by Maggie Lee
October 10, 2022
The responses to these questions were edited for length and clarity by the Georgia Decides team. Each candidate was allotted 150 words for each answer and some answers were trimmed in order to abide by that length requirement. Other edits were made to make sure readers can fully follow and understand the candidate responses.
Campaigning for: State House District 90
How does your background equip you for the job you are seeking?
Being a Georgia native and living here all my life, excluding college, I have an immense love and dedication to my home state. I’ve raised my daughter in our public school system and am proud that she now makes Atlanta her home. I’ve got a stake in our beloved state. As a general contractor, real estate agent and on-air talent, I have been in countless situations where diplomacy, empathy, patience, compassion and thoughtfulness have guided my decisions. I have a deep faith in God and pray daily for wisdom and discernment. I don’t shy away from challenges and go to great lengths to see projects through. I’m tenacious in my work ethic and am a strong leader. Whether on the job site or in a conference room, I have found that if you have mutual respect for others, regardless of the various view points, a solution to any problem can be crafted together.
What role should government have in the lives of Georgians? How would you apply that philosophy to the job you are seeking?
As an independent conservative, I feel government should have as minimal a role in all our lives as possible. But some government programs are certainly needed and are designed to assist those who truly need help. Programs such as Medicaid should be provided to those who are unable work or who cannot afford health care based on their income level. Those who are able-bodied should be offered Medicaid knowing this assistance is coupled with either a work requirement, enrollment in school, or volunteering their time back into our communities. Also, small businesses, families and individuals should not be subjected to an overburdening system of regulations and taxations. I agree with the reduction of our state tax rates and would reintroduce the Fair Tax Act to help ease the burden for families, individuals, and small businesses who are feeling the crushing weight of our current inflation rate.
If you are elected (or re-elected), what problems will you spend the most time solving and why?
If elected, I would put my energies into making Georgia’s education system the best in the country. A strong educational program, starting with pre-K through high school, is the golden key to our children’s success. With so much money flowing into our state, Georgia has a great opportunity to study other state programs with high achievement rates and bring that success here for our students. There is no excuse for having poorly rated public schools when we are the No. 1 state in the country for doing business. We should strive to provide an exemplary educational program for all ages so they can thrive as adults in our great state.
Georgia is a politically diverse state. How will you work to represent Georgians whose political views differ from your own?
Georgia is becoming more and more diverse, with people moving into our state for better jobs and quality of life. Being a Georgia native, I have experienced the political shift even inside my own family. Growing up, my parents voted for Democrats like Jimmy Carter, Joe Frank Harris, Zell Miller, and Roy Barnes. Being a small business owner, my dad, and my mom, who was a nurse, felt that the policies of these men reflected those of the working man and woman. It wasn’t about party, it was policy. As I got older and started voting myself, I began to see that the working class was getting hit by higher taxes and national policy changes like NAFTA. It was then that I started voted steadily as a Republican, as did the rest of my family. I consider myself a fiscal conservative, yet I am a bit more liberal in my social leanings.
Who has been the biggest influence on how you view state government and politics? What have you learned from this person?
About the time that I started paying attention to politics, Newt Gingrich had just become speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.. He was very popular in Georgia politics and I liked his proposed “contract with America.” Two of the shining points in that contract were the required balanced budget amendment, which made it into the final document, and the amendment for term limits, which did not. Republicans, at the core of our beliefs, are traditionally fiscally responsible with budgets. I support this and that is why I support statewide audits for our big ticket, state funded programs such as T-SPLOST and E-SPLOST. I support auditing any federal funding that comes into our state to ensure proper allocation, reduction in wasteful or overlapping expenditures, and curb the mishandling of funds, if any. I also support term limits for all persons voted in as a public servant to the people.
Georgia has a lot to offer current and potential residents, but many parts of the state are becoming increasingly unaffordable. Please explain your proposed approach to address housing affordability through legislation and executive actions?
Housing, especially around the metro Atlanta area, has become all but unattainable except to a select few. If elected, I would work with local commissioners to explore options on regulating land development and land purchasing. I see many tracts of real estate being gobbled up by out-of-state hedge fund or investment organizations. This makes it nearly impossible for local first time homeowners to have any real purchasing power. Also, zoning requirements that have been on the books for a long time need to be updated. Examples of this are parking requirements, setbacks/easements, and lot size restrictions. Tax credits for renters is another option. I would explore legislation to defer property taxes for senior citizens who are over a certain age, under a certain income level and have lived in their homes for a minimum number of years. Too many elderly members of our communities are driven out of their homes by a yearly tax bill.
