By Arielle Robinson
Wendy Davis, a Democratic hopeful who is running to unseat Marjorie Taylor Greene in Georgia’s 14th Congressional District, answered questions about her and her campaign for the Courier last week.
Davis served two terms as Ward 2 commissioner on Rome’s city commission. She was first elected to her position in 2013 and was re-elected in 2017. She ended her second term on December 31 last year to run for Congress.
Davis is one of several candidates who is challenging Greene, a far-right freshman.
So far, we have spoken with Democratic candidate Marcus Flowers and Republican candidate Jennifer Strahan.
The primary will be May 24 while the general election is November 8.
Talk about your background. Who are you and why did you decide to become involved in politics?
Davis: “I went to Berry College for my undergraduate degree, and so I lived in Rome then. My dad’s family is from Rome, we actually go back five generations in northwest Georgia. I am a product of Georgia public schools before I went to college at a private school. I returned to Rome in 1999 to work at Berry, I was alumni director for a couple of years. Most of my career has been spent connecting people to an opportunity to be more involved in government, either through voting or from taking other political actions. I’ve also had the opportunity to work at different levels of government and to be very heavily involved in the community. I’m very proud of the fact that I was a part of the team that was able to bring professional baseball to Rome, I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to come up and see our Rome Braves but we brought the team, our first games were in 2003. We’ve had more than 20 years of great baseball — two league championships and hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars of economic impact for the stadium.
I have had the luxury, or the honor really, for the past eight years of serving as a Rome city commissioner — that is like city council up here in Rome. I am very proud of the work I’ve done. I ran for city commission because I felt like the folks here in Rome were not connected with what was going on with their local government. So my main mission as a city commissioner was to reconnect people with their government. I was able to bring out opportunities to livestream our meetings and I helped have the city buy a smartphone application where people if they saw a pothole could take a picture of it and send it in. We’ve been able to work on big issues.
As you may know, this community politically is not a very Democratic community. There’s a lot of Republicans here, the county is overwhelmingly Republican, but the city and the county, it’s not really like we do partisan work. We’re just all getting the job done for the community and I’m really proud of the work I have done as a city commissioner. We have made big changes in terms of housing, I led for a year and a half a special Committee on Housing and we’ve been able to change some of our zoning rules to spur housing development. I’ve worked to make it easier for small businesses to thrive.
But again, the thing I’m most proud of is being a responsive and accessible city commissioner. I feel like people deserve to have their voices heard and they deserve for government to work for them. I hope to take that same energy to Congress, of being someone who is connected to the community, connects the community to their government and make sure the government is working efficiently and effectively to bring needed opportunities to the community.”
How do you think your background has prepared you to become a member of Congress?
“I’m a student of government, I know how government should work. I know that our government is broken. However, I don’t believe that it’s irretrievably broken, I believe we can fix it. I believe that if you are a collaborative leader who brings people with different points of view together you will come up with better solutions to the problems that our community faces. That’s very much the hallmark of what I did as a city commissioner — and again, I’m very proud of that reputation.
When you’re in a small office like a city commission and in a smaller community you don’t have the luxury of being partisan or holding out to get your way — you’ve got to make things happen, you’ve got to get things done. And it’s really important to have good constituent services, you can’t be distant or be not around. You’re running into people when you’re pumping gas or having supper or at the grocery store. It’s very important to me to be the kind of leader and I feel like I’ve been the kind of leader who’s a good listener, is bringing more voices to the table. I can work with people I disagree with, I have worked well with people I disagree with and we still get things done. You have to be both accountable and responsive and unfortunately, I don’t see our current representative and frankly, the members of Congress before her — being very responsive and taking care of getting things done for their constituents.
My uncle John Davis was the Congressman up here from ‘60 to ‘74, so I guess you could say my family has a history of service that’s very strong there. My Uncle Johnny and my dad, their father was a state legislator and his father was a county ordinary, so there’s, there’s a lot of connection and history of service. It’s I think in a lot of ways what I was made to do. I have learned, I’ve worked all over the country and I’ve seen different ways that people connect and collaborate and I hope I have learned very good lessons about what a member of Congress should be. To me, it’s someone who’s a servant of the people who’s being engaged and helping the community grow and thrive.
