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 3
How does your background equip you for the job you are seeking?
I understand county government intimately, having served two terms in this job. My background as CPA, attorney and businessman, and my prior service on the Atlanta City Council (1994-2001) prepared me for understanding the processes of local government and the relative roles of county and city government. I serve on the county’s Audit Committee, which instituted the whistleblower hotline, the county’s Defined Benefit and award winning Defined Contribution Retirement Plan Boards, and on the Atlanta BeltLine and Invest Atlanta Boards as the county’s representative to those organizations.
What role should government have in the lives of Georgians? How would you apply that philosophy to the job you are seeking?
Government’s primary role is to keep citizens safe, so public safety has to be the cornerstone. Each government should perform the services that it was created to perform. In the case of the county, its responsibilities include, most importantly, the courts, the jail, elections, tax assessment and collection, and public health. County and city governments should not duplicate roles, nor try to replicate services that are the functions of state and federal governments. My philosophy always leads me to resist wasteful spending while trying to implement the very best service to the public.
If you are elected (or re-elected), what problems will you spend the most time solving and why?
One of my roles as a liaison with our justice partners (many of whom are separately elected and do not report to the Board of Commissioners) has been to work on Project ORCA, the $75Million effort to reduce the pandemic-caused backlog of civil and criminal court cases. The backlog of criminal cases has contributed to terrible and dangerous overcrowding in our jail, with large costs to the taxpayers. I will continue to make this project a high priority, as well as adequately funding the justice system to help address crime in our community. Also, we are facing large future costs for indigent healthcare and probably a new jail. The funding of those costs will be a priority in the next term.
Georgia is a politically diverse state. How will you work to represent Georgians whose political views differ from your own?
Not only is Georgia politically diverse, but Fulton County is diverse and within Fulton County, my district is diverse. I have always felt that county government offices ought to be non-partisan like city races, as nothing we do is bound up in state and federal political party differences. I will do as I have always done – that is, make decisions based on what I see as the greatest public good, and treat everyone with respect and courtesy. That is why I have endorsements from elected officials who are Democrats and Republicans, women and men, Black, White and Asian, gay and straight, and from the Atlanta Realty Boards and Georgia Equality. I am proud of the unusual width and breadth of my endorsers – see my website at VoteLeeMorris.com for their endorsements.
Who has been the biggest influence on how you view government and politics? What have you learned from this person?
I have always been an avid reader of American history, especially the American Civil War. Abraham Lincoln was, in my opinion, the epitome of what a political leader should be. He looked for the common good, he was not afraid to take tough positions and take the heat for his stances, and he did not hold grudges, even to the extent of placing opponents in important positions where their talents could be used for the public good.
Politics is often about compromise. How do you decide when to compromise and take small, incremental wins, and when to refuse compromise?
On the Atlanta City Council, I had some wonderful wins, some of which are described in my website. This was despite my very public differences with the then mayor, who ultimately was convicted and went to prison. But I frequently declined to compromise on what I thought were wrong proposals. I refused to compromise when I thought the end result of the political compromise was still against the public good. That has rarely been the experience on the county commission, and we have found good results with compromises. My philosophy still is not to vote for a proposed compromise that I think is contrary to the best interests of the citizens.
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, of course. I regret that candidates of both parties have challenged results and cast doubts in the minds of citizens about the integrity of the election process. For our society to survive and function as it should, the people must have faith in its institutions.
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?
The Board of Commissioners has no role in this issue. That said, I have been a supporter of a woman’s right to control her own body all of my adult life. In the extremely unlikely event, for example, that any commissioner or commissioners attempt to restrict funding for abortions in the health department, I will oppose any such attempt.