Candidate Q&A: Democratic candidates for U.S. House District 5File Photo: Jonathan Phillips
Decaturish.com sent a Q&A to all candidates running for the Georgia House of Representatives and Senate. Here are the responses of the Democratic candidates running for U.S. House District 5 in the May 24 election. There is only one Republican running: Christian Zimm. Deaturish sent Q&As to all candidates. Democratic U.S. House District 5 candidate Charlotte Macbagito did not respond.
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Candidate name: Valencia Stovall
Candidate website: www.GoStovall.com
What is your occupation? Business Owner
What neighborhood do you call home? City of Forest Park
Why are you running for this position? We need bold accessible leaders who are committed, solution driven and can get things done. I served 8 yrs as a legislator and was a proven leader. I have 30 yrs experience as a business owner and 30 yrs experience as a community advocate.
If elected, what are your top two or three priorities? My top priorities are making sure the policies are effective in the areas of The Buck – Economic Rejuvenation which focus on small business, workforce shortage in healthcare and other industries, affordable, quality and nondiscriminatory healthcare, justice reform, senior citizens, people with disabilities, affordable housing, and veterans. The Book — Reimagining Education which focus on ensuring every child has access to the best educational setting by unifying all those with a stake in education. Education is in a crisis We must have student-centered learning including an increase in apprenticeship and internship options. Support is needed in the classrooms and for out of school time. Lastly, The Ballot — Voter Education which focus on ensuring the voters understand the roles of elected officials and how accountability works. Policies affect our daily lives.
How would you work to accomplish your priorities if elected? I will use my vast experience as a relationship builder which allowed me as a legislator to sponsor and co-sponsor over a dozen bills signed into law. I will establish an advisory council comprising of individuals to work with my office to find solutions to the priority areas. Being in frequent contact with the local and state officials will be paramount to ensure they are updated on the changes in Washington while allowing my office to be knowledgeable about the needs in Congressional District 5. There are underutilizations in the departments which are associated with my top priorities.
How would you work with members of the opposing party to accomplish your goals? During my tenure, I worked across the aisle effectively. I was one of a few Democrats who held a leadership role in a majority controlled Republican legislature. I was Vice Chair of the Education Sub-committee on Academic Support. I was also appointed to several boards and committees. I established those relationships based on finding areas where we could agree. Once the relationship was established, then that was where trust was built. I realized there are some issues all parties can agree on, but there are levels of priority for the party as well as the steps on getting to the end where the differences occurred. I will use my relationships already established and the lessons learned to guide me in Washington.
Do you support making Daylight Savings permanent in the United States? Yes
Do you support Medicare For All or any kind of universal healthcare plan? Why or why not? Whether it’s Medicare For All or a plan similar to our Western partners, we must be intentional on making sure everyone has access to affordable, quality, and nondiscriminatory healthcare. People shouldn’t be forced into bankruptcy trying to pay for healthcare nor do we need to have work arounds to enable insurance companies to charge higher premiums for pre-existing conditions.
What changes would you make to the Affordable Care Act? I would re-explore the individual mandates and implement provisions where people can keep their same doctors. We must recognize the impact that pharmaceutical industries have on healthcare and restructure it so they don’t have as much control. In America right now healthcare is a privilege and not a right. We must make sure it works for everyone.
Do you support full legalization of marijuana in the United States? Why or why not? I support the decriminalization of marijuana that will eliminate criminal penalties for anyone who manufactures, distributes, or possesses it. I served on the House Medical Cannabis Working Group and supported the passage of the medical marijuana bill while serving as a legislator. Many patients young and old have benefited from its treatment. Individuals should not spend a lifetime incarcerated nor have a criminal record.
What do you think our country’s spending priorities should be? There is such a great need in this country that to adequately fund these needs, Congress needs to enact full year appropriations. The federal agencies are hampered from planning on how to allocate resources and Congress is limited in addressing the uncertain challenges that may arise like responding to a pandemic and preparing for future health threats.
If Republicans take control of Congress in the fall, how would you work with a divided House? During my tenure, I worked across the aisle effectively. I was one of a few Democrats who held a leadership role in a majority controlled Republican legislature. I was Vice Chair of the Education Sub-committee on Academic Support. I was also appointed to several boards and committees. I established those relationships based on finding areas where we could agree. Once the relationship was established, then that was where trust was built. I realized there are some issues all parties can agree on, but there are levels of priority for the party as well as the steps on getting to the end where the differences occurred. I will use my relationships already established and the lessons learned to guide me in Washington.
