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 35
How does your background equip you for the job you are seeking?
The most important aspect of my background that would guide me as an elected official is my experience helping to raise a family. In addition, I have been blessed with vast and deep professional experience. I began as a classically trained chef who specialized in opening restaurants and hotels. I spent nearly two decades advising Georgia elected officials on public policy. Today, I am a small business owner, consultant and commercial real estate agent. My diverse background gives me the ability to understand the challenges that face Georgians. Whether you’re an entrepreneur trying to make payroll or an entry level employee trying to pay rent, I have been there and worked my way through it. As a legislative staffer under the late Tom Murphy (former speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives), I learned how to craft good policy and what it takes to get bills passed.
What role should government have in the lives of Georgians? How would you apply that philosophy to the job you are seeking?
The preamble of Georgia’s Constitution spells out very clearly how the state should be governed and the questions we should ask ourselves as legislators. It reads, in part: “To perpetuate the principles of free government, insure justice to all, preserve peace, promote the interest and happiness of the citizen and of the family, and transmit to posterity the enjoyment of liberty . . .” As a bill is proposed, I would ask whether the legislation and its consequences meet the preamble’s quest as outlined. If it does not or runs afoul of these standards, my first inclination will be to vote against the legislation.
If you are elected (or re-elected), what problems will you spend the most time solving and why?
I will be most focused on how the Georgia Legislature can bring relief to our citizens and creates an environment for prosperity. If families cannot afford to put food on the table or gas in their cars, all other issues become secondary. The top of those secondary issues includes making sure no community leaves their citizens unsafe by defunding police and eliminating bail, empowering parents to be fully engaged in their children’s education and reducing stifling regulations on Georgia’s businesses. These are foundational principals that we must address immediately.
Georgia is a politically diverse state. How will you work to represent Georgians whose political views differ from your own?
I will work to find common ground. It has always been my belief that all voices should be heard and respected. In the era of cancel culture I am still hopeful that we can engage in civil discourse civilly. Since early spring, I’ve made it my mission to knock on every door in House District 35. I’m meeting Georgians from all backgrounds and with a broad spectrum of beliefs. Once elected, my door will be open to all who wish to express an opinion or idea. I will work to build trust with those who disagree with me, so that while we may not be able to overcome our differences on one issue, that does not mean we cannot work together on the next one. Through finding similarities, much more can be accomplished, and better legislation can be achieved.
Who has been the biggest influence on how you view state government and politics? What have you learned from this person?
I have learned so much and taken lessons from all the legislators I worked with during my nearly 20 sessions under the Gold Dome. I have learned to listen to understand — not to respond, to be truly prepared before I engage, to know that some will attack good ideas by attacking me personally and I do not have to respond. I have learned, while I will not compromise my core principles, compromise and incremental change is a victory and should be celebrated.
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?
I believe in home rule, which means that local governments get to decide on policies regarding housing in their communities. I also believe in the free-market and know that the market drives housing prices. What we are seeing now in terms of the skyrocketing cost of living and runaway inflation is the direct result of failed policies coming from Washington, D.C.
Politics is often about compromise. How do you decide when to compromise and take small, incremental wins, and when to refuse compromise?
It is easy for those not engaged in the process to call compromise a dirty word. The fact is, no party, let alone legislature, is so homogenous. It is only through conversation and compromise that legislation is passed. In my experience with legislators in both the majority and the minority, I have learned that we must be open to compromise, but we can do so without betraying our core principals. The question of when I will compromise requires an understanding of real-world details and is not worthy of speculation. As they say, “the devil is in the details,” so I will not venture to speculate when I might compromise on an issue.
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 as secure as they can be. Unfortunately, human corruption and error has always existed, and I have seen questionable election results since I first voted 30+ years ago. To suggest or imply this is a new issue is not accurate. Georgia elections are only as secure as the people who run them, oversee them, and work them. We must be vigilant about those we allow to have access to our process, ballots, and machines. I believe Georgia has done the best we can with the tools and staff we have, but I also suggest that more citizens need to take an active role in elections as poll workers, poll monitors and the other integral jobs that are so desperately short staffed
In light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on abortion, state law and local enforcement authority will determine access to abortion.
I plan to represent the interest prosperity of the state of Georgia. Until we have enough empirical data, we do not know the actual effect of the current law as passed. When voter ID was passed, the press and others predicted many problems that turned out to be imagined and never came to anything more than headlines and press hits. It is the law, and I hope that all those sworn to uphold and prosecute all laws will do their jobs. If they refuse, I believe it is the obligation of the state to step in and enforce and prosecute any law that local jurisdictions ignore.
Are there any programs/legislation you’ve sponsored or created to help people with disabilities?
As I have not been an elected official previously, I have not sponsored or created any such legislation.
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 state budget should make sure the funds are there to protect and serve the citizens of Georgia. The state must make sure that law enforcement has access to the best training and equipment. We should also ensure the judicial branch, including public defenders are fully and fairly funded statewide. It is a great responsibility to take someone’s freedom, even if they deserve it. The state must ensure that all accused are given adequate counsel and resources if they are truly indigent.
The Legislature often votes along party lines. When would you seek bipartisan action and what issues merit such consensus?
I will always seek bipartisan action on any law that impacts Georgia’s citizens.