I was approached by Kellie Collins for an endorsement in her local State Election in Georgia. I liked her a lot, but felt like I needed some more information about what she was passionate about, why she decided to run against Republican Incumbent, Jody, Hice, and more importantly, why she thought she would be a good representative for her local Georgia government. What follows is an interesting question and answer session where I got to know Kellie and found out how I could help her campaign. My questions appear in pink...of course.
First off, I really want to thank you for giving me some time today to answer my questions, because I am really excited about your campaign and getting to know you better as a candidate! What made you decide to run for local political office in the first place?
I have always tried to help my community through my lifetime, but I had a bit of an epiphany when the 2016 election showed how little the public voice is heard (especially in the US House of Representatives) by our elected government. I started feeling as if someone should stand up and speak out against it. Jody Hice, my upcoming opponent, ran uncontested in 2016, so he had no incentive to ensure that he would listen to his constituents and govern based on their needs and wants. Instead, it seems as if he governs for a select group of people that share his very narrow views and goals instead of for the entire district as a whole, which seems to contradict the basic ideas of American democracy.
Have you always been local to District 10 in Georgia and if so, why is this important for a Representative?
I was born and raised in and around Thomson, GA , and have spent most of my adult life living in the 10th District as well. Although I have lived outside of the district for short periods, I find that my friends and family always draw me back to the community. That personal connection is a symbol of the trust I hope to build with the constituents; my goal over the next 20 months is to meet as many of the 10th District residents as possible and discuss how issues affect each person individually. I believe that my first-hand experience with the exact same trials and tribulations facing the public allows me to make decisions based on whether it benefits them or not. When your friends and family are depending on you to make ethical decisions that affect their lives for many years, a member of Congress should hold her or himself to a much higher standard than the bare minimum that many GOP members are currently using as a benchmark. My opponent did not grow up in the district; he grew up in Tucker, GA, which is in Dekalb County. How can he claim to truly represent people that he has no real connection with when he only moved to the district to run for office?
What are the things that would be priority for addressing in your District, should you be elected?
First, I want to make sure that healthcare is provided for all residents of Georgia District 10 and not just “access” to healthcare, which does not help anyone who cannot already afford it. The health savings accounts (HSA) option that has been advanced by the GOP assumes that people have extra disposable income to deposit into these savings accounts and offers no real assistance.
Next, I want to improve the quality of education at public schools in the district instead of eliminating the Department of Education. My opponent recently co-sponsored a U.S. House bill to do just that. We need to think outside the box and be open to ideas like partnering up with technology and software companies to create updated curriculums for the new millennium and equip our students for the global economy that awaits them.
Another important issue is creating jobs in the district that provide an actual living wage for the residents. That doesn’t mean the type of “wage slavery” job where people work 40 hours a week and still have trouble making ends meet at the end of each month. I want to encourage farmers in the district to grow switchgrass and sugarcane for biodiesel applications while encouraging solar and biodiesel production companies to build facilities as well. As of 2015, Georgia was the number 3 state in America in the filming industry and I aim to maintain that high level of economic impact by further boosting the appeal of entertainment production in the state.
What would you say are the top three political issues you are MOST passionate about?
I am not afraid to say that the most important issue facing Americans today is the unequal treatment of certain sections of society. Whether it is coming from the U.S. Government or an individual on the street, the intolerance of anything different from what is considered “normal” does nothing but divide us as a nation. The GOP is targeting all women, minorities, members of the LGBT community and disabled people as lesser sections of society and you can see it in the bills they have passed and are attempting to pass so far in 2017. Somehow we have to lessen the divide and encourage all member of society to work together toward a brighter future where nobody has to be afraid of being different.
The protection of voting rights has become a hot-button issue this year as many states are trying to pass legislation to make registration much more difficult for minorities and lower-income citizens, who may not be able to afford to miss work for voting. The Voting Rights Act must be strengthened so that the states can no longer pass legislation that does anything to suppress voter registration or turnout. A national voter indentification card is one possible solution to the various ID requirements that each state may have in its voter registration process. With the 10-year redistricting coming up in 2020, we have to ensure that the GOP does not get a second chance to gerrymander the voting districts. If they do, there may not be another realistic chance to change the complexion of the current government for decades or more.
The healthcare issue is incredibly complicated but at the same time, if the GOP truly wanted Americans to have decent healthcare coverage at a reasonable price, they would have come up with a plan over the past six years instead of merely saying, “Obamacare doesn’t work” and stopping for the day. Massive reforms will have to take place in the pharmaceutical, medical and health insurance industries if we want real, lasting change instead of temporary fixes that may end up causing more problems in the long term. Both my opponent and the GOP have failed at this miserably. Instead of working to create a bipartisan solution that could satisfy all parts of the equation, they complained and fought and resisted so much that now they have no idea what to do. And all the while the polls show that Obamacare is becoming more and more popular with Americans, especially since the alternative seems to be a hope and a prayer.
