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www.atlantajewishtimes.com The Atlanta Jewish Times is printed in Georgia and is an equal opportunity employer. The opinions expressed in the Atlanta Jewish Times do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper. Periodicals Postage Paid at Atlanta, Ga. ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES (ISSN# 0892-33451) IS PUBLISHED WEEKLY BY SOUTHERN ISRAELITE, LLC 270 Carpenter Drive, Suite 320, Atlanta, GA 30328 © 2018 ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES

This November’s elections — sure to put new people into the offices of governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state and insurance commissioner — will test whether Georgia remains reliably Republican or has drifted Democratic. But first the parties must choose their candidates in primaries May 22, with runoffs July 24 for any multiway race in which no candidate wins a majority. The most interesting contest might be the Democratic primary between two former state representatives hoping to become Georgia’s first female governor: Stacey Abrams and Stacey Evans. Abrams also is trying to become the first black woman in the nation elected a state governor. You can read about the two Staceys and their views of interest to the Jewish community beginning on Page 8. If you’re planning to vote in the Republican primary instead, you’ll find seven guber-

natorial candidates on your ballot. Beginning on Page 14, we present interviews with the five — Casey Cagle, Hunter Hill, Brian Kemp, Michael Williams and Clay Tippins — whom the Republican Jewish Coalition judged to have the best chances of extending the GOP’s 16-year hold on the Governor’s Mansion. Meanwhile, two Democrats are trying to make Georgia history by becoming the first Jewish woman to win a partisan statewide election; Republican Sam Olens, elected attorney general in 2010 and 2014, is the only Jewish man to pull off that feat. You can read about AJT 40 Under 40 honoree Lindy Miller, running for the Public Service Commission, on Page 24. Cindy Zeldin, who is running for the open position of insurance commissioner, appears on Page 13, where you’ll also find mention of the Jewish candidates for the General As-

sembly — with one exception, Gavi Shapiro. Shapiro is staging a primary challenge to Republican incumbent Deborah Silcox in the 52nd District. The Sandy Springs rivals are on Page 26. Our primary preview wouldn’t be complete without the contest that has revived the phrase “flip the 6th”: the 6th Congressional District, where upward of 40 percent of Jewish Atlantans live. This time, Rep. Karen Handel is unchallenged for the Republican nomination, and four Democrats are competing to run against her: Lucy McBath, Bobby Kaple, Steven Knight Griffin and Kevin Abel. Abel is trying to become Georgia’s first Jewish congressman since Elliott Levitas. Beginning on Page 19, you can read about the four Democrats, any two of whom could wind up in a runoff July 24. The polls open at 7 a.m. Tuesday, May 22, Election Day.

VOTERS’ GUIDE - MAY 18 ▪ 2018

PUBLISHER

MICHAEL A. MORRIS

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GOVERNOR

Abrams, Evans Struggle for Separation The differences between the two Democrats running for Georgia governor include votes on BDS and HOPE bills and their campaign strategies

VOTERS’ GUIDE - MAY 18 ▪ 2018

By Dave Schechter dschechter@atljewishtimes.com

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As “the Staceys” — Abrams and Evans — wrapped up their pitches at a Jewish Democratic forum in February, a man walking out was overheard telling his female companion, “It’s the same message.” The two former state representatives align on some issues and diverge on others, and each is confident that her strategy is the only one that can elect a Democrat governor Nov. 6. Jewish Democrats must decide which shade of blue they prefer, a choice perhaps epitomized by Evans’ light-blue jacket and slacks and Abrams’ bright-blue jacket at the forum in Sandy Springs sponsored by the Jewish Women’s Democratic Salon. Whichever woman emerges from the May 22 primary likely will be painted by whichever man the Republicans nominate (the Georgia Constitution bars Republican Gov. Nathan Deal from a third consecutive term) as a blue peg that doesn’t fit into a red square — er, state. (Note: This article looks at the candidates’ positions on issues of likely interest in the Jewish community. You may want to consult the secular news media regarding other issues.) The last Democrat elected governor was Roy Barnes in 1998. Georgia has never elected a woman or an African-American as governor, so the election of either Evans or Abrams would make history (doubly

Stacey Evans and Stacey Abrams sport different shades of blue, which may or may not reflect differences in their political approaches, while listening to Valerie Habif open a Jewish Democratic Women’s Salon forum in Sandy Springs in February.

so for Abrams, who is AfricanAmerican). A poll conducted in February for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution put Abrams ahead of Evans, 29 percent to 17 percent, with 54 percent undecided among a sample of 500 likely Democratic voters. Neither demonstrated great name recognition, and those who knew their names were more neutral in their impressions than favorable or unfavorable. Interviews for this article were conducted Feb. 26 at Abrams’ headquarters, an airy, metal-framed space along the railroad tracks in Decatur, and March 9 at Evans’, a house near Midtown that she and her husband, Andrew, own and that houses his law office. Both candidates have risen beyond their childhood stations in life. Evans, who turned 40 this month, was born to a 17-yearold single mother. Growing up in Ringgold in northwest Georgia, “she moved around from

place to place as her family tried to stay ahead of bill collectors,” according to her campaign bio. Thanks to the HOPE Scholarship, a cornerstone of her life story and her campaign, Evans became the first in her family to attend college, graduating from the University of Georgia in 2000. “I know the difference in a state that works for people and a state that doesn’t and the difference I can make in our individual lives because I lived the difference,” Evans said. “If it wasn’t for good leadership and Democratic policy back in the early ‘90s, creating the HOPE Scholarship, I literally wouldn’t be here.” Evans traces her determination to become a lawyer — she graduated from the UGA law school in 2003 — to police rejecting her telephoned plea as a 12-year-old to stop her stepfather from beating her mother. She met her husband in

law school. They are the parents of a 6-year-old daughter, Ashley. The key event in Evans’ legal career came in 2015, when she helped represent two whistle-blowers in a Medicare fraud case against DaVita Health Care Partners, a provider of dialysis services. (Evans then was a partner in the firm of Wood, Hernacki & Evans. Today she is in private practice.) Without admitting wrongdoing, the company, which changed its name to DaVita Inc. in 2016, paid $450 million to resolve the claims — with 72 percent returned to the U.S. government and the remainder going to the law firms handling the case. Evans represented House District 42, which includes Smyrna and Marietta, from 2010 to 2017, resigning to run for governor. Abrams describes her family as having been among the “genteel poor” in Gulfport, Miss. “We had no money,” she


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age that are voting age, the percentage that might turn out to vote and the percentage therein that might vote Democratic — suggests that Abrams and Evans are competing for somewhere in the range of 55,000 Jewish votes. That’s a small voting bloc, albeit one that votes at a rate greater than the population at large. Candidates know that most Jewish voters pay extra attention to matters involving Israel and how religion plays in the public square. One issue between Abrams and Evans is the 2016 Georgia law that bans the state from doing business with any contractor that boycotts Israel in support of the boycott, divest and sanctions movement, which endorses economic pressure to force changes in Israeli policies, particularly what is referred to as Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and the building of Jewish settlements in that territory. When the House voted 95-71 on March 22, 2016, to approve the anti-BDS bill already passed by the Senate, Evans voted for the measure, but Abrams against it. Debate over Abrams’ vote has carried on in the pages of the Atlanta Jewish Times, including a column she wrote explaining her vote. The AJT interviewed Abrams a few hours after Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, a Republican candidate for governor, said he would block tax breaks for Delta Air Lines after the carrier ended a minor relationship with the National Rifle Association in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., school shootings. “I believe there is no more salient example in recent history of my concern about the (anti-BDS) legislation,” Abrams said. “I condemn BDS. I conContinued on page 10

demn the global BDS movement. I voted on a piece of legislation that can be used as a precedent for blocking political speech. We have to understand that the imprimatur of the state government should never be used to crack down on political speech. It is a freedom that we enjoy, and it is also a freedom that Israel celebrates, this notion that you should be able to have free speech. And when my vote is narrowed down to a top line, I completely

understand the disagreement. But this is more than a matter of principle. This is a very practical question.” Evans rejects Abrams’ reasoning. “You don’t have to question whether Israel has a friend in Governor Evans because I have always stood with Israel and was proud to support the anti-BDS bill,” she said. “As much as she’s trying to rationalize it and explain it away, it was wrong. And when your

Former House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams speaks with potential voters at the Jewish Democratic forum.

As governor, Brian Kemp will continue to support the purchase of Israel Bonds and will advocate for Israeli companies to do business in Georgia. www.kempforgovernor.com

VOTERS’ GUIDE - MAY 18 ▪ 2018

told the Jewish forum, “but we watched PBS and read books.” Abrams, now 44, was 16 when her parents moved the family to Atlanta as both pursued divinity studies at Emory University and became ministers in the United Methodist Church. The oldest of six children, Abrams graduated from Avondale High School and went on to earn degrees from Spelman College (1995), the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas (1998) and Yale Law School (1999). Before entering politics, Abrams co-founded NOW Account, a business-to-business financial services firm. Abrams represented House District 89, which covers a swath of DeKalb County, from 2007 to 2017, serving as minority leader from 2011 until she resigned to run for governor. While in the legislature, Abrams founded the New Georgia Project, an ambitious effort to register hundreds of thousands of minority voters. Neither Abrams nor Evans grew up around Jews. Abrams’ first encounter with Jews was the girl she roomed with for six weeks at the Telluride Association summer program on the Cornell University campus between her junior and senior years of high school. Her greater exposure to Jews came at Yale. Evans first met Jews at the University of Georgia, she said. “I made a lot of great friends in Jewish circles at UGA, friends that are actually helping me on the campaign.” Based on 2016 election results, Georgia has roughly 1.6 million to 1.9 million Democratic voters. Some rudimentary math — involving the number of Jews in Georgia, the percent-

