Candidate Q&A: Georgia House District 84Georgia State Capitol. Photo by Dean Hesse.
Decaturish.com sent a Q&A to all candidates running for the Georgia House of Representatives and Senate. Here are the responses of the candidates running for House District 84 in the May 24 election. Early voting starts May 2. To see your sample ballot, visit the Georgia Secretary of State’s My Voter Page by clicking here. The answers have not been edited. All our elections coverage can be found at Decaturishvotes.com.
To see a map of Georgia House districts, click here.
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Candidate name: Omari J. Crawford
Candidate website: www.voteomaricrawford.com
What is your occupation? Attorney
What neighborhood do you call home? Decatur. I grew up in South DeKalb County, near Bob Mathis Elementary and Southwest DeKalb High School.
Why are you running for this position? I am a lifelong resident of Georgia’s 84th House District, which is DeKalb County-based. My well-documented community service illustrates how much I love my district, and I want to represent the community that raised me.
If elected, what are your top two or three priorities? Healthcare, affordable housing, and education. I believe these three priorities are the basis for a thriving life in our community.
How would you work to accomplish your priorities if elected? Working to accomplish the priorities of Georgia’s 84th House District will take a multi-faceted approach. If elected, I will continue to develop relationships with DeKalb County community leaders—including but not limited to judges, commissioners, school board officials, HOA presidents, public safety officials, and business owners—to learn the legislative needs at the local level. Additionally, I will continue my well-documented community service to determine which areas need to be prioritized in our district. I will fight for those needs in our Capitol. Lastly, I will tirelessly study Georgia legislation, proposed city and county ordinances throughout our state, and Georgia court orders. Studying these documents will help me to draft concise bills based upon the needs of my community and how each bill will be legally interpreted.
How would you work with members of the opposing party to accomplish your goals? In a healthy democracy, it’s important to work with everyone to reach consensus. I believe there’s the assumption that we need to draw lines in our political discourse; that it’s a constant us versus them and red versus blue. But I know when I enter those halls, I’m representing the neighbors who need Medicaid expansion, who need better senior services, or who need sidewalks for their motorized wheelchair. I can’t get their needs addressed if I’m drawing lines, so instead I want to draw circles. I will sit down with members and find a path to common ground that works best for all Georgians. There’s always an overlap somewhere.
Do you support expanding Medicaid in Georgia and how would you work to accomplish this? The well-being of all Georgia citizens is a top priority for me. I believe we’re a stronger state when we’re healthy and I support policies that will make this ring true across our state. In my assessment, expanding Medicaid is a reasonable path to reaching healthier outcomes too. I understand coming together on some of the big issues requires leadership and perseverance and I would work to find legislation that can improve the heartbeat of our state’s economy along with the hearts and minds of everyday citizens.
Do you support full legalization of marijuana in Georgia? Why or why not? Yes, I do support full legalization of marijuana in Georgia. It’s an important opportunity to expand our economy, increase safe and regulated access, decriminalize the use of marijuana, and help diversify the vitality of our state agricultural system. As an attorney, I’m a first-hand witness to the volume of low-level drug offenses that appear before our courts – which are an administrative and judicial strain. These low-level drug offenses also have the unfortunate outcome of impacting the lives of Black and Brown people. In a domino effect, this leaves them on the sidelines of the economy. Through legalization, we can legislate oversight, reduce the public burden of our courts, enhance public safety – not threaten it – and support marginalized entrepreneurs as they tap into a new market.
Do you support the creation of new cities in DeKalb County? Why or why not? I believe this is a local issue and it really should be up to the residents. As a resident of lifelong resident of DeKalb County, I believe we have to be cautious about the reason for creating new cities. I would like to understand the purpose, the impact on existing cities and residents, the administrative implications for DeKalb County, and the additional tradeoffs. I would need a better handle on the long-term rationale, and certainly would want to have some clear indication of what we’re getting and what we’re giving up.
What do you think of the current process for creating new cities? Recently, there has been a pattern to form new cities throughout our metropolitan area. The reasons for creating new cities range anywhere from disconnect with local governments to revenue. When making such an important decision, residents should be educated and well-informed about the impact that forming a new city will have. Ultimately, it should be for the people to decide how they governed.
Do you support ending Georgia’s prohibition on gambling? Why or why not? For responsible adults, I believe we can make gambling safe, reduce criminalization, and bring it into a formal economy. I would be open to working with the business community closely to figure out how a regulated source can provide jobs with livable wages, while ensuring that there isn’t harm. We can also partner with non-profit organizations to support individuals with a high appetite for gambling.
If the state has a surplus due to increased revenue, how should the money be spent? Healthcare, affordable housing, and education.
What can the state do about private companies buying single family homes as investments? Should the state do anything? I understand that there are some natural tensions here. We live in a capitalistic society and technically, these businesses are not breaking rules. The housing market is no different than any other market, existing on a basic set of rules. We don’t want to artificially suppress housing values in the state through legislation. The impact however is that it makes homeownership unaffordable – especially for millennials like me – and can disrupt Black and Brown Georgians from getting a piece of the American dream. I care about appreciating home values that build wealth for Georgians and I care about housing security for every Georgian. We have to find an equitable balance between smart growth in our communities that increase property values while maintaining livability in this community and our state.
