Occupation: Current state Senator, District 32. Retired orthopedic surgeon, Resurgens Orthopaedics.
Previous elected offices held: None.
Other community service experience: East Cobb Rotary, MUST Ministries, BSA, East Cobb UMC.
What is motivating you to run for this office?
Service to my community is my motivation. I have lived in the district since 1986 and want to protect our quality of life. This includes excellent education, economic opportunity and keeping taxes as low as possible. As a physician (and COVID survivor), I care a lot about healthcare and insurance legislation as well as helping our veteran and military community. I am willing to continue to serve this upcoming term because I have been successful in getting legislation passed for the benefit of my district, using a lifetime of leadership experience.
What is the biggest issue facing the district and how will you address it?
COVID-19 and the economic recovery from it is likely to dominate the session and I hear from constituents about this every day. As a doctor, I work regularly on public health and safety issues and will continue to work on helping our state get past this virus. I will continue to work to help our small businesses, nonprofits and schools recover in this challenging environment, along with advocating for families that have been impacted by the pandemic. I am especially concerned about the impact on people with mental health problems, people in recovery and families with special needs.
Why should voters keep you in this office?
I have a record of effectiveness and working with others to pass legislation. I have the second highest “batting average” for legislation in the Senate and work with others across party lines to pass bills. I was particularly happy to pass the “Sandwich” bill, fixing a problem that shut down the summer feeding program for MUST Ministries and other nonprofits. I was proud to support the Hate Crimes Bill and the Elder Abuse bill. I sponsored and/or carried many healthcare bills, including more coverage for new moms to improve our maternal mortality situation.
What would be your policy priority in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic?
We are likely to be dealing with this virus for a long time and I am most interested in helping our small businesses and families recover from the economic consequences of COVID-19. I support the Department of Public Health and will advocate for funding for their important programs. As a surgeon, I understand infection control and will continue to support the evolving science about this novel virus. I support mask wear and protecting each other. I believe that the benefits from temporary regulatory rollbacks during the pandemic could be helpful long-term, such as wider availability of telemedicine.
What state law changes, if any, should follow as a result of this year’s protests about racism and police brutality?
There is a current Senate study committee on policing reform. Our police need more training, especially in crisis intervention and de-escalation. I believe we will see legislation on citizen arrests and no-knock warrants as well as additional training. There is room for improvement and I believe our law enforcement officers are supportive of things that will make it easier to do their very dangerous jobs. I support the development of mental health teams that help our officers in some of their most challenging situations.
What is an under-the-radar issue that needs more attention in the next legislative session?
The impact of COVID-19 on mental health issues including addiction, domestic abuse and suicide is very profound. On top of the painful budget cuts necessary due to loss of state revenue, these vulnerable communities suddenly lost a lot of resources due to not being able to connect with others. These programs need a lot of attention during the next session.