Paid for by friends of Brian Kemp

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Stacey Evans

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friends need you, you stand up and fight with your friends.” Some Jewish voters may take issue with a photograph of Abrams and Linda Sarsour, the Palestinian-American woman and outspoken BDS advocate who was among the organizers of the Women’s March the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration. The photograph was taken at this year’s Jan. 20 women’s rally in Atlanta. Sarsour’s comments about Israel and about the place of Zionist women in the feminist movement, as well as supportive words about Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, have raised the ire of a wide spectrum of Jews. Abrams said the women’s rally was the only time she has met Sarsour. “I believe that my record is unimpeachable. If you look at how I have voted and what I stand for and what I’ve done, there is no sense that I have harbored or would ever harbor any anti-Semitic beliefs. And, in fact, I have been, of the candidates, the most personally aggressive about making certain that I have demonstrated my support of the Jewish state. Of my own volition I joined Project Understanding. Of my own volition, I traveled to Israel. … I worked quietly with legislators

to help make certain we were constantly being protective of the Jewish state,” Abrams said. “That said, Linda is one of the co-founders of the Women’s March. She helped to bring about a national conversation about the role that women play in transforming our nation and reclaiming it from a racist, misogynistic xenophobe. And in that place, we stand in absolute solidarity. … (On BDS) she and I fundamentally disagree. I condemn the global BDS movement. I believe it is anti-Semitic. I believe it is wrong. And she and I fundamentally disagree on this.” (Note: Evans had planned to visit Israel in December 2011 but was seven months’ pregnant and could not travel. Evans said that, if elected, she hopes to lead a trade mission to Israel, as Deal did in 2014.) Several dozen Jews supporting Abrams were signatories to a “Dear Georgians” letter in the form of a half-page advertisement in the March 23 edition of the Atlanta Jewish Times. “We are deeply troubled by those who have questioned her support of the Jewish community,” the letter reads, going on to cite Abrams’ “longstanding relationship with the Jewish community, one that goes beyond simple statements of support and instead demonstrates constant solidarity.” Jewish day school parents will be interested in how Georgia’s next governor manages the student scholarship organizations under a program that grants $58 million in state income tax credits to people who donate to support private school scholarships. The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta created a nonprofit, the ALEF Fund, to facilitate donations to day schools and Jewish preschools. Evans said her concern

is less with the tax credits in principle than the program’s transparency, making sure the state knows how those scholarship dollars are being distributed. She supported an SSO bill in 2011 but voted against it later when transparency provisions were removed. Both Evans and Abrams voted against expanding the program. Evans does not foresee increasing the $58 million cap and said SSOs need to be considered as part of an overhaul of the funding formula for public education. “When I’m governor, that’s a priority because we haven’t done it since the early ‘80s. We’ll be rewriting the funding formula, getting our hands around the dollars we have available for public education, then work on bringing transparency to the SSO program,” she said. “There’s just such a lack of resources going to the traditional public schools right now that we’ve got to make that the first priority.” But she said she does not plan to eliminate the existing scholarship program, which Abrams opposes. “I believe that public education is the prerogative and the responsibility of the state — and that private education should be available to all who seek it, but it is private for a reason and therefore should be financed by those who can take advantage of it. I do not believe that the state should finance private education,” she said. “The student scholarship organization diverts public dollars from a school system that supports 96 percent of Georgia’s children. Private education is absolutely the right of every parent, but it is also the responsibility of every parent who wants to provide that education.”

One point of acrimony between Abrams and Evans stems from a 2011 measure that changed the structure of the lottery-funded HOPE Scholarship — created to make in-state college more affordable — at a time when lottery proceeds failed to keep up with rising enrollment and tuition. House Bill 326 reduced the expenses covered by HOPE; established the Zell Miller Scholarship for high achievers while creating a less generous, second-tier HOPE with lesser qualifications (a lower required grade point average and no minimum SAT or ACT score); and higher academic requirements for the HOPE grant, which finances technical education. The changes put Zell Miller recipients at the front of the line as HOPE money was allocated, which critics said hit students from less-wealthy backgrounds the hardest. Until that provision was partially reversed, the number of students enrolled in technical education declined sharply. Abrams defended the compromise measure she crafted as minority leader with Deal and the Republicans. She said it prevented more severe cuts, avoided a minimum SAT/ ACT score for the basic scholarship, funded remedial classes for HOPE grant recipients, preserved full-day pre-kindergarten, and created a low-interest loan program. Evans remains rankled by the 2011 legislation. “I was there. I know what she did in co-authorizing those cuts with Deal, and what she told us in the caucus as to why she was doing it does not match what she’s saying now,” Evans said. Abrams explained her approach to the job of minority leader to the AJC in 2015. “It’s


insufficient to simply be the party of opposition. Georgians do not care which party you’re with; they care what you’re doing for their lives or to their lives. So my first job is to work together with the majority party.” The candidates align in opposition to “religious freedom” legislation. “I believe in the separation of church and state,” Abrams said. “I cannot divorce my religious upbringing from my decision-making. I’m the daughter of two ministers. To be able to divorce those things means my parents were failures. But what they raised me to understand is that I have a moral framework that is informed by my religion, but that I have an independent mind that must take into account information and make decisions based on what’s right and the job that I have. And my job as a legislator is not to enforce religious orthodoxy. In fact, I revile that and pushed back against it wherever I found it.” Evans, who was raised Baptist but now identifies as a Methodist, said: “It’s terrible. It’s hateful legislation, a license to discriminate, and it’s not just hateful, it’s harmful to our business climate. It’s harmful to the potential for tourism, and I don’t know why any government official continues to bring up these measures because they do nothing but hurt our state.” Several Republican candidates for governor have pledged to sign such legislation if the General Assembly passes it — in contrast to Deal, who was applauded by Jewish organizations for vetoing a religious liberty bill in 2016. Abrams and Evans differed on a measure to require the placement of a granite monument at the Capitol that

Former state Rep. Stacey Evans seeks support among potential voters at the Jewish Democratic forum.

depicts the Ten Commandments, the preamble to the Georgia Constitution and a portion of the Declaration of Independence. The measure specified that no public funds would be spent on the monument. On March 3, 2014, Evans voted yea and Abrams nay as H.B. 702 passed the House 13837. “Before H.B. 702, state law already permitted the Ten Commandments in the Capitol, and they were in fact already displayed there. H.B. 702 addressed a theoretical granite monument. Many of my fellow Democrats also voted for this bill, which, importantly, required the inclusion of the preamble to the Georgia Constitution and a section of the Declaration of Independence. I would not have voted for a bill that did not include these other two important secular documents,” Evans said. The Senate passed and Deal signed the legislation, but to date no monument has been erected. Similar measures in other states have faced constitutional challenges. Which shade of blue Democrats choose may depend in part on how they regard the strategies the candidates employ in seeking votes and in raising and spending cam-

paign funds. As of a Jan. 31 deadline for candidates to file finance reports, Abrams and Evans both had amassed about $2.3 million. Both had lent money to their campaigns: Evans $1.25 million and Abrams $50,000. Based on the Jan. 31 reports, Abrams has spent more aggressively thus far, while Evans has kept a greater share in reserve for the final two months of the primary race. The March 31 deadline for updated finance reports will illuminate the financial condition of the campaigns. Evans’ donors are heavily from Georgia, while Abrams’ include a higher percentage from out of state, particularly from Washington, D.C., New York and California. “We are raising money where we have support. I have support in state. She apparently doesn’t have as much support in state. She knows she has to spend her time raising money out of state,” Evans said. “It’s just a function of where we’ve spent our energy over our time in public service. … She spent a lot of time traveling to D.C., New York and California and getting to know the national Democratic scene, and now that’s where she is able to raise money.” Abrams makes no apology

for her appeal beyond Georgia. “I have a national presence because I’ve spent the last decade building the reputation of Georgia, rebuilding the capacity of Georgia Democrats to be seen as viable in a national election,” she said. Abrams’ donors include financier George Soros (and his son, Alexander), whose support of organizations that challenge the current Israeli government has made the Jewish emigre from Hungary a target of criticism by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the American political right, including Jewish conservatives. “George Soros and the Soros family have demonstrated nothing but deep investment and commitment to social justice. That is how I came to know them because they were early investors in the New Georgia Project, a project whose sole purpose was to expand the ability of people of color and low-income people of color to exercise their right to vote, and my experience of open society and the work they have done has been that of a family committed to social justice. And I am proud to have their support,” Abrams said. Abrams is waging an “unapologetically progressive campaign” aimed at attracting what she believes is a large pool of potential Democratic voters, especially African-American women, who, uninspired by the party’s offerings, have sat out recent elections. Evans eyes progressives but also moderate suburban Democrats and potentially disaffected Republicans, a strategy that Abrams eschews. “I wouldn’t be in the race if I didn’t think that our strategy was the only one that can get us across the finish line victorious in November,” Evans said.

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Stacey Abrams

“This idea that you can just go huddle in the left corner with every Democrat in the state and win an election, I think the math doesn’t add up.” “I know that the complexion of the electorate in Georgia has transformed dramatically in the last 15 years,” Abrams said. “I know that that electorate has a tendency, on the Democratic side, to value progressive ideas, but that candidates who have run under the banner of the Democratic Party have often ignored those voices and pursued more conservative votes. And often, to

attain those conservative votes, Democrats have taken middleof-the-road positions or have refused to engage in certain debates because they did not want to be tagged as too Democratic or too progressive.” Abrams’ and Evans’ websites boast rosters of in-state endorsements. Abrams also touts support from political figures and organizations that operate on a national stage. “I think the worst thing that we could do as Democrats in Georgia if we want to be successful in November is to na-

tionalize this race,” Evans said. “Governors’ races are about Georgia, and it’s about what Georgia voters think, not what the national press thinks and not what national Democratic organizations think.” Whichever Stacey advances May 22 may have to wait until the summer to know her Republican opponent. The AJC’s poll of 500 likely Republican voters put Cagle ahead of five other GOP hopefuls with 27 percent (while 31 percent were undecided), suggesting that a July 24 runoff between the top two primary finishers is likely.

Fall Strategy Sways Staceys’ Jewish Backers By Dave Schechter dschechter@atljewishtimes.com

The AJT invited the Abrams and Evans campaigns to identify Jewish supporters who would speak on the candidates’ behalf.

VOTERS’ GUIDE - MAY 18 ▪ 2018

Andrew Feiler, the president of Metro Developers and a fifthgeneration Georgian who has worked on several Democratic campaigns, supports Abrams.

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“I’m tired of seeing progressive candidates lose elections in Georgia, and the Evans strategy of targeting moderate Republican swing voters has been the losing strategy in Georgia for two decades,” Feiler said. “By stark contrast, the Abrams approach of intensive voter identification and voter mobilization is exactly the approach that has proven successful in Virginia, Alabama and other recent races. And Abrams is pursuing this approach with far greater sophistication and organization than

any of these prior races. Stacey Abrams is one of the smartest people I know, and there is no one who knows ground game like Stacey Abrams. Hers is the only strategy with a shot at winning in November.” Also backing Abrams is Rabbi Joshua Lesser of Congregation Bet Haverim. “In defining ‘Jewish interest’ in a narrow sense, Abrams is a strong supporter of the Jewish community, as evidenced by her participation in Project Understanding and Project Interchange. She has been an ally to Jews and has been steadfast in her support of a two-state solution as the path to resolution of the Israel-and-Palestinian conflict, with Israel as the national homeland for the Jewish people. She is a staunch opponent of supposed ‘religious freedom’ bills while being a true supporter of religious freedom so that one faith is not valued over all other religions,” Rabbi Lesser said. Steve Berman, the founder of OA Development and the author of a column in

the Atlanta Jewish Times last year that criticized Abrams’ 2016 vote against anti-BDS legislation, said, “Stacey Evans is a rock-solid candidate with wonderful positions on maintaining the HOPE Scholarship, enhancing Medicaid accessibility in the state and creating a strong climate that will foster economic growth in the state.” He added, “Democrats will win elections in Georgia by doing two things: pushing turnout and developing positions that walk down the middle of the road and don’t swerve off to the side to appease the fringe elements of the party. The more I looked at Stacey Evans’ positions through the lens of moderation as a means to victory, the more I became convinced she is the right candidate for the time.” Evans also is backed by businessmen Jack Halpern, the chairman of Halpern Enterprises. “In addition to her years of distinguished service in the state legislature, Stacey Evans has had a

successful career as an attorney in the private sector, in contrast to her Democratic opponent, who used political connections to obtain a temporary public-sector job paying a lucrative salary at taxpayer expense. Mrs. Evans has been a champion of education and the HOPE Scholarship program, while her opponent’s support of this vital program has been inconsistent at best. Mrs. Evans has an unblemished record of fiscal responsibility and giving back to the community, including a scholarship that she and her husband have endowed at the University of Georgia Law School. Her opponent, on the other hand, has been operating for years under a cloud of unpaid debts and IRS tax liens and has not demonstrated the kind of discipline and responsible behavior with her personal finances that one should expect from our elected officials,” Halpern said.


