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: Gwinnett County Commission District 4
How does your background equip you for the job you are seeking?
As the Incumbent county commissioner, I already have years of experience doing this job and working for Gwinnett residents. I have a Masters of Public Administration from Regent University. I obtained on-the-job experiences, both in my role as a county commissioner and as a community leader by becoming a certified county commissioner, graduating from the Georgia Academy for Economic Development Region Multi-Day Training Program, Leadership Gwinnett, DCA’s Community Planning Institute, and ARC’s Regional Leadership Institute (2022). Nationally, I served as 2021 vice chair and 2022 chair of the National Association of Counties’ Transit/Rail Subcommittee of the Transportation Steering Committee, member of both the Large Urban Counties Caucus Steering committee and the International Economic Development Task Force. I currently serve on the Association County Commissioners of Georgia’s Policy Council as 2022 Chair of the Health and Human Services Policy Committee, member of the Economic Development and Transportation Policy and General County Government Policy committees, to ensure that Gwinnett has a voice in making smart and forward thinking policy decisions internally and externally through Georgia. I have dedicated my life to helping work to build an even better Gwinnett, “the preferred community where everyone thrives,” through my local, regional, state and national public servant leader participation and I will continue to do so upon my re-election.
What role should government have in the lives of Georgians? How would you apply that philosophy to the job you are seeking?
Government should work to improve the lives of Georgians. One of my taglines is “We are Much Better Working Together”, and I believe that is true of society at large. It is also true about how the government should work with Georgians. We, as elected officials, are much better when we are working with the citizens of Georgia, listening to their needs and responding appropriately. Diversity is our strength as a state and as a county, when inclusivity is our superpower. We must include every single Georgian and Gwinnettian when considering policy decisions impacting our overall well-being, livelihood, housing, transportation, etc. by listening to all of the voices throughout the state and the county, whether in an urban, suburban or rural area. Our government should be inclusive, accessible and equitable to all. My commissioner’s office has embodied this perspective since I was first elected and will continue to when I am re-elected.
If you are elected (or re-elected), what problems will you spend the most time solving and why?
Since infrastructure creates and stabilizes a solid foundation for generations, that will remain a priority along with seeking out solutions for attainable and affordable housing. There is not one easy solution but will include a myriad of changes to our housing types, zoning, land usage, costs, programs, and perhaps even building more vertically than horizontally. I am also working on projects surrounding mental health jail diversion programs and possibly establishing a 24-hour mental health crisis center with our local community service board, environmental sustainability, transportation, workforce and the continued support to our small local businesses, etc., are all issues I will continue to work diligently on with my colleagues, partnerships, business owners, nonprofits, and other community stakeholders. Working together will bring forth positive experiences and resolutions that will help Gwinnett County to be sustained, flourished, prosper and thrive.
Georgia is a politically diverse state. How will you work to represent Georgians whose political views differ from your own?
Working across the aisle has always been one of my top priorities. Gwinnett is one of the most diverse, rapidly growing and changing counties in the state, and with that change comes shifts in political views. I am already a proven leader who has- dedicated my life to listening to all voices — Democrat, Republican, Independents or anywhere in between. I truly believe that we are much better working together, and that includes Democrats like myself working together with Republicans to create the best communities possible where we can all improve the quality of our lives, raise our families, play, learn and worship together. When I decided to get my masters in Public Administration, I intentionally went to a university where I knew the vast majority of the students were Republicans, knowing that in order to be an effective Democratic leader in Georgia, I would need to be able to understand where Republicans are coming from too. I am a Democrat, but my focus will always be on helping the whole community, not on political affiliation.
Who has been the biggest influence on how you view government and politics? What have you learned from this person?
Actually, Jesus Christ. Through my faith and Christian perspectives, I’ve learned through the scriptures about government, the actions of leaders — what to do or what not to do in crisis situations, how to lead with grace, compassionate empathy, wisdom and humility, yet with courage, strategically serving others freely, and sometimes taking positions that impact others’ lives but will be for the greater good of humanity. A true blessing is as a public servant leader I “gets to” serve all residents of Gwinnett County and Georgians through leadership.
Politics is often about compromise. How do you decide when to compromise and take small, incremental wins, and when to refuse compromise?
I am always willing to listen to other perspectives and work collaboratively to find a solution perhaps through a compromise that will be best for all of our community members. However, I will never compromise my morals or my goal of creating the best community possible for all who live here.
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?
Having secure elections is fundamental to our democracy. As a former Elections Poll Manager, I understand the processes, credibility and weight of having secure elections and what it entails. In Gwinnett, we were required to count our election ballots three times during the last general election. The overall results remained the same. I stand by the results of the 2018 and 2020 elections in Georgia.
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 Christian, who strongly believes in the importance of bodily autonomy, the God given right to choose, and HIPPA privacy and, which is also a perspective that could be more palatable to my overwhelmingly religious and Christian district, I do understand the argument against abortion. However, the lives and independence of women are what is most important in this issue and acknowledging women’s ability to make our own decisions about their own bodies is the best way that we can lead at this time. Please note that while county commissioners do not play a direct role in that arena of policy, I will encourage all of my fellow elected officials to lead with love and respect. That means protecting women’s right to choose and address the maternal mortality rate in Georgia. As a Christian, the right to life is deeply important to me, but that also includes the right for women to live as they choose and make decisions for themselves and for the best interest of themselves.