Leadership today, by women, for women, is so critical-specifically Freedom of Choice, Equal Pay, Equal Access to traditionally male fields in education...do you feel a connection to the Women's Movement and if so, what is your experience with it?
As a woman, my entire life has been filled with apprehension at being treated differently based solely on my gender. Both at school and at the workplace, I have felt discrimination and harassment from acquaintances and co-workers and been powerless to fight against such treatment. Both companies and school administrations would bend over backwards to defend such treatment instead of taking action to prevent that sort of discrimination. This unfairness is a key reason as to why I felt it necessary to run against Jody Hice. He once said that a woman should only run for office “if the woman’s within the authority of her husband.”
This unenlightened attitude does nothing but promote the treatment of women as a second-class citizen. It should be nowhere near Congress where decision regarding public policy should be based on all citizens equally and not overly dependent on one small slice of society that supports a particular political party. Throughout my life, I have made a point to help women apply to school and for jobs so that they may also take control of their lives and become a more active part of the economy and society as a whole.
Who was your favorite teacher and what did you learn from them that continues to shape you today?
My favorite teacher was Mrs. Keith, my science teacher back at Thomson High School. She helped me gain an appreciation for facts, science, biology and knowledge that still drives me today to keep learning and never stop searching for truth. When my own personal circumstances were not ideal, she took specific interest and helped me get through some tough times by standing tall and never giving up, even against insurmountable odds. That extra attention was crucial in how I developed into the same type of person that will help anyone in need, even at the expense of my own best interests at times.
What is an issue or position have you changed your mind about politically and why?
In my youth, I did not really appreciate the importance of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and was not as much of a proponent of it as I am now. As I have grown older and more experienced, I now realize how much of a positive effect the program has on families and children that desperately require just a little bit of help from the government. Every person in America deserves to eat healthy, and any conservative politician who argues otherwise (Pastor Jody Hice in particular) should consult a wise man who held strong beliefs considering the treatment of the poor. That man’s name is Jesus and quotes should be easy to find.
Why do you think you will be better equipped to lead your district than your opponent and what changes are critical for Georgia District 10?
My real-life experiences with struggling to make ends meet, facing discrimination at work and school, and growing in the 10th District have equipped me to empathize with all constituents-even those who will not vote for me. My opponent has plenty of education about religious studies and divinity as well as a career that ranges from pastor to religious conservative talk radio host. He constantly espouses rhetoric and public policy that disproportionately affects the LGBT, minority, and female communities. I plan to practice what I preach and to be a proponent of public policies that benefit the community as a whole.
I think the number one priority for the 10th District has to be bringing jobs into the area. Unemployment in the district is at 6.3% (as of the 2015 census), which is about 30% higher than the national average at 4.8%. As mentioned previously, the advent of biodiesel fuels may allow Georgia farmers to change crops and grow switchgrass or sugarcane, both of which are more efficient than corn in terms of biodiesel application.
Education is also critical for the district to enter the national economic stage more fully. Lack of both funding and interest by the current Congress have left a public school system that is ill-equipped to prepare the students for the complex global economic situations they will be facing this century. Letting each state decide what constitutes a standard education only increases the chance that some states will have much lower hurdles for students to graduate. That approach may work for a single state, but eventually we all need to understand that we are all Americans. The better educated the country is as a whole, the better we are able to live our lives.
Finally, healthcare continues to be on the national stage as many GOP members of Congress refuse to admit that the Obamacare programs are beneficial to millions of Americans. The time has come to put the public ahead of any party politics and do whatever it takes to ensure that all Americans are capable of living healthy lives without going broke in the process. Jody Hice refuses to listen to any constituents that do not already agree with his flawed assumption that “Obamacare is an expensive failure that is unpopular, unworkable and unaffordable.”
Unfortunately, my opponent has no alternative plan or ideas. He merely criticizes the hard work of others without advancing any new replacement proposals, and this accomplishes nothing. Thousands of Georgia residents are in danger of losing healthcare, and some residents are literally being put in a “life or death” situation.
Lastly, If you could host a dinner party with 8 people alive or dead, who would your ideal group be?
Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Anne Frank, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Oprah Winfrey and William Shakespeare.
One last question for you-where can myself and others go to donate to your
Thanks for your time and I'm looking forward to helping your campaign!