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Lindy Miller (Page 24) is not the only candidate trying to become the first Jewish woman to win a partisan election for statewide office. Fellow Democrat Cindy Zeldin (cindyforgeorgia.com), one of Georgia Trend magazine’s 40 Under 40 in 2010, is in a similar position running for insurance commissioner. Zeldin, the former executive director of nonprofit advocacy organization Georgians for a Healthy Future, has urged Georgia to opt into the expansion of Medicaidt. She has one opponent in the primary, Janice Laws. Three Republicans are also seeking the open post. Two-time congressional candidate Allan Levene is in a heads-up battle for an open seat in state House District 15 in Cartersville against Matthew Gambill. No Democrat is running, so the winner of the GOP primary will be elected. The two Jewish members of the legislature, Sen. Renee Unterman of Buford and Rep. Michele Henson of Stone Mountain, are seeking re-election. Democrat Henson faces a primary challenge from Joscelyn O’Neil, but no Republican. Republican Unterman has no primary foe but faces Democrat Jana Rodgers in November. At least three other Jews are running for the legislature: • Democrat Jen Slipakoff, who will face Ginny Ehrhart, Rob Harrell or Thomas Gray in November to replace Earl Ehr­ hart in West Cobb. • Republican Alex Kauf­ man is on the ballot against Democrat Josh McLaurin in November for an open House seat in Sandy Springs. • Democrat Michael Wilensky faces Republican Kenneth Wright in November for an open House seat in Dunwoody.

VOTERS’ GUIDE - MAY 18 ▪ 2018

Other Races Of Jewish Interest

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GOVERNOR

Republicans Mix Business, Political Experience Voters can Cagle: Promising 500,000 Jobs choose among four current or former officeholders and three newcomers

VOTERS’ GUIDE - MAY 18 ▪ 2018

By Sarah Moosazadeh sarah@atljewishtimes.com

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While the choice is simple if not easy for Democrats hoping to recapture the Governor’s Mansion after 16 years of Sonny Perdue and Nathan Deal — either Stacey Abrams or Stacey Evans, both former state representatives hoping to become Georgia’s first female governor — Republicans have a choice of seven candidates. The AJT interviewed the five seen as most likely to grab the GOP nomination: Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, state Sen. Michael Williams, former state Sen. Hunter Hill and political novice Clay Tippins. Also on the ballot are Eddie Hayes (istandwitheddie.com) and Marc Urbach (www.marcurbach.com). The five candidates profiled here participated in the Republican Jewish Coalition’s job-interview forum in March, at the end of which Tippins was the clear winner of a stray poll. You can see the five men’s answers to the same four RJC questions on our YouTube channel and at atlantajewishtimes.com.

After serving as lieutenant governor for 12 years, Casey Cagle says he’s ready to face all challengers in the race to become the next governor of Georgia.

Seventh-generation Hall County resident and Gainesville native Casey Cagle says the past 12 years as lieutenant governor have prepared him to become the next governor of Georgia as he heads into the Republican primary Tuesday, May 22. Cagle served during Gov. Sonny Perdue’s second term from 2007 to 2011 and with Gov. Nathan Deal since then. During that time, Cagle said, he has witnessed the state go through downturns, including the 2008 recession, but also upturns through public policies that have helped Georgia maintain a strong economic run the past five years. For Cagle, a new vision for Georgia that focuses on building infrastructure and sustaining economic growth is key. He is looking beyond the construction of roads and bridges to align education with industry needs and provide more options and choices for students so Georgia can build a world-

class workforce. “My commitment is 500,000 jobs in the first four years, along with streamlining government through zerobased budgeting, which will allow us to create greater efficiency and continue to cut taxes.” Cagle said. “Being a low-tax state is important to our prosperity, and we have reduced taxes from 6 to 5.5 percent on state income, which I believe we can continue to lower going forward.” As lieutenant governor, Cagle has created the College and Career Academies, 46 institutions across the state that serve over 40,000 students. Instead of high school diplomas, which would be worth wages of $16,000 a year, students get industry certifications and two-year degrees, enabling them to earn $40,000 a year, he said. Cagle said he hopes to expand the academies so that every student in Georgia has similar options, as well as different

apprenticeship opportunities. He said he was deeply involved in the passage of House Bill 217, which expands the cap on the tax credit for donations to scholarship organizations supporting private schools, including Jewish day schools and preschools, from $58 million a year to $100 million. “I was happy to lead on raising the $58 million to $100 million,” Cagle said. “Obviously, this is a great tool that gives more choices and options both to parents and our children as well.” Come May 22, Cagle said, voters will have to decide who has the experience and knowledge to govern the state and solve the problems that arise. After 12 years as the No. 2 guy, he said what distinguishes him from the other candidates is not just his experience balancing budgets and leading on important issues, but also his negotiation of complex policy issues from a legislative standpoint and an economic development perspective. To that end, Cagle said the state can pursue multiple endeavors to strengthen ties between Israel and Georgia, including following the example Deal set in 2014 and leading a business delegation to Israel. Cagle said he also wants to ensure that the Jewish community in Georgia has a strong voice and a seat at the table with his administration. Cagle was a driving force behind the passage of this year’s Senate Bill 356, which aims to strengthen financial and legislative support for the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust and to move toward a state Holocaust memorial, as well as 2016’s S.B. 327, which bans Georgia from conducting


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Hill: Restoring Conservative Principles

Hunter Hill says his conservative values parallel those in the Jewish community.

Hunter Hill grew up in Cobb County and served in the state Senate for five years, but the Army Ranger and father of two left the legislature because he believes he is ready to be the governor of Georgia. Hill attended West Point and became an infantry officer. He later traveled to Fort Benning, where he became an Airborne Ranger. He led five teams on three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Upon his return from his third tour in 2012, Hunter won a seat in the Georgia Senate. Hill said he entered the gubernatorial race because of his frustration with Republicans who failed to stick up for the principles on which they campaigned. “I got tired of watching people campaign like Ronald Reagan and then govern like Barack Obama,” he said. “I have a conservative vision for Georgia, and we are getting around the state sharing it, which is going very well.” Hill is the only candidate that has led in combat, led a small business and fought for values in the Senate, he said. “What has lacked in the past has not been conservative candidates — there has certainly been enough of those — but I am both conservative and have the leadership experience to

get our ideals and values implemented into policies.” He wants to eliminate the state income tax, something he said career politicians are not ready to commit to, and seeks to expand choices in education. “I think we need a voucher program and free-market principles in K-12 education, which will help elevate it,” he said. “My plan for education is to make it more student-centered.” Georgia offers a tax credit for donations to scholarship organizations supporting private schools, including Jewish day schools and preschools. The legislature this spring passed House Bill 217 to raise the cap on the credit from $58 million a year to $100 million, a change Hill supports. “I very much support the scholarship and have championed expanding that tax credit for years, so I am glad they did that, and as governor I will support making it even higher.” Hill also said he is for education savings accounts, equitable funding of charter schools and the end of the common core in education. In a phone interview he highlighted the connections between conservative and Jewish ideals. “Our nation was founded on Judeo-Christian

values and principles, and we can’t let those values and principles be undermined,” he said. “As a Christian, I think I share many similar values if not identical values to Jews, which I have been proud to represent in a portion of Sandy Springs.” As a conservative, Hill said he stands with Israel and thinks politicians can do more to encourage its economic relationship with Georgia. Because agriculture is Georgia’s No. 1 industry, he wants to export produce to Israel while importing Israeli technology. Hill added that he fully supported Gov. Nathan Deal’s trade mission to Israel in 2014 and wants to take the GeorgiaIsrael trade connection to the next level. That’s why he supports the purchase of Israel Bonds, Hill said. “It makes sense to me, and I think people should look at that as a personal investment not only for themselves financially, but because the concept of Israel is such a strong one that needs to be defended. Israel is our greatest ally in the Middle East. It’s a nation that shares our values. … We need to make sure that we align ourselves with countries that share our values. … Israel is at the top of that list.” He said that alignment needs to take place at the state and federal levels. “We need to elect leaders that understand that bond that we have for Israel and why it’s important for the longevity of our national interests abroad.” Hill was among the senators who helped pass legislation against the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and thinks the BDS movement on college campuses should be crushed.

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business with entities that boycott, divest or sanction Israel. “I think there are multiple ways, both economically and socially, by which we can positively impact our relationship between Israel and Georgia,” he said. “We do not condone businesses and others that hold a grudge toward Israel. Georgia obviously holds a very special relationship and place with Israel we all need to recognize.” Every crime should receive a punishment equal to the crime itself, Cagle said about this year’s unsuccessful push to enact a hate-crimes law. But he also said people should be mindful that crimes against minorities cannot and will not be tolerated in Georgia. “I’m certainly open to the context of finding ways in which we can be more sensitive in the area of hate crimes,” he said. “But by the same token, crime is bad and something we do not want in any way, so I would come down on the side of being very hard on the issue.” Cagle said he would sign religious liberty legislation if given the chance as governor. Deal vetoed such a bill in 2016 and remained a clear obstacle the past two legislative sessions. The bills debated in recent years have raised concerns about discrimination against LGBTQ people, and rabbis have been vocal in opposition to the proposals. But Cagle said Georgia law should match federal law on religious freedom. “This is already the law of the land, meaning the law of the nation, and I think quite honestly it would be the right direction for Georgia to follow,” he said. “I am not for discrimination in any way or any form, which includes discrimination against any person and their beliefs.”

