I grew up in Georgia. I love our state and I want to make sure we embrace a positive vision for our future. Many of our state lawmakers have pursued policies that are not inclusive, lack empathy, and leave people behind. The task ahead of us is great, but we must fight for every Georgia family. A few key areas of concern include:
In recent years, our state government has made tremendous progress in implementing programs and policies that attract businesses and foster economic growth. But there is still more to do to produce well-paying jobs and position us as a leader in 21st-century technologies.
Georgia’s economy may be strong, but too many families are being left behind. While unemployment is low, wages are stagnant. Georgia ranks 40th in the nation for the number of households living below the poverty line, 44th for the disparity between the highest and lowest income individuals, and 32nd for food insecurity. The impact on our children is stark. Approximately one in five children in Georgia live in poverty, one in four have parents who lack secure employment, and nearly one in three live in households where the cost of housing exceeds 30% of monthly income.
Two years ago, the Georgia General Assembly reduced the top income tax rate by 0.5%, assuming that these savings would trickle down into the economy and increase overall revenue. The reverse has happened, and we are falling short, triggering Governor Kemp to call for across the board budget cuts. As a result of these shortsighted decisions, the wealthiest among us are paying less. At the same time, the most vulnerable are shouldering the burden of cuts to services like child welfare, senior services, and mental health care. I will fight to preserve the essential services that are lifelines for working and low-income families who struggle daily to make ends meet.
Public education is the foundation of a thriving economy and an engaged citizenry. As the parent of two children educated in Georgia’s public schools, I understand the impact of under-resourced schools on quality education. We need to make sure that students across the state are prepared for success in the career they choose. That’s why I am committed to fully funding our K-12 schools.
Education doesn’t stop after high school graduation, though, and children from working families are increasingly being priced out of higher education in our state. The cost of student debt is crippling all of our futures. As your next state senator, I will work to put forward solutions that make post-secondary education affordable for all of Georgia’s students.
One place to start is protecting the Hope Scholarship. As a parent of a college student, I am familiar with the challenges that the cost of a college education puts on a working family’s budget. Gutting Hope Scholarship funding is not the solution. Without the Hope Scholarship to help offset tuition costs, the college would be out of reach for most students coming from working families like my own. That’s why I will make it a priority to fight and make sure we keep the HOPE Program funding in line with yearly tuition cost increases.
1.5 million Georgians lack health insurance putting Georgia behind most states. We must expand Medicaid and provide access to quality, affordable healthcare for all Georgians.
When it comes to maternal healthcare, Georgia is experiencing a maternal health care crisis; we rank last in the nation for maternal mortality at more than 2.5x the national average. The situation is even more critical for African American women, who are dying at twice the rate of white women in the state and six times the rate for white women nationally. We live in a state where rural hospitals are closing, and half of Georgia’s counties lack an OB-GYN. A problem exacerbated by our refusal to approve Medicaid expansion and increase regulations around women’s reproductive rights.
I remember what it was like to care for a newborn, and the challenges I faced balancing my postnatal recovery with the needs of my new baby. Adjusting to nursing, lack of sleep, and emotional imbalances seemed like a surmountable task some days. Pregnant women and new moms in Georgia already face enough stress and responsibility. Worrying about whether they can afford to see health care providers for treatment and support, or finding facilities for local care should be the least of their concerns. I strongly support efforts to extend healthcare coverage for new moms and programs to boost maternal care because the health of our state starts with healthy moms.
We owe it to Georgia’s women, their babies, and their families to do better. To address this crisis, we must make pre- and postnatal care affordable and accessible across the state, and we must end dangerous restrictions on women’s healthcare.
I believe unions are a great asset to the workforce of Georgia. As a proud union member for 24 years, I know firsthand how strong unions in Georgia provide workers the ability to have stable careers and raise their families comfortably.
Georgia’s move from unions has hurt our economy, and we’ve watched far too many jobs leave our state.
This means many families do not have access to stable incomes, living wages and job security. I will fight to expand unions in Georgia so that working families are protected.
Georgia's track record of voter suppression and poor election security is a disgrace. Over the past four years, tens of thousands of eligible voters have been removed from the rolls statewide. In 2018 Gwinnett County was ground zero for voting irregularities, with polling station wait times topping four hours and the rejection of thousands of absentee ballots. Meanwhile, our Secretary of State continues to refuse to recognize or address the voting system security vulnerabilities that have been identified by leading experts in the field.
As an African American woman, I have family members who have historically faced disenfranchisement from voting; I feel voting rights represent the essence of democracy. Voters deserve to be confident that they will not experience roadblocks at the polls and that their votes will be counted accurately and fairly. That’s why I am committed to strengthening our voter protections while working to make voting easier for everyone choosing to exercise this most sacred constitutional right.
The risk to our voting rights will be compounded by the redistricting that will follow the 2020 census. The state legislature will be tasked with redrawing political districts based on updated population counts. Often the majority party manipulates this process by creating new maps meant to preserve their power, enabling elected officials to choose their voters and reducing their accountability due to the uncompetitive nature of stacked districts. Furthermore, gerrymandering often has the effect of diffusing the voting power of communities of color. As your next senator, I pledge to support legislation that would create an independent, nonpartisan redistricting commission that would end partisan gerrymandering and put the power of this critical component of democracy back into the hands of our citizens.
Investments in infrastructure are fundamental to economic growth in our state. We can't let these vital systems fail to keep pace with the rapid growth in our district. Many Georgians need relief from stressful daily commutes so that they can spend less time on the road and more time at home with their families. We need a transportation plan that works for everyone. I will fight for job-creating investments in roads, transportation solutions, and other essential infrastructure to strengthen our economy for years to come.
Our fight against climate change could be the most significant economic driver since World War II. As a parent, I am concerned about the future of our planet for my children. I will push for policies that preserve Georgia’s beauty while also strengthening our economies, like incentives for alternative energy solutions and telework options that get cars off the road.
My family has deep roots in Georgia, lived through the terror and indignity of the Jim Crow era, and proudly participated in the Civil Rights movement. While much has changed even in my lifetime, racism and discrimination is still a problem in our state, not just for African Americans, but also for religious, sexual, and other racial and ethnic groups.
Georgia is one of only three states that does not have a civil rights bill providing legal protections in employment and public accommodations against discrimination due to race, religion, color, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, among other factors. It is time for Georgia to stand up and protect the civil rights of all of its citizens by passing comprehensive civil rights legislation.
Hate crimes are on the rise in Georgia, growing nearly 30% from 2017-2019. Today, Georgia is home to 41 radical hate groups, an increase of nine since 2017. Yet we are one of only four states that do not have a hate crimes law on the books. Hate crimes seek to terrorize not only the victims but also their communities; hate crime legislation demonstrates a societal commitment to confronting criminal activity motivated by prejudice. As your next Senator, I am committed to supporting a hate crimes bill in Georgia.