Unfortunately, you can see that our current member of Congress, she’s not getting things done for the district, it seems like she’s just enjoying picking fights to make headlines and taking on issues and creating divisions and sort of putting gasoline on the fire of the things that divide us in terms of the health of our democracy and the health of our neighbors here in this pandemic.”
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, the economy, the economy, the economy. I will give you two others but the economy is vitally important. And it’s really a set of contradictions, the stock market is up, corporate profits are skyrocketing, unemployment nationally is at an all-time low. But the people I meet every day — whether it’s here in Rome or traveling up to Dalton or down in Cobb County — people are struggling and people are concerned and worried and they feel a lot of economic stress. The problems we have with inflation are touching every family, touching all the working families and we have got to find solutions.
We talk about broadband and people used to think of high-speed internet as being a luxury, well if the pandemic has taught us nothing, it’s that you’ve got to have reliable internet for your job, for your education, to access the economy, really. If you think about it if you’re somebody looking for a job right now, for almost every job you have to apply online to get the job or you have to look online to find the job. Having access to the internet is not a luxury, it should be a utility that we have just like we connected everybody so they could have lights at their house. We’ve got to connect everybody and make sure they have this broadband access. The good news is that Congress has already appropriated millions of dollars to have that connectivity. I see my role when I’m elected to Congress as making sure that those lines are out there, every street can have access to that high-speed internet but also make sure that every family and every small business can afford to have that connection. It’s what we have to have these days. We’ve got to get this inflation under control and we’ve got to bring high-wage jobs with good benefits here to the district and not let these families be left behind.
Another issue that’s very important to me is how we treat our veterans. My daddy was a World War II vet and he got his healthcare from the VA, all of my life and so I’ve seen the VA go from really, it was horrible and dreadful when I was a little girl to getting incrementally a little bit better. But it is still not giving our veterans the healthcare they deserve and it is not giving our veterans the benefits they have earned. I had a telephone town hall event focused on veterans’ issue and one of the veterans was talking about how she had been on this new fancy phone system they put in and she was on hold for an hour waiting to make an appointment for a virtual appointment — speaking of which, you can’t have a virtual medical appointment if you don’t have the high-speed internet. But she waited on the phone an hour to make this appointment and then got disconnected and that’s not the way anyone should be treated. I don’t accept that the VA is broken and can’t be fixed. I know it’s broken, but it can be fixed. We need a member of Congress who’s going to go up there and be determined to make that happen so when our veterans file for benefits that they deserve and they have earned by offering to sacrifice their very lives for our freedom, they shouldn’t be denied and then have to fight and fight and fight. My mom and I had to fight and fight to try to get my dad the benefits he deserved and to get my uncle the benefits he deserved. Unfortunately, almost every veteran you talk to has a story of obstacles to them getting these benefits. And again, you don’t see our current member of Congress doing anything to help our veterans or to cut the red tape that they’re facing.
The third thing I would say has to do with caregiving. We talk a lot about the childcare problems we’ve had in the pandemic, smaller childcare facilities going out of business, the ones that have managed to stay open not having enough workers. They lost their clients in a lot of ways because people were scared to send their children to these group settings when we’re in the height of the pandemic. We also have had situations where we were in school and then suddenly we’re out of school. You saw it happen this weekend where a lot of school systems on Thursday or Friday decided that they were going to be virtual when they went back the beginning of this week because so many of their staff members are out with COVID. This is a crunch to families and overwhelmingly it’s a crunch to women, who are the caregivers — and that’s just thinking about children. Think about the sandwich generation of people who are helping their parents navigate growing old right and at the same time raising children. I think some people refer to them as the sandwich generation. I guess I got lucky as my parents aged and I had to manage all those caregiving elements — balancing getting my parents to medical appointments with my work, juggling that responsibility with my brother and sister in law, managing their medicines, helping figure out what we’re going to do as they decline — at least I wasn’t also raising children. At the same time, I can’t imagine the pressures our families are feeling. I’ve heard studies that have said that it’ll be 20 years before we have women back in the workforce at the level that was at in February of 2020 before this pandemic started.”