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Similarly, he believes that a crime against anyone is a hate crime and should be prosecuted to the highest level of the law. “It’s very important that we stand strong on values that help protect life, which is the foundational principle of our country and why I am against any form of discrimination or anti-Semitism.” In the context of religious liberty legislation, Hill regards the law as foundational. “Only religious liberty has been downgraded from the strict scrutiny standard as a constitutional protection,” he said. “Whether a person is Jewish, Christian or whatever their religion is, we need to make sure we protect this foundational principle, and I support restoring religious liberty to its rightful protection in the Constitution.” Hill has pledged to sign a bill to do just that. But he said he can see how the legislation causes confusion. “The left has candidly suggested that it’s discriminatory, but the legislation was entirely intentional to protect religious minorities, which Jews are, of course, in that category,” he said. “We have to stand up for religious minorities. People always say it’s for Christians, or it’s for this or it’s for that, but it’s for everyone. Everyone in our nation has a faith in something, and religious liberty protects people of all faiths. It’s good for business. It’s good for Christians. It’s good for Jews.” Islamic terrorists will never bring the United States to its knees because we’re too strong and they’re too weak, Hill said. What could bring the country down, however, are weak career politicians who undermine the principles that make America the greatest country in the world, he said. “That’s the fight of our time.”

Kemp: Frustrated Businessman

Brian Kemp says he is against all discrimination but favors religious liberty legislation over a hate-crimes bill.

Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp considers himself a hardworking Georgian, small-business owner and family man — values he also sees in the Jewish community. Kemp has worked in the private sector for more than 30 years and said support for small-business owners, his family and devotion to Georgia prompted him to enter politics. “Working in the local community and trying to build a business that I literally started with a truck and a couple of shovels in the back for a construction company ended up getting me into a lot of different things.” Kemp is the founding director of a community bank just north of Athens, First Madison Bank and Trust and owns Kemp Property, a stone business, as well as construction, manufacturing and agricultural companies. “I just got really frustrated

dealing with government regulations, high taxes and not having someone in office that has common sense of small-business owners,” he said. Kemp was elected to the state Senate in 2002, then was elected secretary of state in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. He has remained a smallbusiness owner, dealing with payroll, government regulations and taxes and surviving economic recessions. Those skills are essential for the next governor of Georgia, he said. “When I got in office, that is exactly what I did: I fought government regulations, for streamlining and making the government more efficient and doing more with less. Things Republicans talk about but sometimes don’t do, and that’s why I am running for governor,” Kemp said. “We need a governor that continues to make us the No. 1 state in the country to do business, keep our economy rolling and put Georgians first, ahead of the special interest groups.” Kemp has legislative experience, but he said what sets him apart in the gubernatorial race is that he is the only candidate who has run a large executive branch agency. “It’s a very big job and dealing with a lot pf people and critical duties, and nobody else in the race has that kind of experience.” As a business owner, Kemp said he wants to fundamentally reform how the state government spends and taxes. The effort begins by implementing a spending cap, budgeting conservatively and redirecting funding to public safety, education, health care and transportation. “A lot of people in this race are talking about cutting the state income tax, but they are not saying

how they are going to pay for it. And many have served in the legislature and were never able to accomplish that.” Kemp supports school choice. He wants to provide parents more freedom to do what is best for their children, which is why he backed House Bill 217 to increase the tax credit for donations to support scholarships at private schools from $58 million to $100 million. He also supports public education. “We currently have too much testing in our schools, are requiring too much government paperwork and mandates on teachers and administrators at the local level, which is part of my plan to cut red tape and streamline government.” One of his first endeavors as governor would be an economic and trade mission to Israel, he said, and he supports the relationship Georgia has with Israel. “Israel is the 33rd largest export market for Georgia, which is certainly important to us from an economic standpoint, and our total exports to Israel are over $250 million a year, which has incurred a 60 percent increase since 2013,” Kemp said. “Trade has to be good both ways, and I think we have certainly seen that with our relationship with Israel, and I will continue that as governor.” Similarly, Kemp supports 2016’s Senate Bill 327, restricting business with entities that boycott, divest from or sanction Israel. “I will not allow and will continue to fight against businesses who participate in BDS, and I will continue to support Israel in that regard.” As secretary of state, Kemp has been active in Jewish community events and worked with people who have made it easier to conduct business


with Israel, including the purchase of Israel Bonds, he said. “Purchasing Israel Bonds is not only good for us economically, but also sends a clear message that we are staunch supporters of Israel,” Kemp said. “Israel Bonds serve a decisive role in the rapid and groundbreaking evolution of technology, such as green tech and biotech, which also is good for Georgia because we can learn from that.” Kemp said he has laid out several plans to dismantle gangs in Georgia. “These individuals are targeting a lot of people, and they are only after one thing, which is money to help with their drug trade and claim their territory, and it is time we have a governor to put a stop to that.” He said he would not allow discrimination against anyone, but, instead of a hatecrimes law, he said any crime that targets people should have equal treatment of the law. He also is a strong supporter of religious freedom legislation. “There have been numerous proposals of the religious liberty bill since it first came out,” Kemp said. “But I would sign a state law which references the federal statute signed by Bill Clinton. That is a right and foundation of our country which I will fight for, but (I) will not allow the state to discriminate.” Kemp said he possesses a strong connection to Israel and the Jewish community. “Israel is a legitimate country, and I completely support their right to exist,” he said. “Similarly, members of the Jewish community are very faithful and family-oriented, which I am as well and is the reason why I believe I should earn their vote and ask for their support as I campaign for governor.”

Tippins: High-Tech SEAL

Clay Tippins says his Navy SEAL experience is exactly what Georgia needs now.

Former Navy SEAL Clay Tippins has no political experience, but the business executive and consultant still won a Republican Jewish Coalition straw poll in March as the first choice of 42 percent of the people who attended a candidate forum. Tippins said the combination of deep business and military experience may be better than a political background the next eight to 10 years. One area where Tippins said he has used his experience as a SEAL is in the fight against sex trafficking. Metro Atlanta is one of the worst areas for sex trafficking. But some friends who served with Tippins have provided intelligence to police to help take down traffickers. Tippins said he can use the techniques and methods he learned as a Navy SEAL to map out networks and catch criminals. One of the most important challenges Georgia faces, Tippins said, is getting every thirdgrader to read. “It’s the cornerstone of our future as a state and the cornerstone of every child’s life. You take a child that grows up in a poverty-stricken home;

that child hears 30 million words less by the time they are 6, so that child has a 30-millionword crack running through his future,” he said. “You trace that crack out another 15 to 20 years, and it’s insurmountable. We call that prison beds, entitlements and lost tax revenue because that child is underemployed or unemployable.” He said Gov. Nathan Deal has made progress on reading, “but I would seek to carry that forward and make it my most urgent education mission.” Tippins said he supports tax credits for donations to private school scholarships and backs charter schools for bringing parents into the educational decision-making for their children. Tippins stands firm against illegal immigration in Georgia. He said: “America has always been driven by legal immigration. It’s not right and fair for people who came here legally to have a different system from those who seek to come here illegally. We are simply a nation of laws, and that’s how we seek to secure the border, how to defund sanctuary cities. It isn’t an anti-immigrant status. It’s about illegal

actions and having a nationstate with laws.” Georgia is one of five states without a hate-crimes law, and two measures this spring that had the support of the AntiDefamation League, House Bill 660 and Senate Bill 373, would have increased punishments for crimes motivated by the victim’s actual or perceived race, religion, national origin, disability, gender, homeless status or sexual orientation. But neither even reached the House floor for a vote. In a statement Tippins said: “Laws need to be clear for them to be enforced properly. Hate-crimes legislation has the potential for different judicial outcomes based on subjective decisions of prosecutors.” Deployed to the Middle East, Tippins saw firsthand the threats to Israel. “Israel is never going to find a better partner than Clay Tippins, whether that is as a warrior, a governor or as a citizen,” he said. “I want to see our already strong relationship with Israel strengthened. As governor, I will work to build on the trading and cultural relationships. That is true of state government, but I also will encourage our local governments to engage in sister city relationships to allow our people, not just our governments, to grow closer.” Tippins said he will build on the business relationships Gov. Nathan Deal cultivated during a trade mission to Israel in 2014. “I’ve built my business career in the high-tech industry. As governor, I will be dedicated to expanding markets for our state’s products but also working with our businesses to build partnerships, especially in the areas of health care, fintech and security, where both Georgia and Israel are already world leaders.”

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Tippins supported Senate Bill 327, which passed in 2016, and as governor would continue to bar Georgia from contracting with companies that discriminate against Israel as part of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, he said. “As a state and as a people, we can never be supportive of these anti-Semitic and antiIsraeli bullying tactics.” Tippins also supports the purchase of Israel Bonds to help maintain ties between the Jewish state and Georgia. “The purchase of Israel bonds is a sound investment that sends a moral message,” he said. “The Israeli economy is one of the strongest in the world. Even during the Great Recession, Israel maintained positive economic growth, even as the other OECD and European economies dipped into negative territory.” He added, “It also sends a statement to the world, using our dollars of support for the state of Israel.” Republican-led efforts to enact religious liberty legislation in Georgia have run into interfaith opposition and a Deal veto in 2016. While several of his primary rivals have promised to sign such a bill, Tippins said, “I strongly support religious freedom and will do whatever it takes to defend it, but I won’t take pledges to sign undrafted legislation.” He added, “I will continue to fight for our religious liberty with the same fervor with which I defended our country as a Navy SEAL. I’m a Christian, a man of faith, and believe the government should not trample on our beliefs. I will not sign any pledge regarding future undrafted legislation, including the RFRA pledge, but promise to veto any bill that enables lawsuits against people of faith.”

Williams: Seeking Trump Bump

Michael Williams says he’s the gubernatorial candidate who was the first public official to endorse Donald Trump in 2015.