Politics is often about compromise. How do you decide when to compromise and take small, incremental wins, and when to refuse compromise?
Politics should only be about working for the greater good of society. It shouldn’t pick winners and losers based on what political banner you wave. And I think most people, myself included, are exhausted by the game of one-upmanship politicians play against each other while our lives and livelihoods become collateral damage. Compromise should be offered by both sides of the political aisle. It’s been said there’s not “this truth” or “that truth,” but only “the truth.” Ultimately, coming together to find “the truth” should be at the forefront of every politician’s mind. And the only path to find it is through listening, empathizing, educating, and compromising to strike that balance to serve all. Too many times politicians use policies to bludgeon their opponents when if they would just stop shouting at each other and truly roll up their sleeves and do the hard work, policies could be ironed out to reflect both Republican and Democratic influences.
There were politicians who questioned the outcomes of Georgia elections in 2018 and 2020. Do you think Georgia’s elections are secure and will you stand by the results?
I will stand by the results, but with that said, I am glad there was an investigation into what happened in this May’s primary regarding the Commissioner 2 race in DeKalb County and the voting machines. Irregularities can happen, as we saw in this race. And bipartisan action for an audit brought forth the actual intent of the voters in that district. I am in support of exploring a better, open-sourced technology for our elections, not only here in Georgia but across the country. There are sophisticated, cutting edge systems that are being developed and are in beta testing right now that would make machines like what we have in our state obsolete. And it would make access to voting easier while absolutely tamper proof. That’s a win-win for every Georgian.
In light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on abortion, state law and local enforcement authority will determine access to abortion.
While I see the wisdom in House Bill 481, my concern is that some women may not know they are pregnant by the six-week timeline. We as a society have got to come to a meeting of the minds on what is life. While I believe life begins at conception, I accept that others may not. Due to this, I support the wording in the Heartbeat bill with regard to defining an abortion, which if you read on Line 91, excludes miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies in the definition of abortion. With that said, I would extend the time frame to the cover the first 10-weeks of the pregnancy. I would also push for legislation to make birth control more accessible and affordable, if not free, for all. If Republicans want to reduce the number of abortions performed each year, then we need policies to help mothers who want to keep their babies and aid families to care for their children. We are the party of families, healthy and strong.
Are there any programs/legislation you’ve sponsored or created to help people with disabilities?
When I hear the phrase “persons with disabilities” I instantly think of our veterans. So many of our Georgia men and women have seen war, only to come home with disabilities that maybe are not so noticeable by outward appearance. Post-traumatic stress Disorder (PTSD) is one such disability that I would champion for more research, more veteran outreach and more program funding to address and give support. While I support and advocate for all our state programs for veterans, providing the essential tools and resources to specifically address mental disabilities associated with PTSD would be my personal priority.
Georgia closed out its budget year with a “likely record surplus, billions of dollars in federal aid and a growing economy.” Georgia spends more than half of this money on education and health care. What would you want to see in the budget in terms of spending or taxes?
Again as a fiscal conservative, with several billions in surplus, I would like to see an increased limit towards our state “rainy day” fund. This line item is currently capped at 15%. I would like to see us increase the contribution required by law to 20%. This would ensure Georgia has adequate funding for programs that support our state if there ever is another pandemic or recession.
The Legislature often votes along party lines. When would you seek bipartisan action and what issues merit such consensus?
I would seek bipartisan support on any issue that I could get a Democrat to meet me half way on to present to committee. We all see the problems every Georgian faces, whether it’s high gas and food prices, high interest rates, or poor performing school districts. These issues affect us all regardless of party. I dare to say, if you are running for office and all you want to do is denigrate your political opponent, the opposite party, or divide our state even further, maybe you don’t belong down at the Gold Dome. It seems you’re there for the political theatre. I want to be there to make Georgia a better place to raise a family, start a business, or retire in my old age. Leave the bickering on the sidelines. Let’s get to work in January to make Georgia the state for better education and business opportunities.