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 Senate District 56
How does your background equip you for the job you are seeking?
Successful global business career working with all kinds of people from all walks. Being a servant leader in my community for decades. Understanding what intelligent leadership really means and how to practice it in something like serving the public.
What role should government have in the lives of Georgians? How would you apply that philosophy to the job you are seeking?
It’s all about public service. I’ve had roles like public school teaching and being a National Park Ranger and a Scoutmaster. It’s all about helping people, listening to their concerns, and crafting solutions that makes their lives better. You can tell when many politicians lose their way as they stop listening to anything but lobbyists. We can do better than this in serving our citizens – right now we’re at the bottom of the categories when we need to be succeeding and we’re at the top of the categories where you don’t want to be.
If you are elected (or re-elected), what problems will you spend the most time solving and why?
Expand healthcare access and affordability for all Georgians which will grow our healthcare professions, rural and disadvantaged area coverage, and repair our facilities
Deliver transit options with less asphalt lanes, more trains and bike/pedestrian connections/integration
Financially support our public-school professionals and students – funded by eliminating operational costs such as energy rental with each campus using solar as a power plant and training students to make and maintain systems
Georgia is a politically diverse state. How will you work to represent Georgians whose political views differ from your own?
We’re not that politically diverse but often reminded we are by lobbyists, large corporate interests, rent-a-reps, and the media that make money from this system. I’ll work to get large and dark money out of politics, set term limits, and attempt to get an independent redistricting process. Around the kitchen table, many of us are very much the same and we need to be reminded of that. We’re all working together to improve our lives – that’s where we all need to focus.
Who has been the biggest influence on how you view state government and politics? What have you learned from this person?
When I worked in the Reagan White House, I understood that he and I were very much the same – we both put our pants on the same way, we both ate the same way – but, I had to do this on my own. He had built up an army of people around him since his days running the State of California that did everything for him – even writing his scripts. I learned how much I didn’t want to end up like that – calling Medicare and Social Security Socialism until he realized those people voting for him were dependent on those programs. Thinking for myself, free of corporate lobby money but with the ideas and innovations of the public was the biggest gift he gave me in understanding citizens.
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?
It’s all about services – we can’t just house people without looking at the reasons they’re on the street. We need to create centers of success around veterans, women, children, out-of-work, etc. and provide them not only with safe housing but surround them with the services they need to help themselves. Some of our recent mental health funding could be used to build upon this concept. My work with indigenous people has taught me that they don’t worry about aesthetics of their communities as they seek more to help each other succeed. If we don’t help the people at the bottom of the pyramid then we haven’t achieved much – we must engage builders to take a longer-term approach to property development and support them with legislation that helps them be part of the process.
Politics is often about compromise. How do you decide when to compromise and take small, incremental wins, and when to refuse compromise?
I’m not about either/or, but about how we all win together with a focus on the citizen. As a successful businessperson and negotiator, I look to how we roadmap to mutual wins, even if incremental. I will refuse to compromise when something proposed is improperly used to divide and does not deliver what’s promised to the citizens of Georgia.
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?
As a poll worker last round, elections were the largest ever but the most available as well, but the process went well, and elections were secure. I stand by those results. Most of the problems and friction seemed to come from a lack of education about the voting process.
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 state Senate to influence abortion access or enforcement of abortion restrictions?
We’re supposed to not get in the middle of reproductive healthcare meant to be something between our medical professionals and their patients. We should work to return this part of healthcare back to those professionals and patients. As an orphan myself, I will work against any legislation that intends to punish women and medical practitioners and others for their work in delivering reproductive healthcare services. We should not tie up our public safety and legal systems in the enforcement of undue laws upon women and medical professionals. I will work to make certain that companies that have committed to provide reproductive help to their employees also help those that they may not consider eligible for services just because of their part-time or “associate” status.
Are there any programs/legislation you’ve sponsored or created to help people with disabilities?
On the diversity committee at Scouting’s National Level, I’ve helped create programs to include all young people in Scouting and to help Scouting everywhere appreciate the gifts that the disabled provide to the rest of us in learning from them, listening to them, and making use of their talents. I’ve helped craft solutions that gear group learning and achievement goals to individual and customized ones that help give these youth an equal ability to achieve success.
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?
The obvious answer for this year would be to expand Medicaid so that all Georgians have healthcare insurance – this is our largest gap with hundreds of thousands of uninsured and if we’re going to get harder on women’s reproductive health, then we need to spend on post-partum solutions to support women, children and families from our 51st position in healthcare outcomes and success. We certainly don’t invest in our teaching professionals or help make our educational systems better suited for the economic challenges and global workforce requirements. This is a time for investment in our communities and small businesses, not to reward the largest industries and companies.
The Legislature often votes along party lines. When would you seek bipartisan action and what issues merit such consensus?
As I’ve done in a successful business and non-profit career, find the commonality in positions that will help as many people as possible. I would seek to elevate bills that can be voted on by all parties, modify very partisan efforts, and question partisan efforts.