How do you feel about Georgia’s economic and medical response to the COVID-19 pandemic?
“Well, what’s the nice way to put this? I think the state of Georgia mishandled a lot of things. Particularly Governor Kemp, I don’t think he gave COVID-19 the seriousness it deserved at first, I did not like that the governor decided that cities and counties couldn’t make their own decisions about how they handled when businesses were shutting down or opening back up, or how they were handling mask requirements in local communities. I think there was a lot that we did that escalated the pandemic when we could have protected ourselves more when it first got started.
Then you have this whole layer of now a host of people with misinformation, including our Congresswoman — and I wouldn’t even call it misinformation, she’s flat out telling lies about vaccines and these vaccines are saving lives. She got kicked off Twitter from the lies, she can’t even follow the rules in Congress to wear a mask to protect other people who may have health conditions. She has gotten fined so much I can’t even keep track of it. I think the last figure I saw was something like sixty or $70,000 of fines she has already accumulated — and that’s more than most people in my community make. She’s just given up that money for fines to make some strange political points. And she had her staff organize a protest of our largest hospital here in Rome when we’re at the peak of the Delta variant and it’s dangerous, and it’s wrong. We have all these healthcare workers working enormous shifts and are exhausted and under really difficult circumstances trying to save people’s lives. I can’t imagine what it was like looking outside and seeing people protesting the work you’re doing.
A contrast to that is the work I have tried to do just as a city commissioner, trying to elevate and make sure people had good information from public health officials, from people they could trust. I have worked as a volunteer to help with vaccination clinics to make sure we’re reaching underserved communities. I had one of my campaign telephone town hall events, [where] instead of talking about myself and sort of what I was going to do as a candidate, I had medical professionals on the call and we taught thousands of people the real scientific information about vaccinations, trying to give people the understanding and make them comfortable getting vaccinated. If we could get up to 80 percent vaccination we could be through with this pandemic and so I was trying to reach more people that way.
Another thing that could have been handled better, if you want to talk about something that the federal government was responsible for, they came up with a really appropriate and good program where they were offering rental assistance for people who were out of work because of the pandemic. They were smart and they did it where the money went to the landlord so you didn’t have to worry about somebody saying they were using it for rent, it would go to the landlord. The problem is they created a system that was so complicated and convoluted that landlord after landlord and person after person hasn’t been able to access the money that’s supposed to be there to help them. That’s an important part of our economy, we don’t want people getting evicted from their homes. We also want landlords to be able to make money. It was something that was overly complicated and it’s the kind of thing where as a member of Congress, I would step in and go, ‘whoa, this is too hard. Let’s find a way to make it easier and get the money where it needs to go.’”
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?
“First of all, I support the Second Amendment and there are clearly many parts to address with a culture and a family situation where guns are a part of their family culture. Dad teaches the kids to hunt and it’s a big part of how they bond as a family. There are other communities where they feel like they have to have firearms in their homes to keep their families and their property safe. There are a lot of places that are a long way away from a police call and I understand that and it makes sense that there are many, many people who want to have guns here across Georgia.
I also don’t think it’s particularly hard to get a gun. I’m not quite sure the premise of your question that they’re going to make it easier to buy guns, I think that we want to make sure that folks who are following the rules are able to have the guns that they want to have for the purposes they want to have them. I’ve seen surveys of people who are gun owners, they don’t want guns to be in the hands of those who shouldn’t have them, like people who are a danger to themselves or others or people with a history of domestic abuse. I think that there’s broad agreement on things like background checks and I feel like in Georgia regular law-abiding citizens have very easy access to guns. I think for many people the biggest obstacle is whether they can afford them or not.”
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?
“No, I don’t think state legislators should be in the business of making personal healthcare decisions for their constituents. That Texas law shows us in a lot of ways why we shouldn’t have a patchwork of state laws that leaves certain Americans with different rights depending on where they live. When a woman in one state can have bodily autonomy and women in another state do not, we are inherently unequal and failing to live up to the Constitution’s promise of equal protection under the law so that equally, Americans have access to freedom and get the care they need and deserve. It’s clear to me that we should pass a federal law that provides the protections of Roe across all 50 states.
