Candidate Q&A – Joel Thibodeaux, candidate for Georgia Senate District 43
In advance of the May 22 primary election, Decaturish is publishing Q&As with the candidates. To see your sample ballot, click here.
Joel Thibodeaux, Georgia Senate District 43
Why are you running for this position?
District 43 covers the I-20 East corridor from Augusta – from Covington, through Conyers, and into Stonecrest and Lithonia. We have a skilled and educated workforce, available land, and easy access to road, rail, and air. Still, we haven’t seen major opportunities for participation in Georgia’s resurgent economy. I believe that this is because we don’t have knowledgeable and engaged representation in the state senate. I offer the necessary knowledge, experience, work ethic, and vision to bring the right people together and effectively advocate for projects, programs, and funding necessary to maximize the potential of the 43rd District and improve the lives of my neighbors. If we truly do live in the “best state for business”, then SoutheastDeKalb, Rockdale, and Newton counties deserve to be a part of the conversation.
What are your qualifications for this office?
I hold a Master’s degree in Public Policy, concentration on Public Finance from the Andrew Young School at Georgia State. I worked three years at the Senate Budget and Evaluation Office, and am currently the Director of Internal Audits for DCSD. I have private sector experience in financial planning and analysis with a global scope in both technology and manufacturing. I was also Chair of the Governor’s Commission on the City of Stonecrest – where I facilitated the transition from county to municipal governance by engaging over 75 citizen volunteers on six subcommittees to build the governance plan. I sit on the Board of the Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance, have been an HOA president, and have been actively engaged with community issuesfor the past 20 years.
What kind of work do you do?
I’m a public sector internal auditor. I have a full time job and a fledgling IA consulting business.
What are two or three things you’d like to do if you’re elected?
Locally, I want to help bring at least one high-quality, job producing regional level project to our district – something along the lines of a corporate relocation or major domestic expansion. I want to adjust or rewrite the state’s equalization grant formula so that DeKalb schools are no longer subsidizing Gwinnett, and I want to secure more state and federal resources for the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area. On state policy, I would like to see treatment and accountability based proposals for dealing with the opioid crisis be inclusive of addictions to other substances as well. We shouldn’t address addiction to one substance with treatment and to another with prosecution based on cultural and class differences among the addicts.
Why should voters choose you over your opponent?
As a private citizen, through my professional career, my community and church involvement, and through specific appointments, I have facilitated positive change in my community and the state. I operate with the understanding that my service as senator must be inclusive of citizen and voter input – just as I did with the Stonecrest Commission. My opponent has been elected twice as a Representative and once as a Senator and has not delivered anything to positively impact the District, and has not engaged citizens proactively in order to effectively represent them. I can do better than authoring and offering only one bill per term. I am comfortable engaging people beyond the local or party caucus to be a part of legislative solutions to our many issues, and will not wait for my vote and support to be determined by my colleagues after the heavy lifting is done. I have a vision for smart growth along our eastern gateway (I-20 from Newton Co. in to I-285), and my record demonstrates an enduring work ethic that I will apply to meeting the demands of delivering engaged, effective, and inclusive representation to the 43rd Senate District.
If elected, do you promise to conduct yourself in an ethical and transparent manner?
Yes, I do. It’s an extension of my principles and values, as well as the purpose behind my chosen profession.