Michael Williams owned 18 barbershops until government regulations such as those under the Affordable Care Act drove him to sell his business. One result was his move into politics. The small-business owner, accountant and father of four with wife Virginia said the growth of government regulations spurred him to run and defeat the incumbent for a seat in the Senate by a 2-to-1 margin in 2014. But Williams said he didn’t know the challenges that awaited him. “I was a bit naïve, and thought I could actually make a difference, but I realized that lobbyists, special interest groups and big corporations controlled our state,” he said. The insight was one reason Williams was the first public official to endorse Donald Trump for president in 2015. “I knew he wasn’t bought and paid for by those same groups.” Among his many frustrations are candidates who say one thing but do another. “You might not always agree with what I say, but I am consistent and genuine.” He wants to end the state income tax, which he said is possible by expanding offshore drilling and growing hemp. He said that eliminating the state income tax would en-

able the state to get rid of waste in the government. “Our budget has gone from $15 billion to over $26 billion in the past eight years, which is a 76 percent increase. Yet we haven’t seen a 76 percent increase in government services.” Williams is an adamant supporter of the Second Amendment and held a giveaway for a bump stock in protest of calls after the Las Vegas massacre to ban the devices. “It’s the Second Amendment that protects all of our rights, not just from foreign invasion, but from our own government,” Williams said. “We can see it in the media and a lot of discussions that the right is being attacked and infringed upon, but people have a right to keep and bear arms, which we do not need to give up.” Williams is a co-signer of the constitutional carry bill. The most important factor leading to a child’s success in education is the involvement of a parent, Williams said, which is why he carried House Bill 217 to the Senate floor and supports an increase in the cap on the tax credit for donations funding private school scholarships from $58 million to $100 million. “We need to empower parents to make the decisions they need,” Williams said. “Whether

it is a private or a public school or an educational savings account that can be used to help pay for tutoring, parents need to be in charge.” He considers himself religious and believes that America’s foundation was built on Judeo-Christian values, which are being attacked by the left and the media, he said. “I have been the most vocal candidate trying to protect our religious freedoms we have. Our Constitution gives us the right to freely exercise our religion not just in our homes, in our churches or in our synagogues, but in the public square. But that is being taken from us.” Williams co-sponsored religious liberty legislation that passed in 2016 but was vetoed by Gov. Nathan Deal. He considers all crimes to be hate crimes. “We should have parities when it comes to breaking the law, but one of the things I’ve noticed is that people try to fragment us and impose identity politics,” Williams said. “Of course I don’t support any form of hate crime, but I don’t want to further fragment our society. We are all Americans. We all need to be seen as Americans and support each other, and if somebody breaks the law, they need to be held accountable to the fullest extent.” Like the other Republican gubernatorial candidates, Williams supports strengthening the relationship between Israel and Georgia. “I think it’s important to have those direct investments in Georgia and to be able to partner with Israel to create strategic alliances that will help strengthen our economies.” As a result, Williams supports the 2016 Georgia law that bans the state from doing business with any contractor that boycotts Israel.


6TH DISTRICT

Meet the 4 Aiming to Flip the 6th Democratic hopes to capture the 6th Congressional District for the first time since the 1970s produced the most expensive congressional election in U.S. history less than 11 months ago, but the result was the same as it had been in every election since Newt Gingrich won the seat in 1978: a Republican in office. After defeating novice candidate Jon Ossoff last June, Rep. Karen Handel has no opposition within her party as she seeks re-election this year, but four more Democrats without a political campaign in their combined history are competing in the May 22 primary to challenge her in November. Kevin Abel, Bobby Kaple, Steven Knight Griffin and Lucy McBath — all of whom, unlike Ossoff last year, live within the 6th District — each have stories that have compelled them to seek office in the second year of the Trump administration, and each has personal involvement in some aspect of the policy issues that are part

of this campaign. All four sat down for interviews with the AJT. Abel (kevinabelforcongress.com), a member of Temple Sinai, immigrated to the United States from South Africa in 1979 when he was 14. In addition to having what he called “an immigrant’s love for this country,” he has been active in refugee resettlement as a board member of New American Pathways and led Sinai’s efforts to sponsor a refugee family last year — until Trump’s executive orders on immigration and refugees got in the way. Abel would be Georgia’s first Jewish congressman in more than 30 years. Abel also is a cancer survivor, and he said health care policy joins immigration as the issues he talks most about during campaign appearances. Kaple (bobbykaple.com) emphasizes that health care was the motivating factor in his decision to quit his job as the morning news anchor on CBS 46 to run for Congress. His wife, Rebecca, a sports broadcaster for Fox Sports South, gave birth to premature twins

McBath: Finding a Mission

Lucy McBath

weighing 3 pounds each 2½ years ago, and they spent 17 days in the neonatal intensive care unit at Piedmont Hospital. The resulting medical bills in the hundreds of thousands of dollars — “the kinds of bills that can bankrupt a family” — led him to switch from covering the news to making it after he watched President Donald Trump and the Republican Congress spend 2017 trying to undo the Affordable Care Act. Griffin (stevenknightgriffin.com), who left “the most humbling and meaningful job I’ve held” with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to enter the race, said he couldn’t sit quietly while Trump caused new things to go wrong in the country every day. After 2½ years in a committed gay relationship, he said, he wondered what kind of country he would have to raise a family. “I felt it was my duty, as someone who has essentially dedicated their life to public service and to the civil service, to shift that trajectory in a more positive direction.” While Kaple might have the most familiar face locally, Lucy McBath’s knowledge of gun issues after her son’s death led Rep. Renitta Shannon (D-Decatur) to recruit her as a legislative candidate last year. After campaigning for Hillary Clinton for a year and experiencing her shocking loss, McBath retreated to her Marietta home for a hip replacement and a long-planned three months of self-care. During that time, the Trinity Chapel member said she prayed for guidance on what to do next: “What do I do? Where do I go from here? How do I expand

the message? How do I do the work? … “Whatever door You open, I’ll go.” She didn’t have any desire to run for office, but people kept urging her to run, and groups such as Emily’s List and the Georgia Democratic Party honored her and pushed her toward that path, preparing her for Shannon’s pitch. “I’m not a politician. I am not,” McBath said. “But my reality is everything I’ve been talking about to people around the country and specifically my district, I’ve lived that reality.” Continued on page 20 19 VOTERS’ GUIDE - MAY 18 ▪ 2018

By Michael Jacobs mjacobs@atljewishtimes.com

McBath (lucyforcongress.com) is the only one of the four with a national profile — one she earned the most difficult way possible. Her son, Jordan Davis, was fatally shot at age 17 while sitting as a passenger in a car at a gas station in Jacksonville, Fla., when a man decided the music from the car was too loud. McBath, a two-time breast cancer survivor who worked as a flight attendant for Delta Air Lines for 30 years, became a crusader against gun violence and traveled the nation with Everytown for Gun Safety and, in support of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, with Mothers of the Movement. An initial plan to run for the Georgia General Assembly took a federal turn when she got off a plane in Colorado on Feb. 14 and learned about the school massacre in Parkland, Fla. The deaths of teenagers in Florida hit close to home for McBath. “I was heartbroken, and I was angry at the same time because I felt like ‘What do our legislators not get? What do they not understand?’” she said.


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She said people around the 6th are afraid “because they don’t know from day to day what’s coming out of Washington. They’re concerned that there’s no consistency. They’re concerned with, you know, how are we going to make ends meet? … They’re concerned about education. They’re concerned about health care.” And they want and deserve representatives who will work across the aisle to find solutions to this country’s problems, including gun violence, she said. “When it’s all or nothing, then our people get nothing — nothing.” Her priority is to apply common sense to reduce gun violence “because we’ve got to do something.” But she insisted that she has no desire to infringe on the Second Amendment. “I’m absolutely for making sure that we’re keeping people’s ability to own guns,” McBath said. “But, with that, you’ve got to have some responsibility about how you use your guns and where you use your guns.” She opposes concealedcarry reciprocity, which she called the National Rifle Association’s No. 1 priority, because it would undermine state and local gun controls. She said Congress can take actions that should be nonpartisan, such as applying background checks to all gun sales and instituting red-flag laws, enabling loved ones to get temporary restraining orders against gun owners at risk of hurting themselves or others. “When we put in those common-sense solutions, justifiable-homicide and murder rates drop,” she said. “Research and data back it up.” But McBath is not just the gun control candidate. She has strong, biblically

based feelings for Israel, which is why she named her son Jordan after many years of trying to become pregnant. “I also understand the importance of the close U.S. alliance with Israel to our national security, as well as peace in the Middle East and around the world,” McBath said. “We also must remember the critical role Israel plays as the Middle East’s only true democracy and as a refuge for people fleeing anti-Semitism.” She noted her opposition to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and said she hopes to visit Israel for the first time after the election (she had to cancel a planned trip in 2015 when she started working for Everytown for Gun Safety). She backs a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with assurances that Israel is secure and Jewish, and worries that moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem now threatens the peace process. On health care, she said it’s important to build on the Affordable Care Act to ensure access to care for all, not dismantle the law and start over. “That’s not a Republican issue or a Democratic issue; that’s a human rights issue. That’s an infringement upon their civil and human rights to be able to live freely and be able to live as long as they can live a good life and be healthy,” McBath said. The solutions should include a public option and possibly a lower eligibility age for Medicare. “The only reason I’m here is because I had access to health care” as a Delta employee, the two-time breast cancer survivor said. It was during one of her battles with cancer that her son moved from his native Cobb County to Florida to live

with McBath’s ex-husband while she got healthy. She said Jordan told her that his new classmates in Jacksonville were smart but were off the radar for Ivy League recruiters and rarely had hopes beyond community college. She found that to be true when she was invited to the high school graduation after Jordan’s death in 2012. “I could count on my hands how many were going outside Florida for school.” Years earlier, she had homeschooled Jordan in Douglas County to escape a failing school. Her son’s experiences convinced her of the need to improve funding for public education, which she said is vital in each community. She started the Champion in the Making Legacy Foundation to help kids go to college in the 6th District. It has supported students at Kennesaw State and Georgia State and last year gave out almost $5,000 in academic scholarships. It includes a mentorship program with an emphasis on STEM skills. “These are some of the things that I’m concerned for Georgia. Jordan was born and raised here. I live here,” McBath said. She said young people are the key to the country and her campaign. “They’re the demographic we’ve needed to stand up and go to the polls. This is their civil rights movement,” McBath said. “I am so grateful and so thankful that they are being engaged for their futures. We’ve needed them to stand up.” The national debt, projected to grow by an additional $1.5 trillion under the tax law enacted late in 2017, gives her another reason to fear for the future of those young people. “Middle-income families and small businesses are basi-

cally the backbone of the United States, and I would love to be able to make sure that they are getting the tax incentives and the tax relief that they need,” McBath said. “So I’m very, very concerned about all of the benefits and the freebies and the tax benefits that are being given to the multinational corporations. I just don’t think that’s fair. I don’t think that’s right.” Her thoughts on some other issues: • She opposes President Donald Trump’s planned border wall and his executive orders on immigration and supports comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for people in this country illegally. “If we have the ability to make sure that people can live a better way because we are a nation of immigrants, then we should afford them that opportunity.” • The current Iranian regime is a threat to the rest of the Middle East, but the 2015 nuclear deal should remain in effect. • The minimum wage should be raised to a livable level. The resulting reduced financial stress would help families stay together. • The federal government should use law enforcement agencies and existing laws, including the hate-crimes statute, to combat rising antiSemitism, while national leaders speak out against hate and the Education Department develops and funds anti-bias programs in schools. A decade ago, McBath thought she’d still be flying three days a week and moving toward retirement at age 62. “But this matters because I have had these experiences,” she said. “This has been my reality. … That’s why I feel it’s so important for me to step up.”


