EXCLUSIVE: State Rep. Thomas Says May Challenge US Rep. Lewis

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(APN) ATLANTA — “Some of you all have heard I’m running for US Congress,” State Rep. “Able” Mable Thomas, 50, told a crowd of about 60 people at the Butler Street YMCA’s historic “Hungry Club” forum, earlier today, during a standing ovation. “I’ve heard that too. If there’s a demand surely I can step up to the table. I want to talk to you all after to see if there’s a demand.”

publichousing13Thomas also announced she will not return to the Legislature so she can focus on serving Georgia at the federal level, either in Congress or some other way.

“No matter what decision is made in terms of the Fifth District, I’m not going back to the Georgia Assembly because work has to be done at the federal level,” Thomas said.

State Rep. Thomas told Atlanta Progressive News several weeks ago she was considering a challenge to US Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), but asked APN to wait until she made an announcement.

Ms. Thomas has served in the Georgia State Legislature from 1985 to 1993; served in Atlanta City Council in Post 1 citywide seat; and now is serving in the Legislature again. She previously challenged US Rep. Lewis.

Thomas, who lives in a poor, Black community called Vine City, has been a strong advocate for the poor, homeless, and working classes. In recent years, she has opposed Atlanta’s homeless panhandling ordinance, held a Legislative hearing on public housing, requested an Attorney General ruling on the legality of public housing demolitions, held a hearing on the difficulty of obtaining photo ID in Georgia, opposed the privatization of Grady Hospital, fought against police brutality, and much more.

“Sometimes when you spend time in the community base… in your neighborhoods… people might think you’re not as good as someone who wears a suit everyday. But when you run into me in the store, you tell me what I need to do,” Thomas said, reminding the audience Presidential candidate, US Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) had a background in community organizing in Illinios.

“My District is from Bankhead to Buckhead. It’s very diverse,” Thomas said.

“I’m a communicator. I’m an organizer. I’m a lover of the people,” Thomas said.

“We’re at a critical time in our country and in the world. It’s a time of change because of opportunity. It’s time to see what’s possible,” Thomas said.

“A lot of you wonder, when is your turn? Today is the day you decide to move up,” Thomas said.

“In politics, they will tell you, why don’t you just go along to get along? I got into politics to make a difference, to help somebody,” Thomas said.

“I’ve championed the rights of women, children, and families. I’ve passed legislation requiring insurance companies to pay for prostate cancer exams and pap smears,” Thomas said.

“In the 80’s, I passed a bill which moved the homestead exemption tax from $5,000 to $15,000,” Thomas said.

Thomas said she put together this year, with her colleagues, in a Republican-dominated Legislature, “a package of local legislation that would give tax relief to homeowners becase we must keep Atlantans in their homes,” which passed, Thomas said.

This package included legislation which moved the homestead tax exemption up again from $15,000, this time to $30,000, at the City, County, and State level.

“Also, if you’re 65 and over, and make less than 200% of the poverty line, you get a 50% reduction in taxes,” Thomas said.

“You got to do something about what’s happening in subprime. Bear Stearns was bailed out. They weren’t the only ones that were bailed out. They made sure the industry was bailed out, but the payers of the bills,” were left out, Thomas said.

“They knew you were going to default,” Thomas said.

In this Legislative Session, “I was able to move and groove. We got money for Morehouse School of Medicine,” Thomas said.

“When I was in City Council, we put together a [Task Force] on managing gentrification. Not stopping gentrification, because we knew we couldn’t stop it and we want to increase the tax base of the City. But we knew the way gentrification was happening was without regard to seniors and families,” Thomas said.

“Atlanta must once again be a City for all. It can’t be for the have’s and the have-not’s. In Proverbs, it says, the rich and the poor will come together because the Lord is the maker of them all,” Thomas said.

Thomas also says she supports “inclusionary zoning, working with developers to deal with affordable housing.”

Thomas said it’s important to focus on “how much is being spent at the federal level. But since we don’t have accountability… We need some support at the federal level. But not only is Bush out of control; Congress is out of control,” Thomas said.

“We’d like to figure out how to get some federal dollars for Grady. You got to keep what’s strong- strong,” Thomas said.

Thomas said her vision for Atlanta is “Not only to be a City too busy too hate, but a City that begins to love,” Thomas said.

DEVELOPING…

About the author:

Matthew Cardinale is the News Editor for Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at matthew@atlantaprogressivenews.com.

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