What can the state do to make housing more affordable in Georgia? Where sensible, leverage available federal dollars (American Rescue Plan) to ensure that we have sufficient affordable housing stock. We can work with existing developers to build more mixed income housing with affordable housing set-asides in every new development. We can also increase the approvals of ADUs (auxiliary dwelling units), which essentially allows a homeowner to build a one-bedroom-one-bathroom in their backyards. Finally, we can use zoning and planning regulation to ensure that land trusts and other public land set-asides are preserved for Georgia’s working families. We can’t do this without partnering with local and city officials to keep citizens’ housing secure. I believe these are solutions that can help increase affordable housing supply and smart growth measures we can apply here in Georgia.
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. As a product of Georgia’s 84th District, I was taught moral principles that continue to govern my behavior. I will never deviate from my foundational teachings. To promote transparency in government, I will commit to hosting consistent town-hall meetings to seek input and update the community about the proposed bills that will directly impact their lives.
Candidate name: Maurice Raeford
Candidate website: www.mauriceforthecommunity2022.com
What is your occupation? Account Receivable
What neighborhood do you call home? Hartwood Estates
Why are you running for this position? I am running to put community back into government. I want to ensure that the community has a say in legislation that affects them.
If elected, what are your top two or three priorities? Economic Development, Housing, and Education.
How would you work to accomplish your priorities if elected? In order to stimulate the economy, we must first raise the minimum wage, which has not been updated since 2004 and then decrease taxes on small businesses in order to entice them and aid their growth.
Housing: Establish a cap on investors in the housing market within a certain distance and increase the amount of affordable housing across the state.
Education: Introduce legislation to increase school funding, teacher salaries, and seek to make extracurricular activities more accessible to students so that they can build social networks and have activities in which to participate.
How would you work with members of the opposing party to accomplish your goals? I would begin by identifying like-minded members within the opposing party with whom I may connect. Collaborate with them to draft legislation that will enable us to establish common ground. Often, both sides want the same things fixed; their perspectives on how to do it are just different.
Do you support expanding Medicaid in Georgia and how would you work to accomplish this? Yes, I support expanding Medicaid in Georgia. I would work to accomplish this by utilizing federal matched funding and attracting new businesses to Georgia in order to generate excess revenue.
Do you support full legalization of marijuana in Georgia? Why or why not? Yes, we have seen an uptick in mortality related to marijuana that has been laced with fentanyl recently; however, with legalization, we can monitor and verify that marijuana sold to individuals is not laced with harmful substances. This would also result in an increase in the quantity of money entering Georgia. We can reinvest funds presently spent on imprisoning and investigating people charged with low-level marijuana infractions in education and Medicaid.
Do you support the creation of new cities in DeKalb County? Why or why not? Yes, in my opinion, a group of residents who want cityhood and who can gather the signatures of 20% of the desired community should be granted the right to vote. The majority of cities are concentrated in northern DeKalb, with the majority of central and southern DeKalb remaining unincorporated. Leaders can be more accessible to their constituents when in an incorporated city.
What do you think of the current process for creating new cities? In my opinion, it should be updated and more focused on the community members it affects. Advocates for cityhood who have the backing of at least 20 percent of the community should be given the opportunity to put cityhood on the ballot for all residents to vote.
Do you support ending Georgia’s prohibition on gambling? Why or why not? Yes, we already have the Georgia lottery, which is a form of gambling. Things are becoming more intertwined in the modern world. You may now gamble on your phone, and Georgia will be left behind in this new industry. This industry will bring in revenue and new enterprises, which can then be utilized to fund education and Medicaid, as well as other programs.
If the state has a surplus due to increased revenue, how should the money be spent? If the state has a surplus as a result of increased revenue, the money should be spent on government services and government personnel, with the exception of elected officials. This revenue should also be given to county public schools so that instructors can supply students with critical school supplies without having to pay for them using their personal funds.
What can the state do about private companies buying single family homes as investments? Should the state do anything? Yes, the state should handle this issue. These investment firms are stopping families from owning homes while simultaneously exacerbating the housing market. As previously indicated, the state should establish a cap on investors in the housing market within a certain distance as well as raise the taxes paid by investors when they sell these investment properties.
What can the state do to make housing more affordable in Georgia? As indicated previously, reduce the number of homes investors can purchase. This is a significant weakness in the housing market. The state also needs to re-examine the formula that is used to determine affordable housing and allocate a certain amount of land for affordable housing.
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 pledge to act ethically and transparently. I intend to hold monthly virtual and in-person meetings with my constituents to discuss the legislation I want to introduce and solicit their input on the legislation they wish to see introduced. I will seek to end loaded bills so that our community has a clearer understanding of the legislation and laws that impact their lives.
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