By Arielle Robinson
Jennifer Strahan, a Republican hopeful for Georgia’s 14th Congressional District, answered the Courier’s questions about herself and her campaign over the phone Friday afternoon.
Strahan is one of several candidates challenging Marjorie Taylor Greene, a far-right freshman known for racist remarks and conspiracy theories who now represents portions of Cobb County because of a new redistricting map.
Strahan is a businesswoman and president of J. Osley & Co., a national advisory firm that specializes in healthcare.
The primary is May 24 and the general election is November 8.
Talk about your background. Who are you and why did you decide to become involved in politics?
Strahan: “Well I’ll start by saying I’m not a politician. I’m a business owner, I’m a mom, I’m a wife, a Christian. I love this country. I want my son to grow up knowing the America that I know and at the rate we’re going, he won’t have that privilege. I feel a personal calling to serve, which is why I’m running. Instead of complaining about our problems, I want to be part of the solution.
I have spent most of my career working in healthcare, partnering with hospitals and health systems not only in my district but across Georgia and nationally. My company helps health systems to improve operations and patient outcomes and essentially, overall efficiency and effectiveness — which we could certainly use more of in Congress.
I worked my way through college, starting with my associate’s degree, eventually earning my doctorate degree. I’m a professor at Georgia State University. I have the privilege of teaching in their graduate Business and Health Administration programs, which is just personally very fulfilling. I honestly didn’t plan for my career to take a turn into politics, but our country is facing very serious problems that are hurting individuals and small businesses. We have problems with our economy, runaway inflation, worker and supply chain shortages, national security, border security, and our district is left without a seat at the table or a single committee assignment to push back on the very progressive agenda of the Biden administration. Politics isn’t about being a celebrity, it’s about serving. Georgia’s 14th deserves real leadership who will put Georgia first.”
How do you think your background has prepared you to become a congress member?
“I have partnered with hundreds of organizations of all types and sizes, I’ve trained thousands of individuals and I’ve helped eliminate tens of millions of dollars in waste and wasteful spending in healthcare. Even though I’ve not held political office, I’ve worked extensively across communities to improve overall community well-being, partnering with county administrators, business leaders, nonprofits, school board administrators and others. That’s the real-world experience that we need in Congress and what I’ll bring to the table.”
Off the top of your head, what are three top issues you see affecting residents within the 14th district and how would you aim to fix them?
“Well, first, we have to get our economy back on track. Small businesses need workers, individuals need reliable jobs and paychecks. People feel inflation every day at the gas pumps and the grocery store, at Lowe’s or Home Depot — we need to reduce the tax burdens for individuals and businesses.
Second, in talking to people across the district, infrastructure and transportation are real problems in Georgia 14. That includes broadband, roads, sidewalks — it impacts individuals, businesses and schools. There are so many more areas that I could target — education, health care, national security.
But I think the third thing I would mention that impacts everybody is just out-of-control spending. [The] government is creating generational debt for our children, our grandchildren and beyond. Our debt is approaching $30 trillion — that’s $90,000 of debt for every single adult and child in America and this has to stop. We need a representative who will work with colleagues to stop spending, create solutions and deliver results.”
How do you feel about Georgia’s economic and medical response to the COVID-19 pandemic? Could anything be improved?
“We could have a whole interview on just this topic. Hindsight is always 20/20 and we can always look back at things to improve, but in general, I’m very proud that Georgia was one of the very first states to reopen. That helped our economy and families tremendously. We have to remember that health is not just acuity of sickness, but social aspects of health matter as well, such as job security, home environments, school and social environments, mental health.
Let me emphasize that COVID — although very serious — is not an excuse for big government. I’m against mandates, and we have experienced extensive federal overreach since COVID. We need smaller government — not more government. These are complex problems that we need to solve, which is why we need a representative who will focus on solving problems and not sewing problems.”
Republican lawmakers in the state are thinking of passing laws making it easier for Georgians to access guns. Do you think it should be easier for Georgians to access guns? Why or why not?
“I know there’s an effort to pass constitutional carry in the state and I support that. I support our Second Amendment right. Constitutional carry is not a party concept — it’s a constitutional concept, and multiple studies have shown that it’s tied to reduced violent crimes. It’s a great move for Georgia.”
The Supreme Court has recently decided that a Texas law banning abortion after 6 weeks and allowing private citizens to sue someone helping a pregnant person seeking an abortion can stay in place, but abortion providers can challenge the ruling in federal court. Many believe this ruling paves the way for more states — including Georgia with its attempted “heartbeat” bill — to enact laws restricting abortion and ultimately, the overturn of Roe v. Wade. Would you support a Texas-style anti-abortion law in Georgia?
“Absolutely. I am unapologetically pro-life and I would be proud for Georgia to pass the heartbeat bill. Being pro-life goes beyond the womb, we need to support women and families who are in tough situations, we need to support them to bring their child into a loving and a stable home. Even in those difficult situations, many abortions occur because of concern for practical problems that we can help solve — not having enough resources to feed, care and provide for the child and ensuring the child and the mother are in safe environments.”
What is your view on Black Lives Matter protests and police reform?
“Anytime violence and vandalism occur, it should be condemned. Period. I will always support our police and emergency responders. They save countless lives every day.”
There have been many stories in the news about worker shortages, but perhaps not as many stories about the reasons why millions of Americans quit their jobs in record numbers last fall, including many Georgians. Many who quit cited poor treatment and pay at their workplace. What would you do as a US Representative to improve working people’s economic conditions so that they return to work?