If Democrats retain control of Congress in the fall, who would you support for Speaker of the House and why? I have not decided on who I would support for Speaker of the House. As a freshman, I would need to research and speak with the candidates interested in that leadership role.
Do you support the John Lewis Voting Rights Act? Why or why not? Yes, The legislation will help to overturn the challenges to voting rights bills across the country. It will restore the preclearance requirements for states with histories of voter discrimination. The protections by this law are not any less important now.
What are the issues upon which you will not compromise? Give us one to three issues upon which there is no middle ground for you. I will not compromise on removing the freedoms established by our constitution and removing the assurance of justice for all. When people begin to distrust the information distributed by the government or witness on a continuous basis how certain groups of people are treated, it is the beginning of civil unrest. We are a country where people migrate because of our form of government for the people by the people. We must ensure this foundation of peace is not disturbed even though we share differences of opinions. The belief in justice is what has stood the test of time and has woven Americans together.
What is your opinion of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine? I believe it is unfortunate for people to lose their lives in any war. There is more to the back story about the invasion that I am not privileged to at this time.
What would you do to address inflation? I would form a committee of experts to identify ways to tackle inflation and to weigh the affects on people living on a fixed income, middle class families with children and low wage earners.
What transportation projects would you like to see completed in your district? More succinct public transportation options that are equitable throughout District 5 which cater to the working class, senior citizens, people with disabilities, and leisure travelers. A modernized rail system to include bus rapid transit which will reduce the traffic congestions throughout the district. I am in support of The Transit Oriented Development projects which will promote economic growth and enhance the quality of life.
What is your opinion of the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection attempt? This insurrection caused a tear in the respect for democracy as we knew it. In America we protect justice and secure peace even though we have certain freedoms. These qualities separate our government from others. Our country has lasted this long because of the respect of the laws. When we have disagreements among citizens and noncitizens, we have a respected justice system in place for the people by the people.
Democrats have control of the House, Senate and presidency, but haven’t accomplished many things on their agenda. Why should voters reelect Democrats? The Democratic leadership inherited a historical pandemic as never seen in our lifetime. It placed a tremendous strain on systems which were already strained prior to the pandemic. We are witnessing the aftermath on healthcare, educational institutions, as well as businesses just to name a few and added into the mix, foreign disruptions. This is a time for leadership who is willing to unite the country to find longterm solutions. The Democrats if reelected will have an opportunity to make a positive mark in history.
If you are elected, do you promise to conduct yourself in an ethical and transparent manner? How would you work to promote ethics and transparency in government? Yes, I promise to conduct myself in an ethical and transparent manner. As an elected official, we are required to sign an affidavit. I practiced this behavior as a legislator during my 8 years in office. I will promote ethics and transparency in government by being an accessible and committed leader.
Candidate name: Nikema Williams (Incumbent)
Candidate website: NikemaforCongress.com
What is your occupation? Member of Congress
What neighborhood do you call home? Princeton Lakes in Atlanta
Why are you running for this position? I am running to preserve the progress I have made and build further upon my commitment to represent the 5th District. I have been a fearless advocate for women, families, and the most marginalized throughout my life best equipping me to lead GA-05.
If elected, what are your top two or three priorities? Access to affordable quality education is a critical part of advancing marginalized communities economically, and that means investing in universal pre-K and HBCUs. I am a cosponsor of the IGNITE HBCU Excellence Act and worked to secure strong HBCU funding in FY22 appropriations and the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act. We need to immediately expand Medicaid and provide affordable healthcare to those who need it most. I am a strong supporter of Medicare for All and paid family leave. Care and autonomy also means paid family leave for everyone to take care of themselves and their families and full reproductive freedom for everyone. As the former Vice President of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood Southeast, I will remain a fierce champion for Maternal Health and protecting and expanding access to the full range of reproductive healthcare. Fundamental to the above, is the right to vote; to have your voice heard in our democracy. In Congress, I worked to pass the Freedom to Vote Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the For The People Act in the House and will continue to fight until it becomes law. I also introduced the Voters on the Move Act and the Election Day Holiday Act to make it easier for people to register and exercise their right to vote.
How would you work to accomplish your priorities if elected? I would continue to introduce progressive policies and work with the various caucuses I currently serve on such as the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, the Equality caucus and many others to enact policies for the people. I have assembled a strong team, I am always listening to my constituents and I let my values be my steadfast guide.
How would you work with members of the opposing party to accomplish your goals? When it makes sense, I work with members of the opposing party because when the main priority is to get positive policies enacted for my constituents. In Congress you learn that everyone here doesn’t always vote their values, and there may be instances where we find common ground for the people. I am grounded in my values and won’t compromise the purpose of legislation.
