Health care is a human right. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us what happens when we don’t invest in the well-being of the people of our state - hundreds of thousands of people have gotten sick and thousands have died. The pandemic has hit communities of color especially hard with Black Georgians getting sick and dying at unacceptably high rates.
Expanding Medicaid will be one of my top priorities in office. Everyone should have access to health insurance regardless of their income or employment status. When someone you love has fallen ill, I don’t believe the first thing you should have to ask yourself is if calling an ambulance will bankrupt your family. I will fight for your right to quality, affordable health care.
I will also fight back against any efforts that attempt to take away a woman’s right to choose. Women’s health care is too often a secondary issue in the state legislature - until it comes time to take our rights away. I will do everything I can to protect and expand our power over our own bodies.
Education is the great equalizer. When public education is properly funded and supported, it gives every student the opportunity to learn, grow, and succeed. Unfortunately, Georgia’s public education system too often fails those who need that opportunity the most. Due to years of scarce funding, our teachers are overworked and underpaid. Our students are not getting the individualized care and attention they deserve. As Senator, I will commit to reinvesting in our K-12 public schools so that opportunity isn’t limited to people born in the wealthiest neighborhoods. Restoring equity to our education system is key to building a stronger future for our district and our state.
Higher education also remains closed off to many of our students due to extreme costs, even at our public colleges and universities. Changes to the HOPE Scholarship have cut out a lot of people who might otherwise thrive in college. I believe that everyone who wants to pursue a college education should have the chance to do so, which is why I will support legislation to restore the original promise of the HOPE Scholarship, one which makes college accessible to all families who couldn’t afford it otherwise.
Criminal Justice Reform
Our justice system has repeatedly failed in its mission to treat all people equally, regardless of skin color, income, or background. Being Black is not a crime but the rates of arrest, sentencing, and incarceration of Black people make it clear that our state treats it like one. Being poor is not a crime but the fact that people have to sit in jail if they can’t come up with bail money means a lack of resources becomes a lack of freedom. We must restore a sense of humanity to our criminal justice system.
There are many changes I will fight for in office to accomplish that, including eliminating mandatory minimum sentencing, and undoing the decades of overcriminalization that have made Georgia the #4 state for incarceration. Conviction should not always mean confinement - having so many people incarcerated is not only inhumane but costs the state over one billion dollars per year on prisons alone, money that could be better spent on education, health care, or any of the other critical needs facing our state.
The right to vote is under attack in Georgia. Ever since a key portion of the Voting Rights Act was struck down by the US Supreme Court in 2013, we have seen roadblock after roadblock thrown up for millions of Georgia voters. The exact-match signature requirements, the voter purges, and the lack of investment in our elections have made it harder to participate in our democracy than ever. If a single person is forced to wait 4 hours in line just to cast their vote, then our state has failed in its responsibilities to its people.
I will support legislation which expands access to the ballot box by investing more in our local county boards of education, making it easier to have your absentee ballot be counted, and implementing same-day voter registration.
I will also advocate for a fair, nonpartisan redistricting process which creates more competition in our elections instead of protecting incumbents. Following the completion of the 2020 Census, the state legislature will be tasked with redrawing the district maps to account for population movement and growth. These maps will last for a decade so it is vital that they are drawn in such a way that gives voters as much power as possible, not politicians.
There are too many people working hard every day in our state who still can’t get ahead. More than half of the country is living paycheck to paycheck and millions of people don’t have any emergency savings at all. No Georgia family should be one paycheck away from losing their home. No one should have to choose between paying for food or paying for school supplies.
Economic mobility must be possible for anyone, not just a lucky few. Unfortunately, we live in a district where it is harder to move up than almost anywhere else in the country. While metro Atlanta has grown enormously in the last twenty years, that growth has often come at the expense of communities which have been ignored and underserved for a long time.
While better access to education and health care play a major role in preserving economic security, there are some steps we can take to lift up those with the least quickly. I will support legislation to increase Georgia’s minimum wage which is currently only $5.15 an hour, much lower than the federal minimum wage. I will also use my first term in office to explore how we can increase the availability of affordable housing in our district.
Since the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges legalized gay marriage across the United States in 2015, we have seen the rights of LGBTQI Georgians come under attack again and again by state legislators seeking to score political points. There have been efforts to make it harder for non-heterosexual couples to adopt, to allow discrimination against trans youth, and the state legislature has refused to pass a state-level comprehensive nondiscrimination law which would prevent discrimination in the workplace, housing, and public accommodations for not just LGBTQI Georgians, but all Georgians regardless of race, religion, age, or gender.
I will fight hard against any attempts to roll back the hard-won rights of LGBTQI Georgians and support legislation which ensures that no one is discriminated against because of who they are or who they love.