First, WHY I'M RUNNING
I'm running to represent families and individuals who believe in being kind, compassionate and welcoming toward others. I'm running to represent parents who work full-time yet struggle to pay ever-increasing bills while also saving for retirement. I'm running to represent children who don't have a voice in government but whose future is in our hands. I'm running to represent patients unable to leave their hospital rooms to lobby their elected representatives for healthcare reform. I'm running to represent responsible business owners who work hard every day to support their families, their employees and their communities. I'm running to affirm the American ideal of government as "we the people," and in order to do that, we need a government that reflects the diversity of thought and life experiences that exist in our communities but not in our current class of elected officials. I'm running to represent you and to listen to the needs of the residents of Gwinnett and Fulton counties.
Georgia must provide a pathway to affordable, life-saving health services and prescription drugs for hundreds of thousands of its lower- and middle-income workers and self-employed small business owners. This is a matter of life, death and disability for our friends, family and neighbors, and it requires our immediate action.
We can start by closing the Medicaid coverage gap and returning up to $3 billion per year in tax revenues back into the pockets of hard-working Georgians — money that’s instead going to the 32 other states, like New York and California, and the District of Columbia that have chosen to expand healthcare access. That increased investment in our state would also create up to 56,000 good-paying jobs in the healthcare industry that can’t be shipped overseas.
Next, Georgia should join the majority of other states in creating a state-based individual health marketplace that helps families and small businesses access affordable health and dental insurance, just like MassHealth in Massachusetts, Kynect in Kentucky and Covered California.
I support keeping public money in public schools, including a limited number of public charter schools, which are approved by the county and subject to quality control by the state. I am opposed to diverting public money into private or religious schools, especially as the latter may violate the First Amendment. Furthermore, advocates of private and religious schools should reject taxpayer money being reallocated to their schools, as that would subject them to increased government regulation.
While the term "school choice" elicits passions and fury on both sides of the debate, there is an example of school choice in House District 95 I believe we can all emphatically support. In 2018, our community will celebrate the opening of the Paul Duke STEM school, which will allow students to choose between attending a more traditional campus like Norcross High School or a more technology-centered curriculum offered by the STEM school. This type of school choice doesn’t take money away from public education but does introduce diversity into the public education system. I'd like to see more of that type of school choice, including more computer-based and distance-learning programs to accommodate students with different learning styles and language abilities. We also need to reinstate and fully fund the talented and gifted programs.
Atlanta is long overdue for a comprehensive strategy to combat our unsustainable traffic problems, which can only be solved through local and regional infrastructure coordination. By expanding high-capacity rail, rapid bus transit, the Beltline and other transportation alternatives, we can improve the quality of life for Atlanta’s five million residents, students and commuters, both now and for generations to come. The disastrous I-85 bridge collapse, which effectively isolated large portions of north Atlanta from vital downtown services, should serve as an example of why expanded, diverse and functional mass transit options are essential.
Investment in public transportation can also positively impact the environment, property values, job creation and tourism. If Atlanta wants to be able to keep and attract talent and resources, we must compete with other major cities like New York and Boston which offer robust public transportation options.
Reproductive rights are a constitutionally settled issue. The medical decisions surrounding pregnancy should be made solely and confidentially between a woman and her doctor and are of no business to anyone else, especially the government. It is unfortunate that in 2018 politicians are still debating whether or not adult human beings should have agency over their own bodies.
Furthermore, as a public health matter, I support the expansion of access to reproductive healthcare (including Planned Parenthood), age-appropriate sex education, sexual assault awareness and prevention, and birth control options in order to empower individuals and families to make informed and responsible choices about their bodies.
Voters should pick their elected officials and elected officials should not be picking their voters — but that's exactly what's happening right now in Georgia.
Our entire democratic process is based on the idea that each person should get a vote and that vote should count equally to another person's. A huge part of this concept is drawing voting districts fairly.
Following the 2020 Census, it will be necessary for state legislatures all over the nation to redraw the district boundaries for federal and state elections. Gerrymandering is when one party re-draws district lines to where they are packing their voters into contested districts and breaking up their opponent's voters in order to dilute their votes.
In Georgia's history, both political parties are guilty of this. That is why we must take this power out of the hands of partisan legislatures and place them in the hands of an independent, non-partisan commission. This is the only way we are going to get back to a world with fair elections.
Guns do not belong on school campuses, except in the hands of professionally trained security personnel. Investing in greater security, technology and community engagement will do more to curb violence in schools than arming students or faculty. The increased availability and presence of guns dramatically increases the amount of injuries and deaths for everyone, not just criminals. It is essential — for the protection of all — that those who carry weapons inside of our public institutions meet a higher standard of competency than the current concealed carry licensing laws in Georgia require, which merely entails fingerprinting and a background check, as opposed to other states which require training, safety and proper storage education.
Our country is founded on the principle that all men and women are created equal. As a fundamental element of human rights, all people deserve equal protection under the law and equal standing for reception of products and services.
"Religious freedom" bills, which routinely arise in the Georgia legislature, have nothing to do with religion or freedom — it is an attempt to legalize discrimination against the LGBTQ community, while permitting the government to insert itself into the role of religion. Let us not forget that, in the mid-twentieth century, Jim Crow laws, which were steeped in the "religious freedom" narrative, were also used to justify banning people of color from lunch counters, hotels and other places of public accommodation. Looking back, it's obvious now how wrong that was, but that same justification is now being reintroduced to discriminate against more members of the community for their immutable characteristics. We must protect our friends, family and neighbors against mean-spirited and unconstitutional discrimination by our government, in the marketplace and in places of employment.
First and foremost, I believe that the Congress of the United States needs to do its job and create a legislative fix for the issues facing people who were brought here as minors. This applies both to the DREAM Act and DACA — both being programs which temporarily address this issue.
If a person robbed a bank with a five year old, we would not charge the five year old with bank robbery. These children came to the United States through no choice of their own. Thus, they fall into a legal gray area. It’s times like these that we must bring our values into the discussion in determining a course of action.
Dreamers have lived here, in the US, for all of their professional lives, and many of them throughout school. They work here. They learn here. They pay taxes here. Their families are here. They are American in everything but a technicality. On the practical side, these people are thriving members of their communities that we have spent time and expense to educate and train. Why would we send that talent away for another country to benefit when we need people like them in our own communities?
Until the federal government provides a permanent solution to this problem, the burden will fall to state and local governments to determine how to handle cases and issues. Our state would be remiss to push people out of their jobs, schools and communities — to say nothing of heartless, as well. We would do serious damage economically and socially by trying to deport Dreamers. As such, while their status is in limbo, we at the state level need to treat them as we would treat our own children by ensuring that they can both thrive and contribute to our communities.