The need for broadband connectivity is at the forefront of needs across the state especially since the onset of the pandemic. Jones County is no different with large areas having inadequate and even no internet service. What is your plan to utilize state and other resources to help?
First, I would put together a committee of stakeholders to bring about awareness of the problem: the need for broadband connectivity in rural communities. In light of COVID-19 and the pandemic, broadband connectivity in rural communities is even more needed.
I would reach out to stakeholders including businesses such as but not limited to internet service providers, institution of higher education, other public officials, and families to discuss the issue and present solutions. In doing so, I would present a study to show the benefits of internet access in rural communities especially in the age of the pandemic where many folks are communicating virtually and via internet access.
Next, as stated earlier, I would seek the resource assistance of (1) educational institutions, (2) grants, (3) businesses, (4) banks, (5) local and state fundings, (6) other resource providers to tackle this issue.
Moreover, I would establish time deadlines to accomplish this goal of broadband connectivity in rural communities. As discussed earlier, I will set a time period to review the problem with the various stakeholders. Thereafter, I will set another goal deadline by which to obtain the resources to implement better and additional broadband connectivity in rural communities. Third, implementation of the goal would take place. Thereafter, there will be a review and progress analysis period.
As an attorney traveling throughout rural Georgia in my post trial and appellate practice over the years, I have noticed the need for better broadband connectivity or services. Such services is not only necessary to complete online tasks in rural communities efficiently using the internet but can also help with safety and other precautions via the ability to communicate more effectively at times.
The Hope Scholarship has helped thousands of Georgia students attend college since its creation in 1993, but it has undergone changes and challenges over the years. Are you a supporter of the scholarship, and, if so, what will you do to ensure that it is there for students for years to come.
I am a supporter of educational opportunities for deserving students who desire a college education. The Hope Scholarship has allowed many students to obtain a college education since its enactment in 1993. To assists with the continuation of the Hope Scholarship, I would do the following:
I would continue to share the stories of Hope Scholarship’s recipients. As well, I would make a concentrated effort to reach out to those students who have benefitted from the Hope Scholarship to encourage participation in fundraising efforts to keep funds available for future generations. There are various success stories supported by the Hope Scholarship.
The success of those who have benefitted from Hope scholarships can serve as an investment back into the program. According to the Georgia Lottery, more than 1.8 million students have benefited from the HOPE program per a January 21, 2020 article (see georgiastatesignal.com)
I would also seek available state and local fundings which would continue to support endeavors such as the Hope Scholarships. I would continue to support existing funding of the Hope Scholarship also. Based on my research, the Hope Scholarship continues to mainly be funded by the Georgia Lottery.
Also, I would reach out to the business and corporate communities as funding sources for the hope scholarship especially those persons in the business and corporate communities who were Hope recipients now operating their own businesses or running or involved in corporate entities.
What will you do to raise teacher salaries and strengthen teacher preparation?
I received a public education in a Georgia school system. My teachers were instrumental in my academic achievement throughout my public school education; my elementary school teachers laid a solid foundation which was very stable based on their efforts instilling in me that I could achieve academically or otherwise. Such background is necessary to understand my appreciation for good teachers and acquiring the types of teachers I encountered as a young student. Thus, I understand the value of good teachers. I believe in good teachers. Good teachers deserve a competitive salary.
As a community, we should seek the best and brightest folks to teach our valuable resources, children: the leaders of the future. To do so, we must have attractive salaries for teachers.
To support teacher preparation, I would encourage a Teaching Campaign which starts in Middle School encouraging students to become Teachers and showing the value of good teachers.
Second, I would encourage teaching institution to recruit students as such institutions recruit high school athletes. In this situation, the best and brightest students would be recruited in high school to teach in public schools via higher education opportunities.
I would put together an advisory group of local stakeholders to help determine the best method to raise teacher’s salaries. Teacher’s salaries raise would be the goal. The committee would look at ways to raise such salaries whether via taxes or other mechanisms. I would want community buy in regarding the methods used to raise teacher’s salaries.
In conclusion, I support an increase in teacher’s salaries. Education deserves the best and brightest teachers. An attractive salary would attract the best and brightest teachers to serve our children.
What are your thoughts about home rule for cities and counties, particularly considering the different needs of rural counties versus more densely populated cities during the pandemic?
The Home Rule Act has its purpose. Per my review of Georgia law, my understanding of the Home Rule Act is that governing authority of a municipality corporation has the power to adopt clearly reasonable ordinances, resolutions, or regulations relating to its property, affairs, and local government for which no provision has been made by general law
Rural communities have different needs than other communities. In such situation, home rule is particularly relevant when addressing issues of importance to the municipality such as the pandemic involving COVID-19.
