A former Sandy Springs City Councilman and a Buckhead lawyer meet in the Republican Primary on May 24 to determine who will take the seat in the House of Representatives representing District 52, which covers portions of Buckhead and Sandy Springs. Graham McDonald of Sandy Springs and Deborah Silcox of Buckhead are vying to succeed veteran former Rep. Joe Wilkinson, who decided not to seek re-election. No Democrat has filed for the District 52 seat, so the winner of the Republican Primary will be able to claim the seat.

Deborah Donaldson Silcox

State House candidate Deborah Silcox.


Neighborhood:  Northside Woods

Past political experience: University of Georgia legislative intern for the 1985 session, legislative intern for U.S. Senator Sam Nunn in the summer of 1984, clerked for Georgia’s Attorney General Michael Bowers in the summer of 1987, have worked on numerous campaigns.

Other experience in the community:  Reappointed and made chair of the Governor’s Commission for Service and Volunteerism by Governor Nathan Deal (2014-present), appointed by Gov. Sonny Perdue to State of Georgia’s Commission for Volunteerism and Service (2011- 2014) as well as the Department of Human Resources Board (2009-2011), Chastain Park Conservancy (Executive Committee and Board Member 2008-2015), Advisory Board of the Chastain Park Conservancy (2015-present), Hands on Georgia Board Member (2004-2008), Junior League of Atlanta (past Vice President of Finance and Board Member) Atlanta Speech School Guild (past Treasurer and Board Member), Atlanta Speech School Parents Council (past President), Girl Scout Leader (3 years), Church of the Apostles Women’s Ministry Leader, Cub Scout Leader (2 years), Parents’ Association of Westminster Schools Board, Westminster Catbackers, and Westminster Elementary Parents Council Member.

Q: Why are you running for this office?

A: As a senior at Riverwood High School, I had a rare form of cancer, and it changed my life. I have always wanted to give back to this community that cared for me so much when I was so ill.

Q: Why should the voters choose you?

A: I can serve in this position full time. I have raised my family and have no competing business. I also have very clear goals in mind to bring change to Fulton County and Georgia including exempting senior citizens from school taxes similar to how Cobb County already does, bringing property tax relief for all Fulton homeowners by raising the homestead exemption, and eliminating the Georgia income tax and replacing it with a FairTax plan. Most importantly, I am tenacious and will finish the job I started: I do not quit.

Q: If elected, what’s the first thing you want to accomplish in office?

A: I will support property tax relief for homeowners by raising the homestead exemption for all homeowners, as well as exempting senior citizens from school taxes similar to how Cobb County already does.

Q: What do you see as he biggest problem facing the district you seek to represent?

A: I believe this district is at a critical crossroads. The burden of property taxes and other taxes are coming down hard on most people, and this is causing many to rethink living in the area, particularly older residents. A second problem we must address is improved traffic flow in our community.

Q: What do you see as the biggest problem facing the state?

As our representative I will work to ensure we have long term economic development plans in place to bring jobs and growth here. My proposal to eliminate income taxes and replace them with a FairTax plan would absolutely result in economic development from companies relocating out of high-tax states to Georgia and bringing growth, manufacturing, and high-tech jobs with them.

 Q: If a “religious freedom” bill similar to the one passed this session and vetoed by Governor Deal is offered again next year, how would you vote on it?

A: Reasonable people can disagree on his issue, but I believe that the language of House Bill 757 would not withstand a judicial challenge. Arguably, the language of the bill violates the Equal Protection Clause of the fourteenth amendment of the U.S. Constitution as well as the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If another bill is proposed next year, I would be interested in finding language in the bill that protects Georgians’ freedom of religion but does not discriminate against anyone.

Q: If it comes up again in the legislature next year, would you support some form of new tax to expand MARTA?

A: I would not vote to raise taxes but would support allowing the voters of our district to decide if they want a new tax to expand MARTA.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.