Issues

Economic Growth

Trickle-down economics sounds great, but actual experience has proven that it doesn’t work. Today, Georgia's economy provides high profits and decent economic gains - to some. But the average Georgian is barely gaining ground, stuck in place, or left out entirely. Jobs are going to Atlanta, but not to Chatham, Bryan, or Liberty counties. And why aren't the jobs coming here? Everyone can tell you that it's because our work force cannot compete. Prosperity and jobs come when we have an educated and skilled population.

To attract and retain business, there are three key ingredients: Education, infrastructure, and healthcare, whether you are looking at metro Atlanta, coastal Georgia, or anywhere in the state.

We need an economy that works for everyone. To grow Georgia’s economy, we must support innovation and diversify our jobs. We can be leaders in renewable energy jobs, infrastructure, and agritech. By educating our students in up and coming fields in engineering and science that support clean energy and sustainability, we can lead in advanced energy jobs. And by making the most of our natural resources and assets, we can build an economy for every worker. We can create good-paying jobs by investing in infrastructure, manufacturing, research and technology, and small business, as well as clean energy. I will work to promote policies that ensure pay equity and a living wage. No one working full time should be forced to raise their child in poverty. I will work to raise the minimum wage to $15 over time.

We must be sure that our workplaces never discriminate based on a person’s race, sexual orientation, gender, disability, pregnancy, or immigration status.

Education

Every child deserves a limitless future.

I am committed to extending access to high-quality child care programs for children ages 0 – 3, increasing access to pre-K, expanding after school programs, and providing improved livelihoods for teachers. We need to fully fund public education and oppose attempts to privatize our schools.

Step 1: Update Georgia’s K-1 funding formula to meet today’s rigorous standards.

Well-funded public schools help children get a good start in life. Georgia ranks 38th in the nation in school spending and invests nearly $2,000 less per student than the national average, even taking into account regional cost differences. The current funding formula is a legacy of the 1985 General Assembly and is substantially unchanged. Meanwhile, students are expected to know and do far more today than 30 years ago.

State lawmakers took an axe to public school budgets over the past 15 years, underfunding the state’s K-12 funding formula by more than $9B since 2003. This has made it hard for districts to keep class sizes down, or provide students with the extra support they need to reach the state’s education goals. We need to modernized Georgia’s rickety, outdated funding formula to the amount the today’s economy – and our children – require.

Step 2: Make university education more affordable and technical college tuition-free.

HOPE scholarships and grants are generous, but leave gaps for many students. In the University system, 70 percent of low-income students and 80 percent of black students do not receive HOPE. And adult learners and associates degree seekers are locked out of the program due to arbitrary limits. A suite of aid strategies such as work-study programs and last-dollar scholarships that cover tuition and fees left after other financial aid runs out can help make a post high-school education a reality for more Georgians.

Step 3: Increase funding for skills-training programs.

Middle-skill jobs like nursing assistant and electricians that require education beyond high school but less than a four-year degree account for 55 percent of Georgia’s labor market but only 43 percent of the state’s workers are trained to do them. Let’s put more focus on programs and apprenticeships for these types of jobs.

The Environment

As a candidate for the State Senate, I understand that the serious environmental challenges we face affect the health, prosperity, and fair treatment of all Georgians. I will promote legislation that provides safe and sustainable alternative clean-energy solutions that will protect our air, water, and land and boost economic growth. I will encourage all my constituents to take actions that reduce their carbon footprint on the planet.

I support legislation that will protect our 100-mile coastline, islands, wetlands, and waterways, as well as air quality and safe drinking water.

Everyone agrees that clean air and water are fundamental rights to be shared by all. Exercising these rights will create jobs in research, new technologies, manufacturing and construction. I will focus on promoting green job creation, clean energy generation and conservation, and solutions that lead to greater economic security, better health for my constituents, conservation of our natural resources, improvement of state and national security, and a stronger state and local economy. I support implementing a transition from fossil fuels to 100% clean, renewable, sustainable, and safe energy sources.