Part of what I wanted to add is a personal story. When my mother was a student nurse and back when abortions were illegal, she saw a young woman come into the emergency room and die from having one of those back-alley abortions. She told me that it was the worst thing she had ever seen in her life. What she told me 40 years ago — and I think it’s still true today — is that wealthy women will always be able to get abortions, no matter what the law is.
I stand with the majority of Americans in supporting reproductive freedom. I think we should be spending our time and energy on healthcare issues where we have broad agreement. We should be urgently working on reducing the maternal mortality rate, preventing teen pregnancies and providing science-based education about reproductive health — all of which will reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies. We can and must make progress on these issues.”
What is your view on Black Lives Matter protests and police reform?
“I think that first and foremost we have taken these issues about the actions of police officers and criminal justice reform and we have exacerbated the areas where we disagree. I think that there is very broad agreement that we don’t want police officers killing people in the street, like what happened with George Floyd. I think there’s very broad agreement that we need to find ways to address people who are having a mental health break, or people with addiction problems, that those issues shouldn’t get to the point where they need police intervention. Police officers are not addiction counselors or social workers, we need to find ways to address those problems that have become police problems that shouldn’t necessarily become police problems.
I think that we need solutions that keep our community safe and restore the faith in our police and our justice system. And again, like with almost every other issue, we don’t get to solutions by just yelling at each other. The way we get to solutions are we speak to the people who were at the center of dealing with these crises and we hear their standpoint and we bring in other voices to make sure that we are thinking very broadly and thinking proactively about solving problems instead of just being reactive. I think there are a lot of sensible solutions that are out there if we would take the time. And the police know that’s not how they want the police to be seen either.”
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?
“I think that we haven’t yet looked at and properly evaluated all the different layers that are going into these statistics that show people quitting jobs and changing jobs and leaving the workforce. I’ve been trying to do a lot of reading on it and what we talked about earlier is that there are a lot of childcare issues. In terms of availability, in terms of safety — and it’s not always women, but it’s primarily women who are the main caregivers of school-aged children — this question of when schools open and shut, there’s only so many times you can call out of work unexpectedly and be able to keep your job, no matter how generous your boss might be.
Also, let’s say you’re in a service industry job like you’re a server in a restaurant. If you have to be out of work three days this week because your child is not in school because they close down the school, that’s a better part of your paycheck, two-thirds of your paycheck or half of your paycheck that you don’t get, and we have so many jobs that don’t have the luxury of having benefits, like paid time off. So a lot of people have found that it actually just ends up being cheaper for them to stay home. A lot of people are taking this opportunity to reevaluate being in a job where they work extended hours for low pay and they’re deciding to become entrepreneurs, which is exciting. There are a lot of people who were nearing what they normally thought would be when they retire, and they’re just going ahead and retiring because they’re like, look, I wasn’t happy anyway so I’m just going to take this opportunity to go ahead and retire.
People aren’t necessarily quitting their jobs, there’s a lot of people who are changing their jobs. We all think about it as being a wage problem and obviously, the minimum wage is far too low and a lot of people have been saying that we need to make the federal minimum wage higher and we certainly do. I would love to talk another time about how tipped wage salaries are $2.13 an hour, I think that’s a horrible thing and I certainly see why people aren’t running back to those jobs.
We haven’t talked about how people being sick from COVID is why many of them have left their jobs. I forget the exact number we’re on but all the people who have died from COVID, they’re not at their jobs anymore. And when your family member is sick, a lot of people have lost their jobs trying to take care of a sick family member, so we have a very big realignment going on right now. And it’s not just wages, it’s like people are stopping and evaluating, ‘is this job giving me what I expected it to give me.’ I think the silver lining of the pandemic is people have been able to sort of recalibrate what was important. I think too many of us were more focused on our job and the paycheck than on having a life worth living and so I think a lot of people have found that there are other things they want to do with their life.
