Why I’m running for Georgia Senate? As I’ve been asking the community for over 15 years as a candidate for either US House or GA Senate, while there are many things on their mind, there are 3 areas that keep them from enjoying life here and, unfortunately, these problem areas for voters haven’t changed over that time. Because we don’t have people that listen to our voices, who obey only lobby money and influences from out of State. My opponents have all gone on to cushy lobby jobs. When was the last time your legislator sat down to have a talk with you or the public? Did anyone take notes or acknowledge your ideas? Do they care more for their career or Party or your needs? The three areas identified below prevent us all from enjoying life here in Georgia – Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and everyone else…there's no State-wide plan for key sectors like Healthcare, Education, Transportation, or Energy…I’m here to serve and invest in the public unlike most of our legislators…
1. Expand Healthcare Access and Reduce the Cost of Healthcare
Many Georgians wake every day knowing they’re one medical incident from losing their job, their business, their home, health insurance, and possibly even losing their lives or those of loved ones. And there are hundreds of thousands of Georgians with no health insurance because we haven’t expanded Medicaid to fill the gaps for small business, farmers, veterans, and the working poor. We pay for it as taxpayers, but our taxes go to pay other States so that their citizens have affordable access and healthy hospitals while our support system is sick and hospitals are dying. When the uninsured wait till the last minute or get transported to a hospital, we all pay for it. Most of our representatives can afford what they need so they don’t see that necessity for the average Georgian – ask them where they get their healthcare. Despite what we’re told our healthcare outcomes are at the bottom quintile of the US while costs are in the highest quintile. And when we can’t use the size of our population to negotiate lower pharma costs, we pay significantly more. The current system isn’t working as we’re beyond 20% of our home budgets for healthcare-related items and it’s trending worse. We need to exploit Federal funding to build a healthcare army that will serve our economy as well as our citizens. We need to expand affordable broadband in rural areas to provide telemedicine services. In a budget surplus year, we didn’t get a choice for where to spend our tax dollars, but we will be sent small refunds that won’t put a dent in the cost of our home budgets – this should have been the number one investment area for a surplus State, but our voice was muffled by politics.
2. Invest in Public-educated Children
The vast majority of Georgia’s children are educated in the public schools. These children represent the future of Georgia’s workforce, families, and democracy. Policymakers need to make this a top priority in the budget, not the last. Raise teacher salaries consistently to attract the best talent and professionals as many are on the cusp of retiring or leaving the profession due to all the pressures and divisiveness being hoisted on them. Overcrowding strains students and the personalization needed to help them grow. Bring more resources to add some of that personalization and quell the school-to-prison-pipeline. Some of those resources can come from parents and community leaders. Move to electric buses as fleet maintenance contracts lapse – saves money, cleans the air around young lungs. Use school grounds and roofs to build solar power plants that will displace operational costs and free up funds for student needs. Make some of the school repair and power transition into a training course for those students who may choose this career path – we need more trades taught in the secondary schools and not offsite for-pay tech schools, including new subjects on the horizon such as 3D printing, agricultural, transit and healthcare. These are professions that help move some students into trades and professions with or without the need to continue on to college.
3. Transit Options - We can’t get there from here
We’ve focused too much on asphalt and more of it won’t alleviate the congestion we all find ourselves in when going to the office, to meetings across town, to get to the airport, and to make it to activities with or without children. Atlanta has the second worst transit system in America and we need integrated traffic patterns and transit that cross boundaries of budgeting and resources. With the recent Federal infrastructure dollars, this is an optimal time to inject service, make connections, and build for a more resilient transportation system. In this district alone there are 5 or 6 transit options, none of which can cross boundaries or connect to one another. The new construction for buses inside the 400 should have been for light rail heading into the suburbs, connecting bike trails, walking paths, and key office hubs with bus transit branching out. Invest in and negotiate separate bike trails using swaths of utility transmission lines. We may need an intergovernmental effort like Denver’s transit system which made every community a beneficiary but required a cooperative investment from all. Our area’s economic attraction is handicapped by our lack and costs of transit options. Our number 1 ranking of places to do business (provided by Cobb’s Site Selection Magazine) disregards business sustainability and the heavy weighting of tax breaks in that ranking – most breaks should be clawed back to pay for services like our public schools and transportation. Our high number of business failures points to our failure to sustain small businesses critical to our communities. We must more closely monitor tax breaks with no accountability.