We should be doing everything we can to protect our environment and the residents of Coastal Georgia. We must preserve our vast coastline, sea isles, tidal wetlands, intracoastal and inland waterways, as well as their air, land and sea inhabitants. We must strengthen and enforce adherence to laws that protect these fragile ecosystems and our area residents, with swift punitive action for violators. We need to maintain funding for state regulating agencies and put the health of Georgia residents ahead of large corporations. I will fight any renewed attempts to build petroleum pipelines, and I will work to stop offshore drilling along our coastline.

Safety & Security

Statistics show that Georgians are twice as likely to be shot to death as are New Yorkers! Without trampling on our Second Amendment rights, I will introduce common sense legislation to keep weapons out of the wrong hands. Hard data also proves that poverty is a vicious generational cycle that often leads to crime, so I will fight for programs that direct resources to provide education, health services, and job training for all those who need it.

I support proposals that are just common sense and most people agree upon, including 1) Stopping the mentally ill from owning guns; 2) Having extensive background checks, including at gun shows; 3) Stopping people on watch lists from having guns; 4) Maintaining an accurate firearms federal database; and 5) Opposing the proliferation of guns in educational spaces. None of these ideas violate second amendment rights, but may help to prevent the violence caused by people who shouldn’t have them. You can’t regulate evil, but you can definitely try to disarm it.

Access to Affordable Healthcare

Healthcare is a human right, not a privilege. We must continue to fight to keep the healthcare protections we have. We need to expand Medicaid coverage, which would provide about 240,000 Georgians with health care and cut our uninsured rate in half, create 56,000 jobs, prevent closure of rural hospitals, and help stabilize rural communities. Medicaid expansion represents a $3 billion annual investment of federal dollars into Georgia and its people.

Part of building a strong economy that makes good use of everyone’s potential is ensuring people are healthy so they can contribute. People are more likely to show up to work on time, get the job done right or start a new business when they’re able to see the doctor when they get sick or access services like substance abuse treatment to get back on their feet. We need to expand health coverage so workers and entrepreneurs can see a doctor.

Georgia’s Medicaid program now provides critical access to care for about 2 million children, seniors, pregnant women, and people with disabilities, yet state lawmakers fail to tap its full benefits. Only four states today spend less per Medicaid enrollee than Georgia does, leaving many people unable to access key services. It also covers very few working-age adults, because lawmakers refused to expand the program. That leaves about 240,000 Georgians stuck in the coverage gap, where they make too little to qualify for subsidies on the marketplace and too much to qualify for Medicaid under Georgia’s strict rules. In Georgia, about 148,000 Georgians in working families would be covered by expanding Medicaid. It can also create 56,000 additional jobs each year and add over $6B to the state’s economy.

For every $1 of state money spent would draw an additional $9 from the federal government, a sound return by any measure. And using federal dollars to pay for essential health services that Georgia now pays for with state funds could also free up dollars to invest in mental health and substance abuse treatments.

Rural Georgia is struggling. Six rural hospitals have shuttered since 2013 across the state, and more than half of Georgia's remaining rural hospitals are financially vulnerable to closure.

Opioid abuse and unmet mental health needs are decimating communities statewide, exacerbated by high uninsured rates among working Georgians who simply can't afford access to care.

The problem is only getting worse. Georgia's uninsured rate of 12.9 percent is fifth worst in the country.

Georgians are already paying taxes toward closing our coverage gap, but state leaders have refused billions in federal health care dollars meant to pay for Georgians' health coverage and stabilize struggling rural hospitals.

Georgia can afford to close the coverage gap, but state leaders have so far chosen to spend tax dollars in other ways, like $309 million for insurance company tax breaks and a bargain-basement tobacco tax that, if raised, could bring in hundreds of million dollars a year.

(Source: Georgia Budget and Policy Institute)

Women’s Reproductive Rights

Every woman should have access to reproductive health care regardless of income. I believe that women should have control over their own bodies, and the best way to cut down on the number of abortions is to vote for the party that is making sure that everyone has healthcare, a high school diploma, and birth control.

