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 107
How does your background equip you for the job you are seeking?
I am running for my fourth term in the Georgia House of Representatives. As a legislator and attorney, I have the experience, skills, and passion to serve and advocate for my constituents and district. As Chair of the Gwinnett State House during redistricting, I have a strong record of working in an inclusive and transparent manner to build a diverse coalition, and have demonstrated fearless resolve and a willingness to call out government overreach into local matters, and partisan power grabs. As a Deputy Whip, I have fought bad legislation such as efforts to loosen gun safety laws and undermine the right to vote, and I have worked across the aisle to pass bipartisan legislation on issues that touch upon healthcare and the economy.
What role should government have in the lives of Georgians? How would you apply that philosophy to the job you are seeking?
I believe that government should be used as a tool to invest in and improve the lives of Georgians as provided for in the preamble of Georgia’s Constitution. I would apply my understanding of the role of government with pragmatism and common sense. If something is broken or not working, I would seek evidence-based public policy solutions to fix or address the issue. Similarly, if something is not broken or working just fine, I would seek to preserve the status quo. I believe more pragmatism and less ideology in public policy and government, will benefit all of us.
If you are elected (or re-elected), what problems will you spend the most time solving and why?
If reelected, I will continue to work on addressing Georgia’s health care challenges because that remains one of our biggest unmet needs. While we have made incremental progress, much remains to be done. Medicaid expansion remains good public policy, as demonstrated in 38 other states. Covering our uninsured population would reduce the billions of uncompensated health care costs that have forced so many hospitals in Georgia to close, and expand access to preventative care that will improve health outcomes in a fiscally responsible manner. Much work remains to be done to decrease maternal and infant mortality. We need to work on improving the finance and delivery of long-term care given our rapidly aging population; strengthen our public health system in preparation for the outbreak of infectious disease; end the HIV epidemic or decrease new HIV diagnoses by 90% by 2030; and address childhood trauma and mental health issues of students and youth.
Georgia is a politically diverse state. How will you work to represent Georgians whose political views differ from your own?
I believe that we have more in common than that which divides us. I welcome spirited debate in furtherance of shared objectives to improve the lives of Georgians, and I am open-minded as to what public policy solutions work best for those we serve. Listening to people and seeking to understand their perspective is an essential and necessary step toward finding shared values and common ground to help bridge the divide.
Who has been the biggest influence on how you view state government and politics? What have you learned from this person?
In 2012, I interned for Stacey Abrams who opened wide the doors of opportunity for me, and helped me begin my path into public service. The first lessons she taught me was to do no harm and to serve others. By her example, she taught me that leadership in government is about using the power you have to be a voice for the voiceless and to help those in need. Stacey also taught me to be fearless in being my authentic self because it will help break barriers, create space for others, and help harness our full diversity in service to our Democracy and community. Stacey has inspired me to dream big and fight hard as a servant leader.
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 take a comprehensive approach on housing by addressing issues from homelessness to home ownership. To begin, that requires reforming Georgia’s eviction laws with common sense solutions such as requiring notice and an opportunity to cure before proceeding with an eviction. Along with initiatives to provide support and training to help folks become self-sustainable homeowners, I would be interested in looking at subsidies the state could provide to incentivize the building of affordable housing units or at public private partnerships to address this growing need.
Politics is often about compromise. How do you decide when to compromise and take small, incremental wins, and when to refuse compromise?
As a general matter, I am more inclined than not to compromise if it results in meaningful progress. Incremental progress is progress nonetheless. Every issue and potential legislative deal is different, however, so I think an individualized approach needs to be taken in which one should weighs the costs and benefits of a proposed deal to determine whether to accept a compromise or not.
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?
Yes, I believe Georgia elections are secure and I will stand by the results. I also believe that intentional efforts to suppress the vote, racial and partisan gerrymandering, and unlimited amounts of money have a corrosive and harmful impact on our democracy by undermining the power of voters to determine their future. Accordingly, we should seek to strengthen our democracy by expanding access to the ballot box, establishing an independent redistricting commission, and take money out of politics. Further, I believe we should work in a bipartisan manner to improve how we conduct our elections that expand access and increase security as there is always room for improvement.
In light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on abortion, state law and local enforcement authority will determine access to abortion.
I fought hard to defeat Kemp’s six-week abortion ban that strips away a woman’s right to choose; her liberty and freedom along with her bodily autonomy. If re-elected, I will work hard and support efforts to restore women’s freedom, and I will fight against any further governmental encroachment on women’s fundamental rights.
Are there any programs/legislation you’ve sponsored or created to help people with disabilities?
Yes, I introduced legislation to create a family caregivers tax credit to help family caregivers cover expenses for taking care of another family member with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, using the restroom or eating. Qualified caregiving expenses include expenses for personal care services and improvements or alternations to the qualifying family member’s primary residence that permit the qualifying family member to remain mobile, safe and independent.
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 would like to see Georgia’s surplus invested in a long-term comprehensive manner to ensure all Georgians have access to healthcare by expanding Medicaid; increase educational opportunities from early childhood development and universal pre-k to teacher pay raises from K-12 and after school programs; to needs based scholarship for higher education; accelerate the transition to renewable energy sources and sustainable infrastructure; and improve our infrastructure, broadly defined, from affordable housing to transportation and access to broadband.
The Legislature often votes along party lines. When would you seek bipartisan action and what issues merit such consensus?
Most of the legislation I have voted on during my six years of service in the Georgia House of Representatives had bipartisan support. Usually the big legislative initiatives require bipartisan support such as the comprehensive mental health reform legislation passed earlier this year or comprehensive adoption reform enacted a few years ago. As a general matter, I normally try to build bipartisan consensus as that is necessary to pass or stop legislation. And, of course, any efforts to amend the Georgia Constitution along with local legislation regarding homestead exemptions, and other legislative matters that require two-thirds of the House and Senate, will require bipartisan consensus.