“We’re sitting in the midst of a perfect storm right now. Businesses are short-staffed, they’re being forced to deal with ridiculous regulations and trying to balance all the restrictions. Workers want to work but they’re exhausted, often because of being short-staffed. Everyday prices are skyrocketing due to inflation and supply chain shortages, and people are just hurting. My husband and I, we’re both small business owners, so we know the challenges created by governmental red tape. As representative, I’ll listen to what matters to constituents. We need to reduce regulations and allow businesses to focus on what matters — their customers and their employees. Employees need to be incentivized to work, not to stay home.”
What is your view on environmental issues? (For example, climate change)
“I’m not an expert on climate change, but my husband and I fell in love with Georgia because of its amazing diversity of regions. You’ve got mountains, beaches, cities, farms, lakes, I mean, everything in between. We need to protect the natural beauty of Georgia. We also need to be energy independent as a nation.”
What is your view on education?
“This is another area I’m very passionate about. In short, I’m a mom, my son’s in kindergarten, I support school choice. Parents need to be involved in their children’s education. Like most parents, I don’t want my child learning about things like critical race theory before his mind can comprehend what he’s learning. Our schools have become too politicized, too sexualized and just too focused on educational bureaucracy over the needs of our kids and that has to change.”
“So many people lack confidence in our system following the 2020 elections. Georgians deserve elections they can trust and SB 202 generally strengthens our elections by making it easier to vote and harder to cheat. I believe every legal person who can vote absolutely should vote. It’s the state’s responsibility to ensure every legal vote is accepted and counted. That’s why I support SB 202.”
Do you think the 2020 presidential election was a free and fair election?
“I believe there were instances of fraud that existed and have been documented but I have not seen enough evidence to suggest overturning the 2020 election.”
How would you characterize the people who overran the US Capitol last January 6th?
“Anytime we have violence and vandalism in any form, by anyone, it should be condemned. An underlying factor in all of this is the erosion of trust by Americans in our government. Our district needs a leader who’s focused on serving people, addressing real problems instead of running around the country like a celebrity. And Georgians deserve this over a celebrity.”
Would you have voted to certify the election of Joe Biden?
“So again, hindsight is always 20/20. I’m not sure it makes sense to focus on a hypothetical situation at this point, but let’s not lose sight of the real issues that we’re seeing today with our economy and national security. There’s no doubt that we would have better security — National Security, border security, personal, economic security — if Trump were still in office, and that’s what I’ll fight to bring back.”
The 14th Congressional District has recently been changed so that Austell and Powder Springs — two majority Black and Democrat-leaning suburban cities in Cobb County have been added to the mostly white, rural, conservative areas of the 14th. How do you economically and socially appeal to rural, conservative voters while also appealing to suburban, liberal voters?
“The issues we face are not Republican issues or Democrat issues, they’re American issues. I am conservative, but I believe in supporting policies that bring value to every Georgian, not just one party. In the real world, we have to work with people who have different backgrounds, experiences and beliefs and that’s the beauty of America, we have that privilege. That doesn’t mean you’re compromising your values or beliefs, though.”
How do you feel about transportation issues in the district?
“In talking to people across the district, I’ve heard that transportation and infrastructure are real problems. Reliable, affordable transportation is crucial for individuals to be able to get to work, get to school, medical appointments, grocery stores. We have many individuals who are commuting to and from Atlanta for work, for example, especially from Cobb. We need to find solutions that work for people without raising taxes.”
What is your view on healthcare issues in Georgia?
“Where do I begin? I spent my career dedicated to improving the impact, performance and effectiveness of the US healthcare system. Healthcare is a foundational service within our country that drives nearly a fifth of our economic spending. It employs more individuals than any other industry in the US and it’s largely unsustainable at the current rate of growth. That means people who have paid into Medicare their whole careers may not receive those benefits if we don’t start controlling government spending. We have to protect those benefits.
Our system is fragmented, it’s expensive, it’s imbalanced across regions and income levels compared to other developed nations. However, we also have better access to care, with shorter waiting times, higher quality and more specialized care that leaves other countries wanting. Americans deserve access to transparent, affordable and high-quality health care where medical visits and prescriptions don’t break the bank. We need to strengthen our private market, enabling patients as consumers, optimize efficiency and effectiveness within both private and government programs, expand access to care, maintain high-quality standards of care — again, I could talk all day. But I go back to the fact that these are issues where we need a knowledgeable representative who wants to do the work. I want to work for Georgians. I’m here to serve, not be a celebrity.”
Can you talk a little about your donors and how much your campaign has raised so far?
“We’re very pleased with where we’re at and the time we spent building relationships is clearly paying off.”
How are you reaching out to voters to get your message heard?
“Well, first and foremost, constantly out and about within the district, meeting as many people as I can and then radio shows or engaging people on social media, really emphasizing local events across the district. [We’re] constantly putting out announcements for upcoming meet and greets and of course, people can always check out our website, follow us on social media and reach out. I love connecting with people.”
What makes you the best person to represent the 14th district?
“Serving is a privilege — and I’ve spent my career serving others and it’s the most rewarding experience. I want to serve Georgia 14. I’m not a politician — I’m a business owner, I’m a mom, a wife, a Christian. I will bring my values, my knowledge, my curiosity and just professionalism to the job. I see this as an opportunity to serve God, serve my neighbor and serve my country.”
Is there anything else important not mentioned here that you would like to make sure voters know about you and/or your campaign?
“I would just say be sure to get out and vote in the Republican primary on May 24. We have too many serious issues going on in our country and we need a serious representative who will get results. If you’d like to arrange a meet and greet in your area, please reach out. I want to meet as many people as I possibly can across the district.”
To learn more about Strahan and her campaign, you can visit her website.
Arielle Robinson is a student at Kennesaw State University. She is the current president of the university’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and former editor at the KSU Sentinel. She enjoys music, reading poetry and non-fiction books and collecting books and records. She enjoys all kinds of music and reading poetry and non-fiction books.