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: Governor
What role should government have in the lives of Georgians? How would you apply that philosophy to the job you are seeking?
Government cannot guarantee success but it should be able to provide an opportunity for all Georgians to thrive — no matter their background, zip code or access to power. As governor, I will use Georgia’s $6.6 billion surplus to invest in the fundamentals of education, health care, housing and making a good living — all without raising taxes.
If you are elected (or re-elected), what problems will you spend the most time solving and why?
Education, health care and housing are critical issues impacting Georgians in every region of the state. I am the only candidate for governor with plans to invest Georgia’s $6.6 billion surplus in the working families who need it most. I will fully fund education, raise base teacher pay to $50,000, expand Medicaid to lower health care costs for all and provide 500,000 Georgians with insurance, and tackle Georgia’s housing crisis — all without raising taxes.
Georgia is a politically diverse state. How will you work to represent Georgians whose political views differ from your own?
I define success in public service by delivering results for people regardless of their geography, ideology or background. I will serve all Georgians — not just those who agree with me. During my time as House Democratic leader, I worked across the aisle with Republicans on critical issues including education, transportation and infrastructure. My bipartisan efforts were instrumental in saving the HOPE Scholarship and pre-K as these programs faced potential elimination during the Great Recession. Additionally, I worked across the aisle with former Republican Governor Nathan Deal on criminal justice reform — which made our state more safe and just.
Who has been the biggest influence on how you view state government and politics? What have you learned from this person?
My greatest influences on how I view state government and politics are three people: former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, former Democratic Majority Leader DuBose Porter and former Republican Gov. Nathan Deal. Franklin possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of how the city functioned, which informed her political and policy strategies. I have tried to emulate that understanding at the state level. However, I also learned the limits of local control, as several of her top initiatives were nullified or curtailed Republican leadership. From Porter, I gained a deep appreciation for building coalitions across regional lines. During Deal’s tenure, I honed my firm belief in effective bipartisanship and the ability to hold onto my core values but find paths to compromise. On a range of issues, I forged strong partnerships with his administration that were not always comfortable — given my role as Democratic leader — but were essential to the function of good government.
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?
In Georgia, too many families cannot find homes to buy or rent that they can afford. Our housing affordability crisis means too many Georgians are forced to pay an excessive proportion of their income on housing. As governor, I will directly tackle the affordable housing crisis in our state and focus on the four central challenges impacting Georgians across the state: the unaffordability of homes for too many households; the shrinking inventory of housing; displacement of longtime residents due to gentrification; and the preventable tragedy of homelessness. To ensure families of all income levels can live in decent housing, I will support first-time homeowners and expand the Georgia Dream Homeownship Program, dedicate funding to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, prohibit discrimination based on source of income, and empower local governments to protect homeowners and tenants.
Politics is often about compromise. How do you decide when to compromise and take small, incremental wins, and when to refuse compromise?
During my time in the state legislature, I established a track record of working across the aisle to pass good legislation, compromise where necessary and block measures that were harmful for Georgians. I worked with members of the Tea Party to stop legislation that would have been harmful to our state’s environment. As the House Democratic leader, I worked with former Gov. Nathan Deal to pass criminal justice reform legislation. I have proven success working across the aisle to get good done on behalf of Georgians and I will build on that record as governor.
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 the founder of multiple organizations promoting and protecting the right to vote, I have demonstrated a commitment to a strong democracy in Georgia and beyond. Every eligible Georgian should have the ability to register to vote, to cast a ballot and to have that ballot properly recorded — without systematic barriers. Additionally, I have always been someone who has respected the outcome of elections and will continue to do so. Regardless of party, we must encourage a peaceful election atmosphere during the pre-election, polling, counting and post-election periods.
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 to influence abortion access or enforcement of abortion restrictions?
As governor, I will defend the right to an abortion, fight for women’s access to full reproductive health care and support healthy pregnancies. I will protect and expand the rights of women and families to make health care decisions and defend the ability of doctors to provide medical care. As governor, I will veto legislation that would further restrict abortion rights and work to repeal the six week abortion ban, fund rural hospitals through immediate Medicaid expansion, work to increase safe and affordable access to contraceptives,achieve reproductive justice for women and families, and more.
Under what circumstances would you expand Medicaid in Georgia? What would factor into your decision-making process?
Medicaid expansion would be one of my top priorities as governor. All Georgians deserve access to quality, affordable health care services to support their physical and mental well-being and to experience financial security. Georgia is one of only 12 states that has refused to expand Medicaid. More than 1.5 million Georgians lack health insurance coverage and our uninsured rate is the second-highest in the nation. When we expand Medicaid, more than 500,000 additional Georgians will have access and be able to see a health care provider without fear of medical debt, more than 60,000 new jobs will be generated in our local economies and more rural hospitals will be able to keep their doors open.
Job readiness is critical to Georgia’s economic success. How will you help Georgia workers prepare for the workforce of the future, which will require different skills?
The foundation of a thriving economy is the ability of every Georgian to find a good job and earn a decent living, take care of their families and survive a catastrophic event knowing that their government is a partner in — not an obstacle to — recovery. To ensure Georgia has a ready and trained workforce, I will restore free technical college to all Georgians, fund need-based aid and create 20,000 apprenticeships so Georgians can earn while they learn. It is also important to ensure all Georgian’s have access to opportunity. I will ensure that “Dreamers” have access to all state scholarship programs and colleges and universities. (“Dreamers” is a term often used to describe children whose parents brought them to the U.S. illegally. The term is based on never-passed proposals in Congress called the DREAM Act). I will also invest in our small businesses and create an Entrepreneurship Learner’s Permit to support first-time entrepreneurs.