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 46
How does your background equip you for the job you are seeking?
I’m an entrepreneur who started my business during the height of the recession making me uniquely qualified to understand the challenges small businesses are going through after the pandemic. My project management background has also provided me the experience of guiding teams of people with different ideas to form consensus around a common goal.
What role should government have in the lives of Georgians? How would you apply that philosophy to the job you are seeking?
Government has the power to make a positive impact on the lives of Georgians. It also has a significant role in protecting the rights of its citizens. As such, the Georgia Legislature should be filled with politicians who wield that power responsibly. One question I will ask about every piece of legislation: will this help the citizens of this state?
If you are elected (or re-elected), what problems will you spend the most time solving and why?
We need to make a commitment to our public schools by fully funding them, adding a poverty weight for students living in poverty, and allowing our educators more input into the dollars we put into their classrooms. We need to enact common sense firearm safety legislation that keeps guns out of the hands of children, those that wish to do harm and those in crisis. And we need to take government out of ultrasound rooms and OB-GYN offices and trust women to make their own private and personal medical decisions.
Georgia is a politically diverse state. How will you work to represent Georgians whose political views differ from your own?
Whether as a volunteer at a local food pantry or as a part-time Lyft driver, I am always meeting people of different backgrounds. I don’t think people can just be reduced down to political views. It is unfortunate that we seem to do that a lot in our polarized environment. Poverty affects everyone. Unemployment affects everyone. Gun violence affects everyone. I will go into office to represent everyone and will make myself accessible to anyone regardless of their political views.
Who has been the biggest influence on how you view state government and politics? What have you learned from this person?
I wouldn’t say I have many personal influences when it comes to state government. My first experience with politics growing up was listening to an old record of speeches from President John F. Kennedy. I remember being taken by the way he confronted issues head on and challenged Americans to join him in doing better. And I spent a lot of time reading about the civil rights era, especially the writings and speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. and James Baldwin. In those, I learned about the power of grassroots organizing to drive positive change.
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?
This is a complex issue. It is partly due to stagnant wages as housing costs rise. In most parts of Metro Atlanta, a worker needs an hourly wage of over $20 an hour just to afford a two-bedroom apartment. It’s not just as simple as increasing the minimum wage. We must have initiatives that increase small business ownership and allow people to attain higher paying jobs without going into high levels of college debt.
Politics is often about compromise. How do you decide when to compromise and take small, incremental wins, and when to refuse compromise?
One of the first things I learned in project management is the value of personal relationships with those you interface with. You have to step out of your comfort zone and challenge those on the other side to do the same and find areas of common ground. But on issues of civil rights, such as with abortion rights or racial gerrymandering of local maps, I don’t see any room to compromise. In the year 2022, we should be past these issues.
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?
Our elections are secure just as they were in 2020, and I will stand by the results. I do believe Senate Bill 202 (Georgia’s voting law) is a huge step backward in terms of providing access to the ballot box. We can do better as a state, and I will work to make it easier for Georgians to vote in future elections.
In light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on abortion, state law and local enforcement authority will determine access to abortion.
On my first day, I will sponsor or co-sponsor legislation to codify the right to safe and legal abortions in Georgia. I will also pursue policies that remove barriers to reproductive health care and that encourage OB-GYNs and pediatricians to practice in this state. Our state is one of the worst states for maternal health outcomes in the country and that is unacceptable to me.
Are there any programs/legislation you’ve sponsored or created to help people with disabilities?
As a first-time candidate, I’ve not had the opportunity to sponsor any legislation for people with disabilities. I do have a sister with a developmental disability, and I have a special place in my heart for making sure that we are inclusive of everyone in our society — in businesses, classrooms and in government.
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?
We have not fully funded public education 18 out of the last 21 years. With literacy and learning loss being huge issues, we need to make a commitment to invest in our children. And, with health care, we have to expand Medicaid to cover more Georgians and to stop the exodus of health care providers from this state. If we do that in this next session, the state will receive billions in additional dollars that could be used to fund a number of crucial investments.
The Legislature often votes along party lines. When would you seek bipartisan action and what issues merit such consensus?
Let’s acknowledge that there’s a difference between consensus among politicians and consensus among Georgians. On the big issues, there is consensus among the people. A strong majority of Georgians want a robust public school system. Strong majorities want us to take action to reduce gun violence in our communities. A healthy majority believes that Roe v. Wade (abortion rights decision) should never have been overturned. There’s no reason that we can’t buck party lines and do what the majority of Georgians want us to do.