But our economy needs these workers, and we’ve got to figure out how to get people back in the workforce in ways and a lot of that has to do with job training. There are job training resources out there but people don’t necessarily know where to go to get them. That’s where I think having a member of Congress who is very present and very involved and is saying, okay, here are federal resources for job training over here and here are people who need to be trained and here are people who need trained workers — I’m going to be the kind of member of Congress that’s bringing those people together.
But I think there’s a lesson to a lot of businesses that you’ve got to treat your people right, which includes good wages and good benefits. More than that, it’s about respect. And again, that’s what I think your member of Congress should give to their constituents — respect and understanding. That’s what you get with me.”
What is your view on environmental issues?
“Scientist after scientist and study after study has told us that we have got to act now. As a matter of fact, we’re behind in acting to make sure that we are stopping the ways that we as humans are negatively impacting our environment. There is a lot on the federal level that we can do in that regard. I think one of the exciting things that we have opportunity-wise is working on this new technology for solar energy and electric vehicles. That’s something that is really growing here in Georgia. We’ve got a company in Dalton that is thriving, manufacturing solar panels. Over in East Georgia, there’s an electric vehicle battery company, SK Innovation, that has invested over one and a half billion dollars in putting a manufacturing plant there. It was just announced a few months ago that in east Atlanta, the largest manufacturer of electric trucks is going to be coming to Georgia, a $5 billion dollar investment and 10,000 workers. Those advancements are going to help our workers, are going to help our environment and the kind of thing we ought to be encouraging.
At the same time, as these good things are happening here in Georgia, we have a member of Congress who is saying that those kinds of innovations are bad for America. That’s just wrong. You have politicians who are saying that the EPA should be dissolved, but we have a situation here, frankly, in northwest Georgia where the EPA needs to get very much involved because like here in Rome, there’s a situation where our water is going to require new treatment because of the manufacturing companies north of us who are not cleaning their water well enough from their manufacturing before they put it in the river. If we weren’t cleaning it, we have to come up with new ways to clean it which is going to cost close to $200 million for this new equipment to make sure that those pollutants are taken out of the water before it goes into drinking water. The EPA is vital to making sure those businesses are being held into account. Same thing with coal ash, you have down in Cobb County, there was a company that was I think that was sterilizing medical equipment and they were allowing toxins to go up in the air. There’s an important role to protect our environment that the federal government has and there’s things that each of us as individuals need to do to help reduce our footprint. There’s a lot of work to be done and we can’t dilly dally about it anymore. We need to stop fighting each other about it and make some progress.”
What is your view on education?
“I think I mentioned before that I’m proudly a product of Georgia public schools. As a city commissioner, we didn’t have responsibility over the local schools but I worked really hard with the local school system to support the work that we’re doing. I think all of us can agree that we want our young people well prepared to compete in this global economy and to also be engaged, community members. I think part of that means we have to open more pathways to higher education. But a four-year college degree is not the right path for every student. I’m a big fan, there’s a growing trend in vocational-technical education that is really innovative in the way that it pairs academic studies with hands-on learning and real-world work experiences. I think we need to open our minds to different ways that we can prepare our young people for successful lives. We have a wonderful facility here in Rome called the South Rome Early Learning Center, they have this amazing program for three-year-olds and it’s showing that if you give very young children the preparation to be good learners, it makes all kinds of benefits.
I think we would be wise to invest so much more in early childhood education. I don’t know if you know this, but the private prison industry, they look at third-grade reading scores and where third-grade reading scores are low they know that’s where they’re going to be able to make money building private prisons. In my mind, if they know that that’s where bad things are going to happen, we have time to reach in and stop bad things from happening by making the right investments in our schools. And of course, the best way to improve our schools is to listen to educators. We’ve got to give our teachers the respect, support and resources they need to provide a safe and fulfilling learning environment for our children.
We’ve got to take the time and energy to make sure that our parents are prepared to support their children’s learning path. There are a lot of people who are in a place like the pandemic showed us, where they weren’t able to help their children. They didn’t know enough about the technology, or they didn’t know enough about the subjects to be helpful to their children. The thing that really hurts my heart a lot is to see that people are creating these rifts between parents and our schools and they’re trying to politicize every decision the school is making. Our school should be a place for families to safely gather, to cheer on their children’s successes and help them overcome obstacles they face.”
