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 51
How does your background equip you for the job you are seeking?
I earned a Master of Business Administration degree and have a career in technology and finance, in both management and board positions. This has prepared me to lead, create practical, useful products and services, drive out excess costs and make services more widely available. In business, we learn to build agreement and support for our positions to accomplish our goals. While we don’t always agree, we try to avoid creating adversaries.
What role should government have in the lives of Georgians? How would you apply that philosophy to the job you are seeking?
I’m more of a minimalist as it applies to the role of government, with a preference for mandated public services to be delivered by local government over state and federal government, when both practical and possible. While we have public participation in a number of areas, security and public safety is job No. 1 for government in order to protect and secure the rights of our citizens. Where we share public responsibilities and services, I believe it’s best practice to fund management and delivery as close to constituents as possible.
If you are elected (or re-elected), what problems will you spend the most time solving and why?
Public safety is foundational. We need to discourage the prevalence and spread of crime. When our neighborhoods and cities are not perceived as safe, it discourages and inhibits all other activities, including private investment. We also need to find solutions and treatments for the burgeoning mental health crisis. Our streets, county jails and state prisons are not appropriate venues for housing and addressing this growing public problem. Education is foundational. Our public schools must be focused on skills building and student achievement, respecting parental and family rights for teaching personal values. Our children will soon become adults and we have a responsibility to prepare them with life skills. Fostering opportunities for school choice is a top priority. Continuing to create conditions for our successful regional economies is critical to Georgia’s success. Streamlining regulations, keeping energy prices relatively lower than other states, and addressing the needs of both small and large businesses creates opportunities for growth and success in the future.
Georgia is a politically diverse state. How will you work to represent Georgians whose political views differ from your own?
Exemplify respect and civility toward all others. We can work together where we can find agreement. And there is a difference between an opponent and an adversary. A most important initiative will be to cease the constant personal attacks and focus on practical solutions to problems. Personalities come and go Precedents, good and bad, tend to endure much longer.
Who has been the biggest influence on how you view state government and politics? What have you learned from this person?
I have worked with several current and former people in both elected positions and our bureaucracy. That said, it is my father-in-law, a hall of fame coach and premiere national educator that most influenced my approach to leadership and creating successful, winning teams. Humans are fallible, and accountability needs to be paired with responsibility. I’ll bring decades of his wisdom and thoughtfulness into the state House if elected.
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?
Legislation is the way to address this problem, and specifically we need to appreciate the impact of development on city, county and state service requirements. We can control the costs of shrinking county responsibilities by increasing homestead exemptions. We can encourage lower rents, which most impacts young people, families and seniors by extending a form of residential exemptions to commercial landlords. Most of all, encouraging greater supply of housing limited to higher density districts (where local government agrees), along with communications and transportation infrastructure, will help control the upward trajectory in housing prices.
Politics is often about compromise. How do you decide when to compromise and take small, incremental wins, and when to refuse compromise?
This concerns our shared priorities. What is foundational? On our rights as citizens of Georgia and the United State, there is little room for compromise. As it concerns addressing discretionary priorities, such as when we can find a most acceptable consensus, there is room for compromise. Our election integrity law of 2021 is a good example. While there were calls for far greater controls, the law provides for more identity security of absentee ballots, authorized and secured drop boxes, and provided a clearer path to resolve disputes. If we are all interested in building confidence and trust in the electoral process, this was a significant first step.
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?
It’s very clear that our registered voter rolls are imperfect, absentee ballots in certain counties have lacked identification controls and certain county operations performing adjudication and duplication violated codes requiring bipartisan panels and unique, personally traceable password controls. Furthermore, the duplication process has opened the entire ballot, once questioned, to wholesale changes across all races, not just the ones requiring adjudication. Our experience in one DeKalb contest in May 2022 revealed a significant difference between the initial machine count and a subsequent hand count which changed the result. Looking forward, Georgia is more secure in 2022 than it was in 2018 or 2020. As a legislator, I will contribute to efforts that increase transparency, accountability, trust and confidence in the process and results — without regard to partisan outcome. We all want a fair referee. Our representative democracy requires this.
In light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on abortion, state law and local enforcement authority will determine access to abortion.
There are legitimate problems with Georgia’s current law governing access to abortion. There is also a lot of blatant misinformation spread by political ads that suggest women seeking or having a procedure have the potential of being criminalized. This is patently untrue. Between banning abortion altogether and infanticide on the other, there is a line we can draw that makes the discretionary procedure available to those who want it. There are practical corrections to our current law that we should make that address issues of rape and incest. There could be adjustments that allow women more time once they determine they are pregnant. The life of the mother and viability of the pregnancy and fetus have primacy.
Are there any programs/legislation you’ve sponsored or created to help people with disabilities?
Our experience with disabling mental illness and the impact on family and broader society provided an opportunity to contribute to the effort to pass a more practical Mental Health Bill in 2022.
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?
Returning dollars to taxpayers is by far the best way of managing surpluses, after reserves are taken for leaner years. Zero-based budgeting and program sunset provisions will allow Georgia government(s) to impose lower taxes. Projects that provide well-defined economic and social returns might be considered. Georgia is very limited in the manner in which treatment for mental illness and certain disabilities are managed and treated. As a result, we are using our county jails and state prisons as a most expensive solution for near permanent and inhumane housing. For much of this population, treatment and education would allow them to lead more productive lives. Our current “crescent” of psychiatric hospitals are all focused on acute, short term care. We should explore improvements to our behavioral health system — if only to spend less on our criminal courts, jails and prisons. Of course, it would also be far more humane and appropriate for those Georgians who suffer from these illnesses.
The Legislature often votes along party lines. When would you seek bipartisan action and what issues merit such consensus?
Having discussed this with thousands of Georgians, public safety, energy, food and housing costs, and effective public education are universal issues. These are not partisan objectives. Most of us agree on the goals. I will work with all toward pragmatic solutions when we can agree on the ultimate, well defined objective that serves the interests of most Georgia citizens.