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Steven Knight Griffin

Steven Knight Griffin grew up in the 6th District, graduating from Lassiter High School in East Cobb before getting a history degree from the University of Georgia, and he lives in it still in the eastern corner where Tucker, Doraville and Brookhaven come together. Aside from his concerns about Donald Trump, his political run is inspired by what he sees as Karen Handel’s absentee representation. From Day 1, he said, “I want to be there for the people that I actually seek to represent.” He vows to hold monthly town halls with constituents. At 30, he has spent his career in government work. He was a consultant with Deloitte, working on budget justifications for the CDC, then went to work with the agency, helping translate its science into policy in the areas of autism, early childhood development, and the prevention of fetal alcohol syndrome and birth defects such as spina bifida. Health care thus is at the forefront of his federal concerns. As someone who gets health insurance from the exchange, he said he understands the concerns people have about a lack of options and increasing premiums. His prescription for the

health care system starts with putting an end to trying to repeal and otherwise undermine the Affordable Care Act. He wants the government to make the promised payments to insurers to cover the sickest people, to restore the individual mandate and to stop pushing cheap, noncompliant plans, which draw healthy young people away from the exchanges and lead to higher premiums for everyone else and a destabilized system. Like Lucy McBath, he wants a public option, which he said would ensure consumers have a choice and would create price competition. Also like McBath, Griffin advocates broad-consensus gun safety measures, including gun violence restraining orders and a more thorough universal background check system that eliminates the loophole for private sales and covers sales of ammunition. “I’m a gun owner myself,” he said. “It’s incumbent upon us as responsible gun owners to listen to concerns and take actions that protect rights and protect children in schools.” Schools themselves need to be more secure, with single entry points and armed officers on duty, but Griffin doesn’t want to turn them into prisons. With his moral development influenced by his membership in the Episcopal Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, Griffin said it’s important for elected officials to provide moral leadership, something “that unfortunately has been lacking in the White House.” As part of the LGBTQ community, he takes the rising assertiveness of hate groups personally. He said it’s disturbing that they feel confident to demonstrate in public, though sunlight can serve as a disinfec-

tant. “Allowing these groups to fester in the dark is not healthy for democracy either.” Griffin expressed strong support for Israel. “I’m actually surprised that we need to have this conversation,” he said, detailing Israel’s right to defend itself and the many reasons the United States should stand with the one representative democracy in the Middle East. Speaking before Trump’s decision to drop out of the Iran nuclear deal, he said the agreement isn’t perfect but should be improved, not eliminated. That agreement is an example of the “assertive nonintervention” approach Griffin thinks should be at the heart of U.S. foreign policy around the world: engagement with allies to address problems with resorting to military force. The United States needs to be involved — the vacuum left by U.S. withdrawal produces disasters such as the rise of Islamic State and the Syrian civil war — but should not be the world’s policeman, he said. To that end, he said it’s important for Congress to reassert its war powers and revoke the blanket authorization for military force granted to presidents since 2001. Griffin, who used a Pell Grant at UGA, wants that federal need-based scholarship program expanded to cover the full need of any student in STEM courses at a public university — with the possibility of moving to nontechnical courses in the future. Bigger Pell Grants, lower interest rates on student loans and expanded loan forgiveness for people who work in public service will chip away at the debt burden carried by college graduates, he said. Education “is how you break the cycle of poverty. This is how you stimulate the econ-

omy,” he said. The economy also needs immigrants, Griffin said, although tech companies should have to justify bringing in foreign workers on H1-B visas instead of hiring Americans. He wants a path to citizenship for people brought here illegally as children, although they shouldn’t be able to sponsor legal immigration for their parents. “In my mind, it is incredibly inhumane and contrary to the spirit and values that we hold dear to throw these children out of the country right now,” he said, and he feels the same way about any mass deportation efforts. He is against a border wall, which he said would be a waste of money that would harm the environment and would do nothing for the many people who enter the country on legal visas, then don’t leave as required. Despite a lot of angry rhetoric, he said the broad contours of a bipartisan approach to comprehensive immigration reform are visible. It should include a one-time amnesty, he said, and a legal system that is easier to navigate. Ultimately, Griffin said he stands out from his Democratic opponents because of his experience with a federal agency, including dealing with Congress and appropriations. He said his knowledge of public policy makes him an ideal candidate against Handel “because I know what I’m talking about.” He’s also the kind of person America needs more of in elected office, someone who isn’t rich and isn’t a celebrity, he said. “I am an everyday person who has stood up, and I want to make sure that we have representation that actually represents us.” Continued on page 22 21 VOTERS’ GUIDE - MAY 18 ▪ 2018

Griffin: Being There


Continued from page 21

the law, which Kaple: Getting Healthy kill survived because

VOTERS’ GUIDE - MAY 18 ▪ 2018

Bobby Kaple

22

Bobby Kaple said health care is “a big area of disagreement with me and Representative (Karen) Handel,” stemming from his experience with his twin children. Like the other Democrats in the 6th District race, he wants Congress to stop undermining the Affordable Care Act and instead commit to stabilizing the health care market, where the chaos caused by the repeated attempts to repeal the law have helped drive up premiums. The law should ensure coverage for pre-existing conditions without lifetime caps, and Medicare should be freed to negotiate drug prices. A 15 percent cut in Medicare drug costs could save $600 billion over 10 years, money that could help keep insurance costs down. “The first thing that has to happen is that Congress has to want to stabilize the marketplace and not want the market to fail,” Kaple said. The Alpharetta resident draws inspiration from the Republican failure to repeal the ACA, aside from removing the individual mandate as part of the tax overhaul. He said he and his wife would watch C-SPAN late into the night every time a vote came up to

that’s what the American people wanted. “When you’re calling for your own life or you’re calling for your twins’ lives and you know that your lawmaker doesn’t hear you, you can no longer sit in a newsroom anymore and simply report on the story, in our case. I just felt like we’re better than this as a country,” Kaple said in explaining how the health care fight led to his campaign, which has received endorsements from the likes of Andrew Young, Roy Barnes and Max Cleland. Kaple said the world needs more assertive, consistent U.S. leadership. He said no one knows what U.S. foreign policy is under President Donald Trump, who has left a global power vacuum. “It’s important that we have people who know what they’re talking about and know what they’re doing running the foreign policy and not doing this based on the chants at a campaign rally,” Kaple said. He said the United States has no greater friend in the Middle East than Israel and should stand shoulder to shoulder with the Jewish state. “It should be crystal-clear that is the case. This is too important to mess around with.” Given that it has been American law for more than 20 years, Kaple said the U.S. Embassy’s move to Jerusalem shouldn’t be controversial, but the way Trump is doing it has made it so. He called the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement a big problem. “I do not support it. I think it is not helpful to have anti-Semitism spread through the world like that, and I just think anything we can do to shut that down is positive.” Kaple said Congress could

easily take four positive steps on gun control that have broad public support: tightening background checks; closing the gun show loophole on those checks; banning bump stocks; and banning gun sales to people on the terrorist watch list. “Those are things we should be doing immediately,” he said. Kaple said nothing should be off the table when it comes to school safety. “We need to figure out how to keep our children safe. … This should be an issue both parties care about. It’s certainly something I care about.” He said college finances must be addressed so that people who qualify can attend without a crushing debt burden. But he said the problem needs to be studied, with the possibility of a multiprong solution, and he advocated better alignment of worker skills and jobs through technical schools. He would not commit on the question of free public college education, but he did talk about the importance of millennials to his campaign. “We’ve been really honored to have the support of so many young people from high school and college,” he said. He’s against a border wall and thinks that’s an issue on which lawmakers could act if they would listen “to people who know what they’re talking about,” something he said Trump doesn’t do very often. He made clear that while Handel is his target, she “is a member of the Trump army.” “I don’t think we can ignore the elephant in the room that is President Trump,” he said, accusing Trump and Handel of race-baiting and fearmongering. “People are ready for some stability and some decency again,” Kaple said, adding that he doesn’t let his toddler twins

watch TV news for fear they’ll repeat at preschool the things Trump says. He called the 2017 tax law, which is projected to add $1.5 trillion to the national debt over a decade, a “giveaway to richest 500 families in the country,” paid for by cutting Social Security and Medicare and “mortgaging our future to China.” He wants to go through the tax law line by line to sort out what should be repealed, and he opposes changing Social Security to balance the budget. “There’s no reason that a group of 400-plus lawmakers can’t come together in one room and figure out how to balance the federal budget of America,” Kaple said. “People are doing it across the world in other countries.” He said the key to beating Handel and flipping the 6th District is to be a fighter. He told of his first efforts to get into radio broadcasting as a 17-year-old in high school. He recorded himself doing play-by-play announcing and took the tape to the local station, only to be told he had to line up sponsors if he wanted a show. He pounded the pavement until he had the backing, launching a career that led him to Atlanta and CBS 46. The same traits won over Young, Kaple said. “He discovered the same thing that that general manager discovered all those years ago, which is that I’m a fighter, and I’m not only a Democrat who can beat Karen in the fall, but one that you can be proud to vote for.” He said his Presbyterian faith helps make him such a candidate. “For me, it’s about kindness. It’s about compassion. It’s about helping other people and doing what you can to leave this Earth a better place than when you found it.”


Abel: Meeting in the Middle

Kevin Abel

Kevin Abel — who has an electrical engineering degree but never worked as an engineer, instead starting in technology consulting and eventually launching, running and in 2015 selling a tech company — said he always thought he would end up in the public sector in some form. He prepared for a second career in public service through involvement with community agencies, including the boards of New American Pathways, the Carter Center, the Davis Academy and the Metro Atlanta Chamber. Still, Abel never thought about running for Congress while living in the 6th District for a quarter-century. Then Jon Ossoff almost won, and the day after the June runoff, Abel wrote a letter to the editor in which he described the Democrat who could succeed: a businessman who had created jobs and balanced budgets, a district resident deeply involved in the community, “and maybe a Democrat who’s not so tied to the (party) establishment.” He was describing himself, and by late October he was committed to the race. But although he is determined to win the primary and the general election, Abel rejects talk of “flipping the 6th.”

