prioritize the needs of the whole community because that is our role and responsibility- to work on behalf of the people. It is only natural that not everyone has the same political beliefs.
In order to build consensus, I had to establish trust through active listening and engagement with my colleagues and constituents. The same will be true in the state legislature. I might not personally agree with another representative’s or constituent’s viewpoint, but by listening to their reasoning and respecting their point of view, the chance to establish mutual respect is created. With that respect comes a willingness to work together and build consensus, in spite of differences.
Who has been the biggest influence on how you view state government and politics? What have you learned from this person?
I grew up in rural Pennsylvania in a blue collar town, within a strong Christian family. I’ve lived in Atlanta for my entire adult life, but I still hold fast to the values my parents instilled in me and I still consider those teachings to be my foundation for public service. I’ve worked to practice the ideals of service and love during my career in music, music therapy and on the Chamblee City Council. Making decisions based on fear or anger will not bring about the best solutions, so turning to cooperation, patience and understanding is best for all. My goal is to lift up small voices and make our chorus bigger and more inclusive, as I’ve been taught to do.
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 am very familiar with our state’s housing issues, through my position in local government. Georgia needs to be open to innovation when it comes to creating affordable housing. To keep our communities viable for ALL, we must incentivize affordable housing plans and developments with local governments and markets, in concert with public or private means. It is in the best interests of our neighborhoods to keep our seniors, young families, police, nurses and other essential workers living in our communities. In addition, we need to adopt better funding opportunities for housing solutions, and support statewide policies to increase workforce housing near transit hubs and economically vibrant areas.
Politics is often about compromise. How do you decide when to compromise and take small, incremental wins, and when to refuse compromise?
Our system of government is based on finding solutions to our problems through compromise. The best compromises are made when the agreement provides for the advancement of policies that do more good than harm for the most people — including our most vulnerable populations.
I’m not going to compromise on issues that will put a minority class of people in harm’s way or weakened positions on the basis of any -isms (sexism, racism, ageism, etc). Examples include limiting reproductive healthcare or restricting voting rights for the poor, the elderly, or communities of color.
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 and Yes. I believe Georgia does not have an election security issue, however, it does have a voting access issue, which is different.
Voting is a right, not a type of challenge. The ballot for any given election should be as accessible as possible, and should take into account barriers that voters may face. No matter a voter’s location, economic status, language, or mobility, access to voting should be expanded, not constricted.
I will stand by our election results.
In light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on abortion, state law and local enforcement authority will determine access to abortion.
As a legislator, I will work passionately to increase access to all reproductive healthcare, including abortion and access to contraceptives , and I will oppose any restriction proposed to a women’s right to bodily autonomy and her agency. Our recently-enacted extreme anti-abortion laws reveal a complete misunderstanding of pregnancy and the needs of women and families.
Are there any programs/legislation you’ve sponsored or created to help people with disabilities?
I have been working in nursing homes since 2015, when I was hired to create and expand a therapeutic music program at multiple facilities for patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Improving their lives and cognitive abilities through music was a deeply rewarding experience, and gives me a unique understanding of the healthcare industry, elder care and public health policy. Citizens with disabilities and the families who care for them should be able to live full and fulfilling lives.
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?
State spending should go towards investment in the lives of the citizens of Georgia. Our healthcare system is crumbling. I would want Georgia’s budget to include fully expanding Medicaid so we can use the billion-plus in federal relief dollars towards shoring up hospitals, providing more good-paying healthcare jobs, and ultimately, lowering healthcare costs for all Georgians. Economic prosperity cannot exist in places without a healthy populace.
Even considering the percentage of our state budget spent on education, Georgia still falls well below the national average for spending-per-pupil, and it shows. Investment in education will net good returns. Better schools mean higher home values, more vibrant communities, and better-educated students mean a better workforce for the state. I want to see in our budget a modern and updated funding formula for schools.
The Legislature often votes along party lines. When would you seek bipartisan action and what issues merit such consensus?
Frankly, most issues should merit consensus. Our state and our country would be a better place if we could find common ground on more issues through active listening, cooperation, education and compromise. That being said, the reality is outside of a few divisive issues, most bills that address our state’s needs are passed with bipartisan support. However, Georgia’s relatively short legislative session of 40 days leaves little time to wrestle with difficult issues in a meaningful manner before Sine Die.