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: Agriculture Commissioner
What role should government have in the lives of Georgians? How would you apply that philosophy to the job you are seeking?
As a small business owner myself, I believe in less government control, fewer regulations, and more free-market principles that foster economic growth and success. For nine straight years, Georgia has been named the number one state to do business in–but that can only continue to be the case if our state’s number one industry, agriculture, is successful. To do that, we’ve got to be smart about regulations, empower our family farms, agri-businesses, producers, and growers, expand the Georgia Grown program, invest in the next generation, and lower costs and prices for our farmers and consumers alike.
If you are elected (or re-elected), what problems will you spend the most time solving and why?
As Georgia’s next agriculture commissioner, I will help lower costs on food, fuel and fertilizer, champion our family and local farmers, expand on the “Georgia Grown” program, increase access to capital, invest in the next generation of farmers and new technology, strengthen the state’s food safety and food security programs, and advance our industry for generations to come. Simply put, I will work every day to ensure that all aspects of the Georgia Department of Agriculture are working for families, farmers and producers.
Georgia is a politically diverse state. How will you work to represent Georgians whose political views differ from your own?
As a seventh-generation farmer, small business owner, and state senator, I’ve had the privilege of working with and serving diverse groups of people, interests, political views and organizations for my entire personal and professional career. I’ve been immensely proud to do so. In the state senate, I’ve been able to work across the aisle effectively in a bipartisan manner to deliver results that lift every single Georgian up. As the next agriculture commissioner, I will continue that work, building partnerships and bipartisan efforts to ensure our industry is successful.
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?
Georgia’s elections are safe and secure and I will stand by the results. After the 2020 elections, we worked hard in the Senate to pass Senate Bill 202, commonly known as the election integrity bill. This bill creates a secure election process that expands access to the ballot and works to restore confidence in our process. I’m confident this election cycle will prove just that.
Who has been the biggest influence on how you view state government and politics? What have you learned from this person?
A few of the people who have influenced me are former U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, former Gov. Sonny Perdue, and former state Rep. Jay Roberts. Jay has been a great sounding board throughout my political career. Perdue has also been a mentor and major influence. As a farmer, agribusiness leader and veterinarian, his roots truly are in our agriculture industry. Lastly, I was lucky enough to get my start in politics through a fellowship with Chambliss, working specifically on federal agriculture policy while he was the ranking member of the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee. His leadership, wisdom and ability to legislate, as well as his passion for our state and the success of Georgia agriculture, were instrumental to my development and passion for service as a young college student.
Politics is often about compromise. How do you decide when to compromise and take small, incremental wins, and when to refuse compromise?
As a state Senator, I have worked closely with members of the General Assembly who have different beliefs than mine. We have been successful in passing beneficial pieces of bipartisan legislation that has helped Georgians from all walks of life. I have a proven track record of working with those who see things differently than I do, both in the state Senate and in business, as well as being able to reach solutions that benefit our state. I look forward to continuing that work as the next agriculture commissioner. While I’m always willing to work with people of different beliefs and political views, I won’t compromise on my core values and will always stay true to my principles.
As Agriculture Commissioner, you will have an opportunity to work closely with the federal government on policy. If elected, how will you use your authority as commissioner to influence federal policy and decisions?
As Agriculture Commissioner, I will work with our federal partners and congressional delegation to ensure we are delivering relief and grant money to our farmers in record time, working with them to ensure we have a level playing field and fair trade deals to keep costs low for consumers across our state, and build relationships to ensure Georgia has a seat at the table when issues arise that will impact our #1 industry. In the State Senate I have already proven to be effective in building relationships on the federal level to ensure the needs of the district I serve and the state as a whole are being addressed. I look forward to building on that success and those relationships I already have to ensure Georgia agriculture and our state continue to be successful.