Sally Harrell

Sally Harrell

Occupation: Nonprofit executive, social worker, currently raising children at home

Previous elected offices held: Georgia House of Representatives, 1999 – 2005

Other community service experience: Former Co-President of Emory LaVista Parent Council; Various PTA roles; Troop Leader with Girl Scouts of the USA; Volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America, Active member of Central Congregational UCC, formerly serving as Christian Education Chair.

What is motivating you to run for this office?

We are at a crucial moment in Georgia’s history — a time that calls on us all to embrace our future. I believe that government is an integral part of making that happen. All our citizens deserve affordable healthcare; universal, quality education, including affordable child care and debt-free higher education; efficient transportation options; and clean air and water. I look forward to working with the people of Senate District 40, shaping an agenda that works to improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods and throughout Georgia, now and in the future.

What is the biggest issue facing the district and how will you address it?  

Our public education system needs attention. A decade of budget cuts totaling $9.2 billion has left our K-12 kids without enough buses, crowded classrooms, and teachers that now make $4,000 less than the national average. Young parents find it difficult to locate affordable childcare options. And over the last decade, costs of higher education have skyrocketed by 77 percent and college debt is a serious economic problem for our up-and-coming generation. Georgia will benefit economically from a legislature that makes funding public education a priority.

After the new “ATL” regional transit authority forms, what local transit priorities would you advocate, if any?   

Public transportation in DeKalb County is long overdue for an upgrade. DeKalb residents would be better served by being offered the chance to vote on a MARTA tax, thus retaining local control, rather than putting off needed upgrades and relegating authority to a regional board controlled by the state. DeKalb needs more MARTA parking, improved bus stops, and a system of express buses to our MARTA stations so more people can take advantage of MARTA’s rail, thus reducing traffic congestion.

What is your position on reducing or eliminating the state income tax and why? 

Last spring, the Georgia General Assembly passed an income tax cut, on the heels of billions of dollars cut from our public schools over the last decade. The legislature needs to spend more time determining how much services cost before increasing or decreasing tax rates. For example, our education funding formula dates back to the 1980s and we don’t know how much it currently costs to educate a child in Georgia. I am opposed to dramatic changes in our tax structure without the necessary background work to understand all of the impacts.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.