Keisha Waites is a candidate for Georgia’s U.S. Congressional District 13 in the June 9 Democratic primary.
The Courier sent a list of questions to Waites about her candidacy. The questions and her answers are printed below:
- Tell us a little about your background.
- I am a 3-term former State Lawmaker, that served in the Georgia General Assembly, where I successfully authored and co-sponsored bills for the entire State of Georgia in a bi-partisan legislature. *I am currently the only candidate present on the panel today that has actually worked and served in a bi-partisan legislative body. A. Fallen Hero, HB54 B. Hands-Free Driving, HB 7 C. High- Speed Rail, HB6 D. April’s Law
- Small Business Owners: For two decades, I have provided affordable housing to families and helped them to purchase their own homes.
- I am also a trained crisis manager. I served for over 10 years as an emergency manager during our nation’s worst disasters: Hurricane Katrina, H1N1 Pandemic, Flint Water Crisis, BP Oil Spill Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Maria. Therefore, I come into this role with existing relationships on the state and federal levels.
- Former Member, Interstate Cooperation Committee, Georgia State House of Representatives
- Former Member, Juvenile Justice Committee, Georgia State House of Representatives
- Former Member, Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee, Georgia State House of Representatives
- Former Member, Special Rules Committee, Georgia State House of Representatives
- Former Member, Transportation Committee, Georgia State House of Representatives
- Why are you running for this office at this particular time?
- I am a fierce advocate for people and I am running to continue the work I began in the Georgia Legislature, to give the residents of Georgia’s 13th Congressional District an unwavering Democratic voice around the issues that matter most, and to improve the daily lives of each and every constituent in the District. In short, I am running to make a measurable difference and bring about change.
- I have grown frustrated with the partisan divide and feel that Washington has lost touch with the needs of everyday ordinary working families. I believe that my diverse background and legislative experience, which includes decades of community involvement, my service in the state legislature, and my proven background in crisis management and problem-solving combine to make me uniquely qualified to serve in Congress.
- What uniquely qualifies you for this office?
- My business acumen, civic and professional experience, which include decades of community engagement, experience serving in legislative body, and my extensive background in crisis management combine to make me uniquely qualified to serve in Congress.
- During my 3 terms in the Georgia House of Representatives, I had the privilege to work on several pieces of legislation that I care deeply about. I am proud to have authored and sponsored HB54 (Fallen Hero Bill) legislation providing cost free college tuition to the children of law enforcement and public safety officials killed in the line of duty. HB 54 was signed into law by the Governor in 2016. I am the original author and sponsor of Hands-Free Driving legislation, which successfully passed in the legislature this year keeping Georgia family’s safe on the road. I am also proud of the legislative track record, I earned in protecting working families and small business owners, helping ensure seniors can age in their homes and improving the quality of education for our youth.
- As an emergency management and crisis manager, I have over a decade of experience in providing vitally important management oversight in response to national and international disasters, including Hurricane Maria, Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Matthew, Flint Water Crisis, Hurricane Sandy, Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill, Haiti Earthquake, H1NI Pandemic, Hurricane IKE and Hurricane Katrina.
- What would your priorities be if you are elected to the House?
- Economy (In the aftermath of COVID19) working to provide support to Small Business owners and working families. Work to rebuild an economy where everyone thrives.
- Quality of Life Issues
- Constituent Services
- Affordable Housing for working families and Seniors
- Infrastructure- Regional Transportation (high-speed rail) to address gridlock
This includes advocating for clean water and air policy, working regionally to eliminate traffic congestion, improving the delivery and efficiency of services, advocating for sustainable affordable housing and ensuring that our seniors can age in their homes with dignity.
- Comment on any of these issues you’d like to:
a. a. Immigration
- The United States has been a beacon of hope for immigrants for centuries. Immigrants are a crucial part of our social and cultural fabric and our economy. But Donald Trump’s promise to deport millions of our neighbors, friends, and colleagues has sown widespread fear and anxiety across the country and threatens to tear families and entire communities apart.
b. Gun control/gun violence
- Prior the leaving the General Assembly, I led the fight on Gun Reform: sponsoring legislation to keep guns off college campuses and classrooms, common sense legislation- requiring conceal carry permit holders to obtain safety training and (April Law) legislation to keep guns out of the hands of individuals convicted domestic violence.
c. Health Care
- I believe that healthcare should be a right, not a privilege. But with healthcare under assault, Georgia’s progressive infrastructure must work overtime to defend healthcare and also seek to expand and improve it where possible. For this reason, I support a “single payer” Medicare For All-type system of universal healthcare.
d. COVID-19 response
- The reality is that each family has been impacted in different ways by COVID19. However, working families have been devasted by loss of income and unequal access to healthcare. Many of these families are people of color and seniors that operate on limited incomes. Secondly, the healthcare community has been strained and taxed by the volume of patients impacted by this pandemic. Therefore, it is necessary that our leaders be present to hear the concerns and needs of constituents and most importantly show up in times of crisis!
- The Environment
- The current administration has denied climate science and signiﬁcantly cut funding for the E.P.A., working families across the U.S. demand a response to the climate change crisis that dramatically reduces greenhouse gas emissions, creates millions of good jobs, ensures environmental justice, and protects all our communities. For this reason, I oppose the construction of new dirty energy infrastructure, such as coal plants and natural gas pipelines. Additionally, I support the Green New Deal and following measures to tackle climate reform.
- Reduce dependence on fossil fuels
- Cut gas emissions
- Create clean energy high paying jobs
- Are there any issues not listed above that are of particular interest to you that you want to talk about?
- In a large, commuting time has emerged as the single strongest factor in the odds of escaping poverty. The longer an average commute in a given county, the worse the chances of low-income families there moving up the ladder. Yet federal, state and local governments across the country have decided not to invest in, or to even cut funding from, mass transportation systems. For this reason, I am a champion for High-Speed Rail and sponsored legislation each year I was a member of the Georgia General Assembly.
- From 2012-2016, roughly 1.3 million Georgia households were renters, representing 37 percent of Georgia’s population during that time. All across the country, families are facing an affordable housing crisis, as millions of Americans struggle to afford a home.
- Give a brief pitch on why people should vote for you.
- My core values are centered around the human being. I believe every individual has the right to Life, Liberty, Happiness, Justice, and Equality. Democratic values undergird my vision of a just world for all peoples engendered by hard work and fighting for what is fundamentally right without regard to race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or nationality.
- As a woman of faith, I am guiding by a set of principles that govern every aspect of my life. Given the aftermath of COVID19, it is imperative that Washington stop business as usual and work to put people and families first! I am committed to working across the aisle to ensure families received the support and resources needed to thrive and rebound. In district 13, we have an aging population and millions of Georgians unemployed. I am a trained crisis manager and will leverage existing relationships, I have built at the federal, state and locals’ levels of government. Our leaders cannot be silent and absent when we need them most! I am the only candidate in this race that has passed legislation in a bi-partisan legislative body. My legislative track records reflect my ability to work across the aisle and effectively navigate complex problems.
For more information on the Keisha Waites campaign, visit her campaign website at www.keishawaites.com