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: US House Georgia District 5
How does your background equip you for the job you are seeking?
I always center those most marginalized because I’ve lived on the margins of society. As a Black woman from the Deep South, I’m used to people trying to silence me. Before I came to Congress, I worked for Planned Parenthood Southeast protecting reproductive freedom. In that time, not a single piece of anti-choice legislation became law in Georgia, Alabama, or Mississippi. I am also the first Black woman to chair the Democratic Party of Georgia. In the 2020 election I successfully led our work to deliver not one but two U.S. Senate seats and turn Georgia blue for the first time since 1992. We were successful by building multi-racial coalitions across the state and talking to voters about the issues that mattered most to them. These are the lived experiences I take with me to Congress and the perspective needed to be an effective advocate for the people of Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District.
What role should government have in the lives of Georgians? How would you apply that philosophy to the job you are seeking?
The government is here to help and serve people. I grew up in rural Alabama in a house with no indoor plumbing or running water. There were times where we had to rely on the government for help getting food. These are the lived experiences I take with me to Congress where I uplift those most marginalized. I hear every day from constituents who tell me exactly what help they need from Congress. I have an obligation to reach back and support the people however I can. The more we invest in our communities the more we get back.
If you are elected (or re-elected), what problems will you spend the most time solving and why?
I will continue the work I have focused on in the 117th Congress. Atlanta still has the widest racial wealth gap in the country and I will keep working on economic empowerment for everyone, with a clear focus on increasing quality, affordable housing opportunities. I’ve also led Congressional efforts on student debt relief. President Biden’s announcement to cancel some student loan debt is only the first step for me. I will keep pushing for additional student debt relief, including additional debt cancellation.
I will also continue the work to protect and expand our voting rights. The former president and the events of Jan. 6, 2021, proved that our democracy is fragile. Not only do we need to protect everyone’s voice at the ballot box, we must make sure our democracy truly represents the voice of the people. That is especially true when it comes to providing a check on an extremist Supreme Court, which stripped away our right to essential healthcare services, including abortion. The Supreme Court does not have the final say in our country—the people do. And the people have made their voices heard loud and clear: we need federal law guaranteeing access to abortion. One issue I tackled is the loophole in the 13th Amendment that still allows for slavery. I am bold enough to think I can amend the Constitution and I led the bill to close that loophole. I have hundreds of bipartisan cosponsors and I will keep working to get this legislation across the finish line.
Georgia is a politically diverse state. How will you work to represent Georgians whose political views differ from your own?
In Congress, I am known for working with a wide range of constituents, stakeholders, and legislators of both political parties to find paths forward to progress. I meet people where they are and take input seriously. I will not compromise my values, which are rooted in centering those most marginalized, but I will work with anyone who is serious about making life better for the people of Georgia’s Fifth District.
Who has been the biggest influence on how you view state government and politics? What have you learned from this person?
Congressman John Lewis was my friend, mentor, and predecessor. I will always cherish the time we spent together. Congressman Lewis’ entire life was a lesson for everyone. He showed us all how to dedicate yourself to protecting everyone’s rights. I remember working with him to protect voting rights and access to abortion, and on so many other critical issues. While I can never fill his shoes, I can carry the torch after he showed me the way. And every day in Congress I am building on his legacy.
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 federal legislation and executive actions?
Growing up I didn’t have much, but one thing I always had was a roof over my head, so I know just how important it is to have safe, dignified housing for everyone. I’ve supported critical legislation to expand access to affordable, safe housing — in areas where people want to live. I hosted HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge in September 2021 when we toured a new affordable housing development to show how the Fifth Congressional District is getting it right on housing. I’m also supporting efforts to increase access to homeownership because homeownership is crucial to building generational wealth. I also support efforts that increase the construction of more affordable housing units because there is a severe nationwide shortage of affordable housing.
Politics is often about compromise. How do you decide when to compromise and take small, incremental wins, and when to refuse compromise?
A good legislator compromises in negotiations, but does not compromise their values. I negotiate when it means achieving tangible progress for those I serve, but I will not compromise what I am in Congress to do, which is to uplift marginalized communities and ensure no one is left behind.
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?
There are not two sides when it comes to this issue: you are either on the side of democracy or you are not. It is our duty to stand by free and fair elections, and that includes standing against baseless claims about election fraud. That is especially important when these claims are used to justify voter suppression laws designed to silence voters who look like me. Your free and fair access to the ballot box should not be determined by your ZIP code. We need a national standard for voting so that everyone knows their voice will be heard.
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 in the U.S. House to influence abortion access or enforcement of abortion restrictions?
It is entirely a personal choice to decide if, when, and how to have a family. Throughout my career, I have fought to protect that right and I am not stopping now. My constituents call, write, text, stop me on the street — you name the communication method — to tell me to keep fighting to protect their access to essential healthcare, including abortion. I will continue working to pass legislation that protects the right to abortion.
The U.S. Congress often votes along party lines. When would you seek bipartisan action and what issues merit such consensus?
When asked this question I always paraphrase James Baldwin. I will work with anyone so long as our disagreement is not grounded in your denial of my fundamental humanity. I have Republican cosponsors on a majority of the bills I have introduced, and I have worked closely with some Republicans to advance critical legislation, including the Abolition Amendment, the Care is an Economic Development Strategy Act, and the John Lewis Civil Rights Fellowship Act.