Assist Veterans

The men and women who have served our nation in Iraq and Afghanistan deserve the full support of our community as they return to civilian life. Here's my two-pronged approach to help them: provide incentives for Georgia's businesses to hire veterans, and provide training to better align their skills with current business needs. Veterans want to work, and helping them find meaningful employment will sustain Georgia's current low unemployment rate.

Replace out-dated voting machines with paper ballots

We need to scrap the 16-year-old touch-screen voting system and replace it with a paper-based system. Paper ballots, used by 70% of the nation, are more secure than electronic machines because they can’t be hacked and make it possible to audit elections. Tech experts have exposed security vulnerabilities in the type of voting machines used in Georgia that could allow them to be compromised.

Voting Rights

1. Make voter registration easy and convenient through automatic voter registration and same-day voter registration.

2. Replace outdated voting machines with secure ballots with an auditable paper trail.

3. Require polling places to be open at hours convenient for voters and oppose any legislation that reduces voting time or restricts weekend voting hours.

4. Protect early voting.

5. Protect democracy by ensuring that redistricting takes place in a fair way that accounts for the size of a district’s population and its racial and ethnic diversity. In Georgia, too commonly the lines are drawn to manipulate the boundaries to predetermine the outcome of elections, hindering voters from voicing their interests through their votes.

Take Big Money out of Politics so I can fight for you.

I commit to not taking any money from corporate PACs.

- I will not take money from drug companies.

- I support limiting the amount of money special interests can spend on political campaigns.

- I will not accept money from Wall Street.

Politicians, like my opponent, accept money from special interests and don't represent you.

Accepting Corporate PAC money gives corporations and special interests more influence in government at the expense of regular people. The clearest example of this influence is the tax bill that the Republican Congress passed for the benefit of large corporations.

I'm not accepting corporate PAC money, which means I won't be paid for by corporate special interests, so I can fight to fix the system for you and your family.

Reverse FCC’s recent repeal of Net Neutrality in Georgia

The Federal Communication Commission’s recent vote to toss out “net neutrality” can limit consumer choices and hurt small businesses. Net neutrality is intended to force internet carriers to treat all content the same. Without it, companies are free to charge more for higher-speed access, giving an advantage to bigger companies. Without net neutrality, telecom and cable companies could speed up content from companies that pay more and slow down businesses that don’t, and restrict or block content.

LGBTQ Rights

I am committed to supporting equality for LGBTQ Georgians, including marriage equality and comprehensive workplace protections. I will oppose so-called "religous freedom" legislation if it discriminates against anyone based on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, immigration status, disability, or gender identity.

Criminal Justice Reform

I promise to work collaboratively with law enforcement, community partners, the legislature, and every level of our criminal justice system to protect our communities, build trust, and improve pathways to restoration. I will work to fix our broken criminal justice system that destroys communities and wastes taxpayer dollars.

• In 2015, Georgia was FIRST in the nation for the rate of people under correctional control.

• In 2016, Georgia had more people on felony probation – four times the national average – than any other state in the nation.

• In 2016, Georgia’s prison population was the fourth largest in the nation.

Policies that could help alleviate this problem include:

• End cash bail for low level offenses.

Sixty-four percent of Georgia’s jail population is presumed innocent because they haven’t been convicted. Let’s enact a state law similar to the ordinance Atlanta passed that eliminates the cash bond requirement for some low-level offenders who otherwise would sit in jail because they can’t afford bail. The change is similar to approaches adopted in cities that have already abandoned cash bail systems for people charged with some traffic offenses and nuisance offenses such as begging, urinating in public or public drunkenness. No one’s freedom should ever be denied because of the amount of money in their pockets.

• Eliminate Racial Disparities

In Georgia, Black people account for 61% of the state’s prison population but only 31% of the total state population. We must both reduce the prison population and eliminate racial disparities to achieve justice.

• Decriminalize Marijuana

The enforcement of marijuana laws disproportionately impacts people of color and remains a leading contribute to jail and prison admissions. Almost one of five drug-related jail and prison admissions in Georgia was for marijuana offenses.

• Focus on justice and rehabilitation, and not solely on incarceration.

This requires a change in prosecutorial practices.

It’s time to elect candidates who will end mass incarceration and bring real reform.