It’s “a term that sets Republicans on edge and makes them think this is just another Democrat trying to win a seat,” the Sandy Springs resident said. “This is not about another Democrat trying to add another D to the column. This is about someone who thinks he can best represent the 6th and more broadly represent what’s better or ideal for America. So I want Republican votes. I can win Republican votes.” While all four Democrats spoke of bipartisan measures and appealing to independents and Republicans unhappy with President Donald Trump, Abel has made his crossover appeal a core part of his campaign. “I believe that central path is the right way to go, and we need a candidate who fits there,” he said, estimating that the $40 million spent for the Ossoff campaign probably brought out most of the Democrats in the district. “That’s the right type of candidate to win, and I fit that model.” He cited the two Republicans he ran with three days a week when he lived in Alpharetta and with whom he still runs in Sandy Springs. “I always felt that we had more in common than separated us.” Abel has the big picture in mind. He said most Americans hold views that put them between the 30-yard lines on a football field, while the Fox and MSNBC and the commentators they highlight prefer to play in the red zones (inside the 20-yard lines, at the political extremes). Abel hopes that over a few elections Americans will send 40 to 45 centrists to the House, and they will hold the key to any legislation. “I don’t fixate on who sits in the White House at any point in time because I think the real systemic, endemic

problems in this country are in Congress, and it’s moved toward the extremes — this divisiveness not only in Washington, but in the populace as a whole,” he said. “My idealist, simple sense of how to fix this is by finding common ground in the center.” That common ground includes improvements to the Affordable Care Act. “We are the richest country in the world, and no American should be one diagnosis away from losing their home,” Abel said. “Every American should have access to affordable health care, so let’s put policy in place that makes that a reality because we’re smart people and we can do it.” The improved system would include the individual mandate, expanded Medicaid in all 50 states and Medicare negotiations on drug prices. It also would make use of accountable care organizations, an approach that rewards providers for the quality of outcomes rather than the quantity of care. “This idea that private enterprise will take care of it is silly. It’s not working. It hasn’t worked,” he said. By comparison with health care, fixing the immigration system should be easy, starting with the 2013 bill that passed the Senate but never got a House vote. As a representative of a successful immigrant story, albeit someone who was too young to understand the difficulties of the system when he arrived at age 14 in 1979, Abel has clear views on what an immigration overhaul should include, such as a path to citizenship for people who came here illegally and enhanced border enforcement and security technology. “But this idea of a wall just

appeals to a hateful, nativist instinct and the ugliest part of the American soul,” he said. He doesn’t like that the United States welcomed only 25,000 refugees in 2017 after President Barack Obama had raised the maximum to 100,000 from an annual average of about 70,000. The U.S. reduction came despite the largest global refugee population since World War II. “It’s just wrong. We are not fulfilling our responsibility. Not just our responsibility on the world stage, but our responsibility as Americans,” Abel said. Based on his experience at New American Pathways, a resettlement agency, Abel said refugees get little government support for only six months. They also work in poultry plants and warehouses — critical jobs no one else wants. He said refugees, particularly from Muslim-majority countries, are targets of the same sort of hate seen in public expressions of anti-Semitism. “Permission is being given to that part of the human soul,” he said. “Hate will find expression. … Anti-Semitism is one of those expressions.” He is a strong supporter of Israel, where an uncle moved his family in 1974. He backs the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and badly wants to see a two-state solution but doesn’t think the United States should set preconditions for talks. His Judaism is a primary driver for who he is and what he believes, starting with tikkun olam (repairing the world) “It’s my favorite, favorite expression,” he said. “Everything you do, no matter how small or how large, that makes the world a better place is a mitzvah. It’s the right thing to do. It makes you human. It validates your humanity.”

VOTERS’ GUIDE - MAY 18 ▪ 2018

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23


PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION

Miller Campaigns to Make Georgia History By Dave Schechter dschechter@atljewishtimes.com

VOTERS’ GUIDE - MAY 18 ▪ 2018

There’s nothing sexy about the Georgia Public Service Commission. (No cheating: Can you name any of the five PSC commissioners?) In 2016, a half-million fewer Georgians — about 12 percent of the electorate — voted in the statewide election of a PSC commissioner than voted for president. The PSC regulates what we pay for electricity, natural gas and land-line telecommunications and how those utilities are delivered. Since 1879, only three women have served as commissioners, and only one was elected. Governors appointed the other two to fill vacancies. The last Democrat elected to the commission was David Burgess in 2000 (also the first African-American on the panel). Lindy Miller is seeking to disrupt that history in her quest for the PSC’s District 3 seat, representing Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton and Rockdale counties. Although the commissioners represent districts, they are elected statewide. No Jewish woman has won a statewide race in Georgia, so there’s that history, too. A victory in the Democratic primary would advance Miller to the Nov. 6 general election against incumbent Republican Chuck Eaton, who was elected in 2006 and won re-election in 2012, and Libertarian challenger Ryan Graham. PSC commissioners are elected to six-year terms that pay $116,452 per year. At present, all five are Republicans. Miller’s professional résumé includes 13 years at Deloitte, a global business con24 sulting firm, rising to associate

director of public policy for Deloitte Global. Two years ago, she cofounded a solar energy company, Cherry Street Energy (“a nights and weekends passion project because I had a lot of time, raising three little boys and working full time,” she quipped during an interview at her Decatur home). Her Jewish résumé includes the Congregation Beth Jacob preschool and the former Greenfield Hebrew Academy (now part of Atlanta Jewish Academy), Congregation B’nai Torah (which her parents helped found and where she became a bat mitzvah), and Congregation Shearith Israel (where she is a board member). The AJT included the 39-year-old Miller among its 2017 40 Under 40 honorees. Miller connects Jewish values with serving on the PSC. “This is a seat about social justice. When we think about how we grow the state, is our growth inclusive, or is it leaving people behind? That’s a Jewish value. When we think about the burdens people bear to meet their everyday needs — we have many ethics in Judaism, and many commandments that require us to think about the vulnerable. And this is a seat that shapes our energy policy and therefore impacts our environment. And when you think about tikkun olam, of repairing the world, this is a seat that matters,” she said. Miller traces her interest in public service to childhood. “When I was 5, I used to tell people that I was going to be the first female president of the United States,” she said. Miller’s parents, Nola and Charles, were part of the mid1970s exodus of Jews from South Africa, in their case out

of a desire to not raise children in a country where racial separation and discrimination were ingrained in law. Nola, trained as a pharmacist, was unable to afford the expense of requalifying for such work in America and stayed home, raising Miller and her younger brother. Charles told his daughter that, back in South Africa, he had read an article in Fortune magazine about Charles Ackerman, the legendary Atlanta real estate developer. Miller contacted Ackerman, who offered him a job, and that was his entry to the field in Atlanta. Lindy Miller remembers living in an apartment complex in the Chamblee-Tucker area populated by Jewish immigrants from South Africa and Quebec. The family later moved to Sandy Springs, where Miller’s parents still live. Miller is a graduate of Woodward Academy, the University of Pennsylvania and the Harvard Kennedy School. She and her husband, Rabbi Jonathan Crane, have three sons: Nadav, 9, Amitai, 7, and Rafi, 4. Like his brothers before him, Rafi attends the Intown Jewish Preschool, but his mother no longer has time to serve as a classroom parent. “I had a professor in grad school who said the most important career decision you make is who you marry. It’s been true for me,” Miller said. “I think that so much of what we’re able to do is because of the support we get.” In addition to their membership at Shearith Israel, the Miller/Crane household is part of two havurot, one that meets monthly on a Friday night for Shabbat and another that meets on Saturday evenings for Havdalah.

Lindy Miller wants to be the first Jewish woman to win a partisan statewide election in Georgia.

“The reason I can run is because of my parents, and the reason I have to run is because of my kids,” Miller said. Her reaction to the initial suggestion that she take her business and energy experience to the PSC was “That’s the least sexy thing anyone has ever said to me.” But Miller believes that the commissioners have acted contrary to the public interest “because the Public Service Commission is everything that’s wrong with government. There’s no transparency. There’s no accountability. There’s no public voice. … It is the epitome of the good old boys network,” she said. But the commission “has a critical set of roles to play. One, in our everyday lives, because of our bills. And the second is that they’re responsible for creating the infrastructure that forms the foundation for all of our economic development. And the challenges, when you’ve got folks in these seats who are beholden to industry, who are rubber-stamping decisions, who aren’t bringing a vision of what’s possible and looking at what the future holds for a state like Georgia,


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you miss so many opportunities,” Miller said. Ethics watchdogs contend that the PSC maintains cozy relationships with the utilities. “I believe that business can be a force for good. I’m a capitalist, but I don’t believe that you can socialize risk and privatize gain. That’s what is happening in the Public Service Commission,” Miller said. Miller points to the ongoing saga of the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, a nuclear power station near Waynesboro, as an example. The PSC voted unanimously in January to continue construction of two nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle (whose two existing reactors went online in the late 1980s), even though the project is several years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget — and consumers are paying before the reactors are operating. “Vogtle has been decided

by the sitting commissioners, and Vogtle has been a fiasco,” Miller said. “Every family in this state on average has paid $100 a year for the last six years” to finance the project. Plant Vogtle is jointly owned by Georgia Power (45.7 percent), Oglethorpe Power Corp. (30 percent), Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (22.7 percent) and Dalton Utilities (1.6 percent). Estimates of the cost for the Plant Vogtle expansion, initially $11.5 billion, now range as high as $30 billion. “Nuclear power in this country has been a very important bridge to a carbonfree future. Over 54 percent of our carbon-free electricity in this country is generated by nuclear plants. That said, anyone who says nuclear power is clean … nuclear power generates waste that we haven’t learned how to deal with. It uses a tremendous amount of

water and concrete and other materials,” Miller said. “Do I believe that we should shut down every plant? No. I think we would set ourselves back many decades in our search for a carbon-free future. Do I think we should be building new plants, these large-scale nuclear projects? No, they’re just too expensive. “Energy efficiency is the cheapest resource. We always talk about addressing the supply side, but we don’t talk a lot about the demand side. And if you can reduce demand, you’re saving money and saving resources.” Campaignng, Miller has learned that “you don’t win on qualifications alone.” “At the end of the day, I think, people care if you relate to them, if they relate to you. People are looking for leaders they can trust. People are looking for leaders who are competent. … What they care about is,

does she get my problems, and can I trust her to do something about it? … The most important thing is, are you listening to me? Do you hear the problems I’m facing and, moreover, will you amplify that when you’re elected? Will you be a voice for me and represent my interests, my family’s interests, my business’s interests, if I elect you? That’s what people care about. That’s what I care about. And that’s what I think is broken,” she said. In her closing remarks at a May 3 debate, Miller said: “I’m not an expert in everything that the commission covers or that we talked about. I know what I’m good at. I’m good at listening. I’m good at asking questions. And I am really good at standing up when I see that something is wrong.” As for the incumbent, she offered this play on names: “I say chuck him out. It’s Miller time.”

