STATESBORO — The Bulloch County Democratic Party hosted several senatorial candidates running against David Perdue in 2020 in the Williams Center multipurpose room on Friday night.
Johnathan McCollar, the mayor of Statesboro, said in his opening address that citizens should be involved in the political process by not only voting, but by being active attendees of local political meetings.
“Once you vote, show back up at the city council meetings, the county commission meetings, the board of education meetings,” McCollar said. “Let those individuals know that that you’re going to hold their feet to the fire, it’s our responsibility as a whole to make sure we leave the communities that we call home better for those that come after us.”
Ted Terry, mayor of Clarkston, Georgia and senatorial candidate,said in an interview that he was in favor of cancelling student debt,especially to alleviate the burden for people who have chosen to go into public service,healthcare and education.
“There are a lot of people out there who have undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees, and because they have chosen to go into public service and healthcare,education, other jobs that maybe don’t have as high of income as other degrees, they are looking at fifteen to twenty year paybacks,” Terry said. “That’s stymying a lot of freedoms for a lot of college graduates… so the basic policy I am supporting is a cancellation of as much if not all student debt.”
Terry also said that the decriminalization of marijuana, and the rehabilitation of offenders had been successful in Clarkston.
“When we decriminalized marijuana possession it allowed our officers to focus more on community policing, and honestly stopping real crime,” Terry said.
Terry said that ending the war on drugs and changing the way the justice system handles offenders were some solutions.
“We need to look at ending the war on drugs, and recognize that when we look at drug addiction, whether it’s marijuana cannabis or opioids, drug addiction is a public health problem not to be solved by punitive criminal measures,” Terry said. “It comes down to investment in early childhood education and access to wages that are living wages, and also recognizing that if we really wanted to end the prison pipeline we have to turn jails and prisons into truly rehabilitative systems.”
Ted Terry has served as the mayor of Clarkston since January of 2014. He was elected with 53% of the vote, and at the time was the youngest mayor in the town’s 135 year history.
Teresa Tomlinson, the two term mayor of Columbus, Georgia, appeared through a video address to speak to attendees.
“If you invest in me, if you invest in this great campaign that we have, finally we are going to be able to deliver Georgia for the Democrats,” Tomlinson said in the video. “We are going to be adding to all that we did in 2018 to finally cross the finish line and bring this victory for the Democratic Party.”
Jon Ossoff, Democratic candidate for the 6 House District in the 2017 special election, now making a run for Senate, spoke on corruption in our political system in his address to the gathering.
“The corruption in our own society and in our own politics is right in front of our eyes,” Ossoff said. “When Congress refuses to crack down on price gouging by pharmaceutical companies because of the financial influence of that industry, that is corruption. When Congress guts the Affordable Care Act, and destroys consumer protections for people with pre-existing conditions because of the power of the insurance industry, that is corruption.”
Ossoff also said that the failure by Congress to pass background checks on firearms was corruption.
“When 90% of Americans support a simple universal background check to buy a gun, and Congress refuses to act because they are afraid of the NRA and its financial power, that is corruption,” Ossoff said.
Ossoff talked in a post-speech interview about a statewide voter registration drive with Congressman John Lewis to build upon and join the work that Stacey Abrams and the New Georgia project have been doing to get Georgians registered to vote.
Ossoff also said that universal background checks and limiting access to “military-style assault rifles” would help curb gun violence in Georgia.
“Most Georgians and most Americans believe that absent some specific need, and a high qualification, assault weapons, semi-automatic rifles, derived from modern military technology should not be available to the general public,” Ossoff said. “This is common sense non-controversial gun safety legislation.”
Ossoff also said that he believed in tuition-free public college, community college, and trade school.
“We have to end this student debt crisis,” Ossoff said. “We have to achieve 100% debt-free public college, community college and trade school.” For those who have already accrued massive student loan debt, that keeps y’all lying awake at night, that keeps us from investing in our business, in a home, some combination of caps on rates and forgiveness should be blended to relieve this burden.”
When talking about the rates that credit bureaus offer on student debt, Ossoff said that transparency and reform was required.
“I support reforming the laws that regulate credit bureaus, these entities have too much power over our lives. It’s very similar to what’s happening in China with the social credit system,” Ossoff said. “A secret formula that a few companies control that determine whether we buy a home or whether we can afford starting a family, whether we can invest in our business. It’s too much power, it’s not transparent enough and it doesn’t serve us as individuals that want to build lives that are meaningful, prosperous and secure.”
Nathan Woodruff, The George-Anne Managing News Editor, [email protected]