Rural communities should be able to determine what is in the best interest of the citizens in its community. Such communities and its leaders know the community best and how to best serve the interest of its citizens.
Ordinances and the likes allow for municipalities to take care of their own affairs based on the needs of the community.
What are your thoughts on evaluating school performance and state accountability (CCRPI)? Specifically, what are your thoughts about assessment/testing in our public schools?
Based on my research via the website of Georgia Department of Education, my understanding of CCRPI is that it is a comprehensive school improvement, accountability, and communication platform for all educational stakeholders that will promote college and career readiness for all Georgia public school students.
As a community and state, we owe it to our students to ensure that they are receiving a solid foundation in education which will allow them to thrive as citizens in their selected careers. There must be a way to measure that public schools are doing so in order that no students are left behind.
I believe that testing is one way to promote college and career readiness.
Assessment testing should be one avenue by which to measure a student’s progress. It should not be the only avenue to measure a student progress. The test and/or testing should be a fair test free of any cultural or similar bias; thus, test designs should constantly be evaluated to ensure fairness to all students.
I believe that testing is one way to evaluate and hold schools accountable. We must assure that fair tests are administered to account for student’s progress. However, progress should not be based solely on formal testing. There must be other measurable ways to ensure student’s progress also other than formal testing. We must ensure that students have the proper foundation academically, socially, culturally, and wellness-wise to move forward and to adapt to the current world.
What is your opinion of the value an education in the arts (dance, drama/theatre, music, visual arts) provides students?
In my opinion, I believe the Arts (dance, creative writing, drama/theatre, music, visual arts, etc. collectively referenced in the plural sense as the “Arts”) are essential to a well-rounded education and life experience as follows:
I believe that the Arts provide students with an opportunity to develop as a person, a leader, problem solver, and a creative force in the world. The Arts provide an avenue to create wellrounded student who are better able to long-term serve the community.
I believe the Arts also help with the social adaptability of students. It is that “added value” a student brings to the table in an interview, social setting, or contest.
The Arts provide students with an opportunity to find their uniqueness and talent leading to self-actualization and selfconfidence.
Ultimately, I believe the Arts serve as a wellness tool for students who use art to express themselves and as a way to relieve stress and cope with life issues.
In conclusion, the Arts remain very important to our community, and the Arts should be encouraged and supported in homes, schools, and other institutions.
Online purchases are at an all time high. Should the taxes on those sales be based on the address of the store or the purchaser? Why?
Whether to tax the sales of online purchase based on the address of the seller or the purchaser is a matter of opinion. However, there have been court rulings pertaining to this issue. Taxing based on the address of the seller may provide for uniformity in taxes and tax revenues to states and government. However, taxing based on the address of the purchase would encourage more online sellers and businesses (including mom and pop shops) to create products to sell online with less tax accountability. Most states have adopted a view of this issue in some respect.
Healthcare is a huge talking point in elections across the nation, but it is literally a life and death issue in rural counties. What is your plan to improve the availability of healthcare for constituents in the rural counties you serve?
Healthcare in rural counties should be a priority. As such, my plan to help with the availability of healthcare in rural communities is as follow:
Additional Recruitment Efforts targeting healthcare professionals
Additional recruitment efforts targeting healthcare professionals with attractive benefits.
I believe that the recruitment of healthcare professionals to rural communities must remain an active goal. There will need to be attractive incentives to encourage individuals to practice in rural communities to offer health care services. As such, we will have the expertise of these professionals to help look for solutions to addressing the healthcare issues in rural communities.
Additional creation of satellite health offices including virtual offices
I would continue to look for opportunities to locate satellite hospitals in rural communities such as emergency rooms, clinics, virtual offices, and the like. These offices via their availability should make it easier and quicker to serve constituents with emergency and similar needs. It would also alleviate the transportation burden which is also necessary to transport folks to larger cities to be served medically.
High School Student Recruitment in the Heath Profession
Long-term recruitment of students: Scholarships to Students from rural communities willing to commit to return to rural communities
I would also look for opportunities to recruit high school students from rural communities to become involved in the healthcare profession because these individual will most likely care about their relatives and friends in rural communities. These individuals will most likely return to rural communities to open healthcare practices. In fact, I think scholarships should be offered to students in rural communities who promise to return home after healthcare training to open practices for a number of years in said communities.