What are your views on SB 202, the voting law which critics on the left say will restrict voting rights for historically marginalized communities?
“I was very troubled by many of the SB 202 changes to Georgia’s election law. I happen to think that we should be eliminating obstacles to American voting, not creating new ones. I’m kind of known to have a little phrase when it [comes to talking] about elections, that I’m a Democrat with a little D first. I am somebody who wants as many people as possible, my neighbors participating in the election. It’s not about who they’re voting for, I want them to feel like a part of the process. That’s what’s going to keep our democracy strong.
I think SB 202 went in the wrong direction. You saw how popular those drop boxes were and now they’ve virtually eliminated the drop boxes. They’ve certainly eliminated the effectiveness of the drop boxes by only making them available in sort of regular business hours and not available on a curbside, you have to get out of your car and go inside. They’re not going to be available on the weekend before the election, which is the time that most people were hurrying up to get their ballots turned back in. In addition, they have changed the rules about absentee voting in terms of the length of time that the ballots are available.
And particularly critical is there are a lot of people who don’t know that they’re going to be missing the election until very close to the election. Now they have the cutoff for sending ballots a week earlier than it used to be. I don’t think that making it harder for people to vote is what we ought to be doing. I am all for the measures that are before Congress right now. It was an honor for me to have the opportunity to meet John Lewis, he’s obviously a hero not just for Georgians, but for all of America. The work he and so many people did to knock down barriers, they had to risk their lives and they were beaten and jailed for wanting to be full participants in our democracy and it feels like we have forgotten those lessons. I again, I just feel like we should be doing things to make voting easier and more accessible to people and it feels like we’re going in the wrong direction, particularly here in Georgia.”
Do you think the 2020 presidential election was a free and fair election?
“Yes! I mean, just look at the records. In Georgia, we counted the votes for president three times in our community, we actually counted them four times. There have been audits, there have been investigations, there have been lawsuits that court after court after court all around the country — all of these things have said the same thing. Our Republican Secretary of State said that the voting in Georgia was valid.
We’re 14 months past the election, I can’t understand why people are still trying to say that the results of that election didn’t stand. We have all been on a side of an election where the person we were supporting didn’t win. This is the first time I’ve seen where people just stood there and said, ‘no, that can’t be right,’ what you’re seeing right in front of your eyes. We literally counted by hand every ballot in Georgia and people are still saying that that wasn’t right when we’ve all seen clearly in front of us that those were the results. They may not have been the results that some people wanted, but you know, work harder next time.”
How would you characterize the people who overran the US Capitol last January 6th?
“Well, I think that’s a great segue from the previous question. There were people who frankly told lies about the election results. They were stirred up and incited, and they tried to overturn the election by violently attacking our Capitol. They were beating police officers. It still just amazes me, they hung a gallows and a noose and they were going to hang the vice president — Trump’s Vice President — they were going to kill him because he wouldn’t do something that was outside of what not just the law said but the history and culture of our nation having a peaceful transfer of power. Those folks are not patriots. They are people that were aided and abetted and stirred up by people like Marjorie Taylor Greene and it has made our nation less safe and it’s against the ideals of America.”
Would you have voted to certify the election of Joe Biden?
“Indeed, I would have because he rightfully won the election with 306 electoral votes and he also had more than 51 percent of the popular vote — 81.2 million Americans voted for Joe Biden. That was more than the number of people who voted for Donald Trump, and he had more electoral votes. Yes, I would have certified that election.”
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?
“I don’t feel like there’s sides — we’re all Georgians. Yes, there are differences within our communities but there is broad agreement that we all want our communities to thrive. We want our young people to be prepared for what is going to be a challenging future that offers obstacles, we don’t even know what they are yet. We want small businesses to be healthy small businesses, they are the workhorses of our economy.
And yes, the portion of Cobb County that’s been added, they have transportation issues and traffic problems that are very different than what we have in the more rural parts of the community. They have access to the internet, that’s better than the more rural parts of the community. But a member of Congress is always going to have, if you think about that, you’re representing something like 765,000 people, there’s always going to be a diversity of political views, there’s going to be a diversity of people’s economic standings, what people want for a member of Congress is somebody who’s going to listen to them and respect them. I think they want somebody who’s going to find solutions to the obstacles that face them and work to bring people together to make all of our communities thrive.