Do you support making Daylight Savings permanent in the United States? Yes
Do you support Medicare For All or any kind of universal healthcare plan? Why or why not? I support Medicare for all and constantly stand up for improved access to healthcare. I have held a town hall meeting to discuss this with experts and constituents to improve resources and continue the fight for increased healthcare benefits.
What changes would you make to the Affordable Care Act? I would expand and strengthen the Affordable Care Act to make sure that everyone has the care they need. Healthcare is a fundamental human right. It is a failure of our country that millions of Americans die due to the lack of healthcare.
Do you support full legalization of marijuana in the United States? Why or why not? Decriminalizing marijuana is a step toward criminal justice reform and racial justice – one of many. Black and brown people have suffered from our federal marijuana policies and are disproportionately jailed and arrested for marijuana-related offenses. The MORE Act will help right some of these injustices while reinvesting in communities that were harmed by our misguided federal marijuana laws. The House of Representatives did its job. Now, I am pushing to encourage my colleagues in the Senate to quickly act to pass this bipartisan legislation. We must undo the damage from our failed war on drugs.
What do you think our country’s spending priorities should be? Our spending priorities have to change. Workers rights are at the top of my mind making sure that working families are supported and have the support they need. We also have to fully support education at all levels. That includes canceling student loan debt and preparing for the future so the next generation, like my son Carter, will have a safe and healthy America.
If Republicans take control of Congress in the fall, how would you work with a divided House? I am working tirelessly as the Chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia to make sure that does not happen, but if it does I will still fight for equity and justice in everything that I do. I have worked with my colleagues as the freshman class president to get things done- and that will be my agenda regardless of who controls the House.
If Democrats retain control of Congress in the fall, who would you support for Speaker of the House and why? I would continue to support Nancy Pelosi. She filed for re-election and has done a stellar job of navigating us through this challenging time.
Do you support the John Lewis Voting Rights Act? Why or why not? Yes! I am an original cosponsor of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act because everyone, regardless of their zip code, should have full access to their right to vote. I continuously fight for voting rights as the co-chair of the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus and the DCCC Chair for Voter Protection.
What are the issues upon which you will not compromise? Give us one to three issues upon which there is no middle ground for you. I will not compromise on worker’s rights, the support our students pursuing higher education and our right to vote. I have a long history of organizing and standing with my constituents for what is right. I have held these values, live these values and will continue to use my voice in Congress to stand up for those most marginalized. I am a lifelong advocate for the people and will never stop being out loud and on purpose for what is right.
What is your opinion of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine? I stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine. I call Georgia’s Fifth District because when we see something that’s not right, we find a way to get in the way. At home and abroad, we stand for peace, non-violence and justice for all people.
What would you do to address inflation? I continue to support Child Tax Credits to strengthen families and getting the Build Back Better Act passed by the senate to combat the many ways inflation is influencing American families. The Build Back Better Act will be transformative for nearly every family: lowering costs, cutting taxes and fighting harmful inflation.
What transportation projects would you like to see completed in your district? I am excited for the day when the Stitch will be completed in my district. As a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure committee I vehemently work to create greater equity in our transportation system. Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act I helped secure $1.711 billion to improve roads and bridges across the state, $92.5 million for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and $158.6 million to strengthen water infrastructure, including the replacement of lead pipes. The money to support the district can’t get here soon enough.
What is your opinion of the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection attempt? The January 6 insurrection was one of the most grotesque days in American history. As a freshman, it happened in my very first week in office. To respond to the heinous attack on our democracy, during my second week in office I introduced legislation to prohibit President Donald John Trump from entering the United States Capitol at any time after the expiration of his term as President.
Democrats have control of the House, Senate and presidency, but haven’t accomplished many things on their agenda. Why should voters reelect Democrats? Real progress takes time, but the Democratic agenda is strong and is laying the groundwork for stronger communities. I’m the chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia and I see the change that future progressive leaders will have. I work tirelessly to afford them the opportunity to make Georgia and the country better for the people in my district and beyond.
If you are elected, do you promise to conduct yourself in an ethical and transparent manner? How would you work to promote ethics and transparency in government? I always center the most marginalized in my decisions and challenge my colleagues to do the same- if re-elected I promise to continue this ethical and transparent stance. I serve on the Modernization of Congress committee where I remind them that people like me, a Black woman named Nikema, are here and there have to be changes in government to recognize the diversity and increase equity.
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