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 97
How does your background equip you for the job you are seeking?
I am running to put public service back into politics and ensure that our government works for everybody. My experiences include working as a community organizer and civil rights advocate for organizations such as the Asian America Advocacy Fund, CAIR Georgia, and Georgia Muslim Voter Project. Additionally, my master’s degree in public policy and experience as a senior consultant for a professional services management company assisting government agencies and other stakeholders, has shown me how we can improve our government structures to work for all working families. These experiences make me uniquely qualify me to become a state representative.
What role should government have in the lives of Georgians? How would you apply that philosophy to the job you are seeking?
The role of government is to protect its citizens from exploitation and improve quality of life. The government should only be involved in the lives of Georgians when necessary. Whenever I consider legislation or policy matters I will consider how it will impact the lives of the people of Georgia and my community. We must prevent the government placing unnecessary burdens on the lives of everyday people while protecting the most vulnerable among us.
If you are elected (or re-elected), what problems will you spend the most time solving and why?
I want to put public service back into politics so that government works for everyone not just the few. This includes protecting the rights of Georgians and improving our quality of life. Additionally, we must repeal the state’s ban on abortion and undemocratic laws that undermine our right to vote. Finally, we must fully fund and end the dismantling of our public education system. We need to be investing in the future of our state instead of oppressing people and passing draconian laws that help no one.
Georgia is a politically diverse state. How will you work to represent Georgians whose political views differ from your own?
Not to sound like a broken record, but I truly believe in putting public service back into politics. That means I view it as my job to represent not just those who support me or agree with me politically but also those who do not. I will take into consideration input from everyone in my district as I make policy and voting decisions. Many of the issues the Legislature deals with are not partisan in nature, but ultimately even on the most divisive issues I will work to be transparent, honest, and accessible with my constituents. This includes holding regular town hall meetings, responding to emails, calls, and social media feedback, and meeting with community members and stakeholders. My goal is to be responsive and fair. My philosophy is to meet people where they are at without forgetting where I come from.
Who has been the biggest influence on how you view state government and politics? What have you learned from this person?
My political journey began on the Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter campaign. They made an effort to reach out to college students like myself at the time and showed us how to get involved politically. I don’t know if I would have taken this route politically without that original political home they gave me. But, until 2018 I assumed my place in politics would always be behind the scenes or that I could only do so much. It was Aisha Yaqoob who showed me that I could have a place in this political world while being authentically who I am. She ran in the same district I’m running in now while being authentically herself. Because of her, I truly began to see the role my community can play politically. Ironically, here I am running for office myself. I’m not sure I would have had the courage to do that without her.
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?
We need to implement housing policy that protects renters and those seeking to buy a home, along with current homeowners. We need to promote the creation of more market based housing that fits the needs of our workforce, seniors, and young families. We can create a fund to promote the development of more affordable housing and reform our rental laws to protect tenants rights. Finally, I would explore ways to protect families and first time home buyers from being pushed out of the housing market by corporations so that everyone has a fair chance at finding a home for themselves and their families.
Politics is often about compromise. How do you decide when to compromise and take small, incremental wins, and when to refuse compromise?
We cannot compromise on sacred, fundamental rights and values that make our country what it is. However, most forms of political, and legislative progress are achieved by working towards progress and incremental gains. I will listen to my constituents and work to ensure that I am voting and acting in a manner that reflects their wishes. At the end of the day, those in public service must work towards making our state the best that it can possible be for all of its residents.
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?
I want to be incredibly clear here. We can go back and forth on policy, but respecting our election results is beyond fundamental. The attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, showed us that there are people willing to threaten centuries worth of peaceful transitions of power for their own personal gain. It is one thing to suggest that policy positions prevent people from voting but it is something entirely different to prevent people who have the right to vote from voting, or worse yet threaten members of Congress with death if they do not install the person they want. Not only will I stand by election results, but I will do everything I can to make sure that people are empowered to become more civically engaged so that we can have a healthier democracy that is truly representative of all of us.
In light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on abortion, state law and local enforcement authority will determine access to abortion.
I believe in protecting reproductive choice and freedom. Reproductive healthcare, including abortions must remain accessible to the people of Georgia. Republicans have chosen to attack the rights of women and create a second class status for women in this country in light of the repeal of Roe v. Wade and the implementation of a strict abortion ban in Georgia. Women’s lives are placed at risk by this decision, and I will work to sponsor and support legislation that empowers women and ends these draconian restrictions. Our state has a maternal health care crisis, and Republicans have only made it worse.
Are there any programs/legislation you’ve sponsored or created to help people with disabilities?
While I am not a legislator yet, I look forward to sponsoring legislation that will help people with disabilities and their families. Disabled children in particular are currently left in a bind due to state policies. We can reform programs like the Katie Beckett Waiver to make it easier for those with disabilities and their families to qualify for the health care and support they need to make their lives better. I would also like to expand Medicaid in Georgia and end the policy where workers with disabilities are frequently paid subminimum wage or otherwise trapped in poverty due to tax and regulatory structures as it relates to qualifying for benefits.
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?
I believe that one of the best ways to reduce costs is by making government more efficient and reducing wasteful spending. For far too long, the Georgia budget has been used to benefit only the few. We must continue to build and maintain a strong rainy day fund to prepare for future recessions and other times of budgetary pressures so that we do not have to make deep austerity cuts that damage our state. I would like to see targeted additional spending in key areas, such as raising teacher pay to make our state more competitive and additional funds for key social services like protecting our children from abuse, neglect, and hunger. I would also like to see the state increase the homestead exemption to lower property taxes and provide an additional income tax rebate for Georgians.
The Legislature often votes along party lines. When would you seek bipartisan action and what issues merit such consensus?
Having a legislature that works toward bipartisan consensus is important. Too often we have seen Republicans use their power as the majority party to deny any input or legislative action from the Democratic party, even as Democrats work to represent their constituents and the communities they serve. In the Georgia Legislature I will strive to be an effective consensus builder because issues like strengthening our economy, reforming our tax and regulatory systems, keeping our communities safe, addressing challenges around health care and education, and improving our quality of life should not be solely partisan issues. Our state deserves the best that we can invest in it, and we owe it to our constituents to work for them instead of special interests.