3 Democrats Hope to Unseat GOP Incumbent There was an odd moment at the May 3 debate among the Democrats seeking to represent District 3 on the Georgia Public Service Commission. One of the three candidates, Johnny C. White, was represented by an empty chair at the forum, sponsored by the Atlanta Press Club and Georgia Public Broadcasting. (White blamed his absence on a scheduling conflict.) When the candidates were given an opportunity to question an opponent, John Noel addressed White’s empty chair rather than Lindy Miller. Noel’s question suggested that he thinks Georgia Power put up White to dilute his challenge. Whichever of Miller, Noel

or White wins will face Republican incumbent Chuck Eaton and Libertarian Ryan Graham in the Nov. 6 general election. The winner will serve a six-year term representing Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton and Rockdale counties. In 1999, Noel founded Energy + Environment, a company that “specializes in energy efficient lighting upgrades for commercial and industrial clients,” according to its website. He won election to the Georgia House from District 44 in 2002 but was unseated in the 2004 Democratic primary. At the debate, Noel criticized the PSC’s decision to allow the continued construction of two nuclear reactors at the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, near Waynesboro. He rejected the idea that

Plant Vogtle is a done deal, saying that, if elected, he would push the PSC to shift the cost burden from ratepayers to the shareholders of Georgia Power and the plant’s other owners. “I’ll take it to Georgia Power,” Noel pledged, a sentiment he repeated during the debate. “We should move to a clean and green future,” particularly as solar energy and other technologies become less expensive, he said. The primary boils down to electability, Noel said. “People are mad about high utility bills, mad at a crooked system that is broken. We want a champion who will fight against the establishment.” White brings a different résumé to the race. “I have 39 years of information technology experience. No other candi-

date has the level of knowledge and depth of experience that I have,” he told the AJT. “My No. 1 priority if elected would be security. Remember the recent hacking of Atlanta’s computer networks and the risk of cyberattacks by foreign nations? I would work to make sure Georgia’s power infrastructure and ratepayer data is not vulnerable to hackers,” White said. A cyberattack could damage the infrastructure, he said. “There have been known occurrences of that happening. Nobody’s talking about that.” As for Plant Vogtle, “I believe an assessment should be done to determine as to whether to scale back construction, in order to know what would be the better outcome for ratepayers,” he said. 25 VOTERS’ GUIDE - MAY 18 ▪ 2018

By Dave Schechter dschechter@atljewishtimes.com


52ND DISTRICT

Silcox Stands by Record By Sarah Moosazadeh sarah@atljewishtimes.com Rep. Deborah Silcox faces opposition in the Republican primary for Georgia’s 52nd District from Gavi Shapiro on May 22, but the freshman lawmaker said she is not worried because she addressed a number of issues during this year’s Georgia General Assembly session. Democrat Shea Roberts awaits the GOP nominee. Most of the 52nd is in Silcox’s native Sandy Springs, with a slice of Buckhead added. She said she’s proud to serve the district and its well-connected Jewish community. She won her House seat in 2016, defeating Graham McDonald to succeed Joe Wilkin-

son, who retired. Silcox’s legislative work included serving as the House sponsor for Senate Bill 356, which aims to strengthen financial and legislative support for the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust. The bill also clears the way for the commission to design and “place in a prominent location” a Holocaust memorial, paid for with private money. “I think the memorial will be a great addition to our state, and with the Anne Frank exhibit in Sandy Springs and the Holocaust Commission, I hope they find a location in Sandy Springs because it is such an important part of our community,” said Silcox, who spoke during the commission’s Days

Shapiro Offers Choice

VOTERS’ GUIDE - MAY 18 ▪ 2018

By Sarah Moosazadeh sarah@atljewishtimes.com

26

Gavi Shapiro is not letting politics interfere with his principles as an Orthodox Jew while running against incumbent Deborah Silcox in the Republican primary for Georgia’s 52nd House District on May 22. He has established himself as a tech expert and, with a few friends, started a business that provides tech support to small businesses and specializes in the computer needs of smallbusiness owners. Shapiro entered the race because of dissatisfaction with Silcox’s voting record, which he said includes support for a tax break for yacht owners. “There are plenty of people, especially veterans, who could have used the tax breaks more than people who could afford $500,000 yachts,” Shapiro said. His frustration with bu-

reaucrats who take money out of people’s pockets is one reason he is running. He also seeks to create a statewide school-choice system, fix transportation problems and repeal the state income tax, thus strengthening the economy, creating jobs and removing a burden from small businesses. Shapiro said the state Education Department wastes too much money, and parents should be able to choose how to educate their children. Georgia offers a tax credit to taxpayers who donate money to scholarship organizations supporting private schools, including Jewish day schools and preschools. The legislature passed House Bill 217 this spring to raise the cap on the credit from $58 million a year to $100 million; Silcox voted for the bill three times. “I like that this program takes a step toward expanding

of Remembrance ceremony at the Capitol on Friday, April 20. Silcox said she fully supports S.B. 327, which bans Georgia from doing business with entities that boycott Israel. “I think Israel is the United States’ strongest ally in the Middle East, and we need to maintain that relationship.” She was against a religious liberty bill that was opposed by rabbis and other religious leaders on the grounds that it would have allowed discrimination if people could present a religious justification. Among the bills Silcox has sponsored, she said she is particularly excited about the passage of House Bill 419, which gives control to local officials regarding the times when fire-

school choice,” Shapiro said. “I would like to expand it further so that a wider variety of schools are accessible to the average Georgian family.” To help fix the transportation system, private companies should operate public transportation, Shapiro said, and competition will motivate systems such as MARTA. Shapiro is a Sandy Springs native and a member of Congregation Beth Tefillah. Georgia in 2016 enacted a law to prevent it from contracting with entities that boycott Israel, but Shapiro said that measure, S.B. 327, was not strong enough. “I rarely suggest that we imitate New York, but they introduced far stronger versions of the bill.” Georgia is one of five states without a hate-crimes law, and that’s fine with Shapiro. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to make the government responsible for mindreading; that’s likely

Rep. Deborah Silcox

works may be used. In response to Shapiro’s claim that Silcox provided a tax break to yacht owners, she said H.B. 125 “has brought hundreds of jobs to the Georgia coast and employed a lot of residents down there now.” Silcox said she supports efforts to enact a hate-crimes law in Georgia.

Gavi Shapiro

to waste a lot of time and taxpayer money without helping anyone,” Shapiro said. “Criminals always have reasons for targeting their victims, even if the reasons aren’t on that list.” He and Silcox also disagree on religious liberty legislation. “The religious liberty legislation affirms the right of business owners not to do business in a way that conflicts with their personal values. The idea behind this is that people own their own labor and have the right to associate with whomever they please. … This is part of freedom of association,” Shapiro said.


HODGES KEN

COURT OF APPEALS

“I ask for your vote for the Georgia Court of Appeals. This Court helps to protect life, liberty and property rights for every citizen. I will always enforce the law – not legislate from the bench.”

a touGh prosecutor who uphoLDs the Law Deep GeorGia roots

Ken Hodges was born and raised in Albany, GA. His DEEP GEORGIA ROOTS grandfather owned and operated a hardware store.

touGh prosecutor anD effective District attorney

Ken was elected District Attorney at the age of 30. He

father worked in construction before going back cleared out the long pending death penalty KenHis was born and raised in Albany, quickly GA. His grandfather owned and operatto Hodges school and opening his own law firm. His mom cases and took them to trial. He formed trial teams and in banking andstore. then opened her own real estate in construction established programs and protocols toback betterto protect ed was a hardware His father worked before going school business, Hodges Realty. Ken and his family are very children in the county by establishing a sexual assault in the community andlaw theirfirm. church.His mom was andactive opening his own inand banking and then herDAown unit a child advocacy center. opened He was named of yearfamily for the State. course ofin12the yearscomas realthe estate Realty. Ken andthe his are Over verytheactive Law business, is More tHodges han a Job District Attorney, Ken built a reputation as being tough It is Ken’s passion. Kenchurch. has devoted countless hours on crime – even prosecuting law enforcement officials munity and their working with legal colleagues in every Georgia

who broke the law. He was elected by his peers to be community through his service with the State Bar of president of the DA’s Association and chairman of the Georgia. Its members, nearly 50,000 attorneys across Prosecuting Attorney’s Council. the State,AW put theirS trust in ORE Ken by electing him as HE HAN OB President of the State Bar of Georgia, a position he husbanD, father, coMMunity LeaDer will assume this summer. Ken is the recipient of Kenhours and his wife Melissa have married for 13 It isseveral Ken’s passion. Ken has devoted countless working withbeen legal colleagues Bar awards, including the Justice Robert years and have two young children – Margaret and BenhamGeorgia award for Community Servicethrough and the in every community his service with State Bar of Georgia. Jack. They live the and work in Albany, Georgia and are Commitment to Equality award. Ken’s passion for both involved in their local community as well as Its the members, nearly 50,000 the State,organizations. put their trust in and KenJackbyare law is more than a paycheck. It is aattorneys way of life. across with state-wide Margaret active in YMCAasports and thehe family enjoys traveling electing him as President of the State Bar of Georgia, position will assume this GraDuate froM eMory university to the kids’ soccer tournaments around the state.

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anD the university of GeorGia summer. Ken is the recipient of several Bar awards, including the Justice Robert He earned his Bachelors from Emory University in Benham award Community and Sthe Commitment to Equality award. Political Science andfor Sociology with a minorService in MALL BUSINESS OWNER English and was active in hislaw fraternity as wellthan as Ken’s passion for the is more a paycheck. Itreturned is a way of life. In 2008, Ken to private practice. He worked in being a track & field athlete. While at University of

Georgia Law School, Ken participated in a clinical program with the public defender and was sworn in

the areas of transactional law and litigation. In 2015, Ken started his own law firm, Ken Hodges Law based in

under the Third-YearF Student Practice Act to try & THE Albany Atlanta with a focus on commercial GRADUATE ROM EMORY Uand NIVERSITY OF GEORGIA cases.

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to school and opening his own law firm. His mom was in banking and then opened her own real estate SMALL BUSINESS OWNER business, Hodges Realty. Ken and his family are very In 2008, Ken returned to private practice. He worked in the areas of transactional active in the community and their church. law and litigation. In 2015, Ken started his own law firm, Ken Hodges Law based in Albany and Atlanta with a focus on commercial litigation.

the Law is More than a Job

It isPKen’s passion.&Ken has devoted countless hours TOUGH ROSECUTOR EFFECTIVE DISTRICT ATTORNEY

withAttorney legal colleagues inHeevery Ken wasworking elected District at the age of 30. quicklyGeorgia cleared out the long through histhem service the State Bar and of pendingcommunity death penalty cases and took to trial.with He formed trial teams established programs protocols tonearly better protect children in the county by Georgia. Itsand members, 50,000 attorneys across establishing sexual assault unit and a child advocacy center. He was theaState, put their trust in Ken by electing himnamed as DA of the yearPresident for the State.of Over courseBar of 12 as District Attorney, Ken thetheState ofyears Georgia, a position hebuilt a reputation as being tough on crime – even prosecuting law enforcement officials will assume this summer. Ken is the recipient of who broke the law. He was elected by his peers to be president of the DA’s Associseveral Bar awards, including the Justice Robert ation and chairman of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Council. Benham award for Community Service and the

Commitment award. Ken’s passion for HUSBAND, FATHER,toCEquality OMMUNITY LEADER

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He earned his Bachelors from Emory University in Political Science and Sociology with a minor in PROTECTING GEORGIA CITIZENS English and was active in his fraternity as well as Ken will offer Georgia citizens the broadest and most objective perspective at the being a track & field athlete. While at University of Court of Appeals. He will seek to affirmatively make changes that speed up effiGeorgia Law School, Ken participated clinical ciency while maintaining the integrity of the court system.in Healooks to positively program with the public defender and was sworn in impact the practice of law in our state and most importantly improve the outcome under the Third-Year Student Practice Act to try for our citizens. cases.

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Atlanta Jewish Times, 2018 Primary Voters' Guide  

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