I’m going to be the kind of member of Congress that makes sure that the tax dollars that are sent to Washington come back to our community and make sure that people’s voices are heard. I don’t think that’s a liberal or conservative thing, I think that’s just what people expect as Americans of their government to work for them and to be responsive.”
How do you feel about transportation issues in the district?
“I first of all think we need to think more broadly about transit and transportation. For so long in Georgia this meant more highways and more roads. First of all, the roads and highways and bridges that we have need to be improved. I haven’t gotten the exact number of dangerous bridges we have but the good news, again, is that the resources have been allocated from Washington. They passed a bill to have millions of dollars in transportation funding coming to the state. When I’m your member of Congress, I’m going to make sure those dollars come to southwest Cobb County and come to the 10 other counties in this district in ways that serve those constituents.
I think regional transit is needed throughout these rural areas. That is going to look very different from what you see with MARTA. I happen to have grown up in Fulton County and it always puzzled me why Cobb County wasn’t a part of MARTA. I haven’t had a chance yet to have deep conversations with people in Powder Springs and Austell but I imagine they would love the access to what they get if MARTA was expanded or the bus service was expanded and more convenient. Coming up with transit solutions that serve more people is really important for us to do and to have safe transit. That’s something I’m very proud we have worked on here in Rome. We sort of broke it down and are building it back up — a new idea of what transit needs for our community. I think that’s what we need to take the opportunity to do now that we have these new resources. The resources, these tax dollars for job training, these tax dollars for infrastructure, for improving the roads and bridges in the past year, Marjorie Taylor Greene has voted against all of these opportunities for resources to come back to the district.”
What is your view on healthcare issues in Georgia and what would you do to improve them?
“Oh, that’s a big topic. We already talked a little bit about healthcare for veterans, one of the things I didn’t mention is that there’s sort of an innovation in allowing veterans to see doctors outside of the VA system and for that to be covered. I think that’s a good innovation but it has come with its own layer of complications in terms of getting the approvals and getting those doctors paid, and it’s become its own mess. We need to sort out that mess.
It is baffling to me why Georgia has continued — and it’s because of the Republican leadership — has continued to refuse to expand Medicaid. We have so many working families who don’t get healthcare benefits at the jobs they work at and aren’t poor enough to get Medicaid and we need to fill that gap. Our communities would be stronger, our businesses would be thriving more the healthier people are. This pandemic exaggerated those divisions and those complications.
There are communities in this district where they have a hard time accessing medical specialists and all over in southwest Cobb all the way up to Lookout Mountain, there are people who can’t afford to get the health insurance coverage they need to make seeing a doctor really affordable and viable for them. I think Medicaid expansion is first and foremost a way to solve that. It’s been happening in other states and getting more people covered. And again, the more people have insurance and access to doctors for primary care, the healthier we all will be. It baffles me that everybody doesn’t see the value of having healthier neighbors. But that’s something that I will certainly work for.”
Can you talk a little about your endorsers/donors and how much your campaign has raised so far?
“Sure, I’m happy to talk about the support we’ve received. I feel very strongly that people who know the state and know the district and know the field are supporting me as the strongest Democratic candidate for this seat. I also feel like there are a lot of people who would traditionally vote to reelect the Republican incumbent in a Congressional seat who are not happy with the service they’ve gotten from Marjorie Taylor Greene and they’re looking elsewhere. I think I’m the kind of candidate that can appeal to them. I think you will see this become a national-level race.
I think that I am the Democratic candidate who so far has the strongest support from within Georgia. Seventy percent of all of our contributions have come from Georgians, I have strong support within the district. I have worked for 30 years building relationships across the state. I am honored that so far 24 state legislators have endorsed me, including Dave Wilkerson, whose House district is now in the new 14th District and Kim Alexander who is over in Paulding County in the district. I have scores of former elected officials and city and county officials who are supporting my campaign because they know the work I’ve done. They know my reputation of being a woman to get big things done, of asking tough questions and expecting strong answers.”
How are you reaching out to voters to get your message heard?
“Well, first and foremost, again, if we all have the access to the internet we need, you can go to wendyforus.com, that’s my website. I’m also on many of the social media platforms, got a lot of good connections on Facebook, it’s Wendy Davis For Us on Facebook and my handle on Twitter is @wendyforus.
We are trying to use every tool in our toolbox. I have a lot of experience in the campaign world and we are putting together a very sophisticated campaign that has all the modern tools, but also we are never going to forget that the best way to reach voters is having neighbors talk to neighbors. That’s the way to really break through all the noise that politics feels like it is these days. One of the tools I mentioned earlier that I am finding to be very effective is I am using telephone town hall events. I’ve done a series of them. I mentioned the one where we were talking about helping people with their questions about the safety and effectiveness of vaccinations, and then one about keeping families safe and issues of domestic violence, trying to connect people to resources. I did an event that focused on veterans and it taught me so much about where things are broken and where we need to be solving problems.
I have a very strong record, I ran for city commission because I wanted to reconnect people to their local government. In the same way, that’s what I want to do as a candidate. That’s what I will continue to do when I’m their member of Congress, you’re going to be able to know where to reach me, and I’m somebody who’s going to listen and be respectful. I don’t care if you voted for me or didn’t vote for me, if you need help getting a passport expedited that’s what our office will do for you. The constituent services are where my focus will be and I think that’s the kind of message people want, they don’t want us yelling at each other and calling each other names. Mine will be a campaign that people can be proud to be a part of. My service will continue to be something that I think people will hold up and admire as someone who is trying to bring people together, be a collaborative leader who’s making big things happen by seeking innovation, and seeking new ideas to make people’s lives better.”
What makes you the best person to represent the 14th district?
“I have a strong connection to the district, I understand the culture and the people, I understand our challenges and obstacles, I also understand the opportunities that are out there. I have seen through my work on the city commission what we can do when we work together, how we can help our community thrive, even in difficult times. If you look at the field right now, only two of the Democratic candidates actually live in the new district. I’ve been in northwest Georgia in Rome for more than 20 years and then before that, I went to school there so I have a really strong connection to the district.
I understand government and I understand how it’s supposed to work for people. I don’t think that government is the answer to every problem, but I think that we should make government work effectively and in a very responsive way to the citizens. I know how to make that happen. I have a history and a record and an authenticity about being able to get big things done and that’s what I intend to do. We’re at a place of a lot of turmoil and a lot of danger and there are people who are sowing fear and hatred that is bad for our democracy and frankly, with the COVID we’ve seen, it’s bad for our health. I’m going to be the opposite of that. I am not going to be exacerbating our differences. I’m going to find common ground and I’m going to be working to bring people together, so all of our communities can be moving forward.”
Is there anything else important not mentioned here that you would like to make sure voters know about you and/or your campaign?
“Sure, I think it’s important for people to think broadly about what they want and have a vision for moving our communities forward. I think there are some people who have been told that we need to go back, and maybe people think, oh, life was better in the 1950s, some people romanticize maybe the 1850s. I think we should be thinking about 2050 and beyond, and how our communities are prepared to respond to those challenges that we haven’t even envisioned yet and understand that, yes, there are going to be areas we disagree on. Even in your family, everybody doesn’t agree but it’s imperative that we find ways to work together.
What was the famous Abraham Lincoln quote? ‘A house divided against itself cannot stand.’ We have to get back to what makes America strong. We all remember September 11 and the pain of that. I like to think about September 12, when you saw people lining up down the street to give blood, when you saw people coming together to clean up the site, when you saw people stopping and saying we need to embrace each other and be stronger together as Americans. We’re at another inflection point, and this is a chance in this election to say what you want. Do you want this divisiveness and meanness and the hatred? Or do you say, no, we can disagree without being disagreeable and we can find common ground and we can work together? That we know that finding ways to work together is what’s going to make individual families thrive and make our communities safer and stronger?”
As stated above, to find out more information about Davis and her campaign, you can visit her website linked here.
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.