APN Chat with HD60 Candidates, Middlebrooks and Waites
(APN) ATLANTA — With the Special Election in State House District 60 coming up on February 07, 2012, Atlanta Progressive News reached out to all three candidates for an interview on the issues.
Theresa Middlebrooks completed a phone interview and Keisha Waites sat down for an in-person interview; however, Latrenka Riley did not respond to a Facebook message or a phone message left with her husband at her home phone number.
Middlebrooks revealed she is being supported by numerous establishment elected officials, including Councilwoman Carla Smith (District 1), Joyce Sheperd (District 12), and Fulton County Commissioner Joan Garner (District 6).
(1) DO YOU SUPPORT OR OPPOSE NUCLEAR POWER?
Middlebrooks: I’D LIKE TO HEAR A LITTLE MORE ABOUT IT. IT CAN AFFECT SO MANY DIFFERENT PEOPLE. I’D LIKE TO HEAR FROM CONSTITUENTS HOW THEY FEEL.
Waites: WE NEED TO LOOK AT FUKUSHIMA. I DO SUPPORT HIGHLY REGULATING IT. I CAN’T SAY I WOULDN’T SUPPORT IT. I WAS PREVIOUSLY ENDORSED BY THE SIERRA CLUB. IT’S SOMETHING WE HAVE TO TAKE VERY SERIOUSLY TO REGULATE AND MANAGE. RIGHT NOW, I WOULD NOT BE SUPPORTIVE OF IT.
(2) DO YOU SUPPORT BALLOT ACCESS, MAKING IT EASIER FOR INDEPENDENT AND THIRD PARTY CANDIDATES TO GET ON THE BALLOT IN GEORGIA?
Middlebrooks: YES I WOULD.
Waites: CLEARLY I WOULD SUPPORT THAT. I’M A CANDIDATE THAT HAS NOT ENJOYED MAINSTREAM SUPPORT. THERE IS A SEGMENT OF THE ELECTORATE THAT FEELS UNDERSERVED AND IGNORED.
(3) DO YOU SUPPORT ADDING A VOTER-VERIFIABLE PAPER AUDIT TRAIL TO ELECTRONIC VOTING IN GEORGIA?
Middlebrooks: YES I DO. I THINK IT’S VERY IMPORTANT TO HAVE A BACK-UP, SOMETHING ELSE.
Waites: I TALKED ABOUT IT IN MANY RACES. YES, ABSOLUTELY.
(4) DO YOU SUPPORT CHARTER SCHOOLS? AND SPECIFICALLY, WOULD YOU SUPPORT GIVING THE STATE OF GEORGIA THE OPTION TO APPROVE A CHARTER SCHOOL EVEN WHEN THE LOCAL SCHOOL BOARD HAS NOT APPROVED THE SCHOOL?
Middlebrooks: I DO SUPPORT CHARTER SCHOOLS, I THINK THEY’RE WONDERFUL. BUT GIVING THE STATE THE OPPORTUNITY, THAT’S SOMETHING I REALLY NEED TO HEAR BOTH SIDES. OUT OF COMMON COURTESY… TO VOTE YEA OR NAY, WHAT IF IT WASN’T A GOOD REASON? CHARTER SCHOOLS SHOULD HAVE THE PRIVILEGE TO GO TO THE NEXT LEVEL. IT’S A GOOD THING FOR OUR CHILDREN. YOU SHOULD HAVE ANOTHER LEVEL TO BE ABLE TO GO TO.
Waites: THERE ARE SERIOUS PROBLEMS WITH PUBLIC EDUCATION. APS AND CLAYTON WENT THROUGH SOME CHALLENGES. I SUPPORT A PARENT’S CHOICE TO SEND A CHILD TO A CHARTER SCHOOL UNTIL WE ARE BETTER ABLE TO DEAL WITH OUR CHALLENGES IN A PUBLIC SCHOOL.
(5) DO YOU SUPPORT DRUG TESTING OF WELFARE RECIPIENTS?
Middlebrooks: I DON’T THINK IT’S FAIR, I DON’T THINK IT’S RIGHT. WHAT MAKES THEM WANT TO DO THIS? IF YOU WANT TO REFORM WELFARE, THAT’S ONE THING. TO SAY YOU’RE GONNA START DRUG SCREENING, THAT’S A BIT MUCH FOR ME.
Waites: I THINK THAT’S COMPLETE INSANITY.
(6) DO YOU SUPPORT HB 397, WHICH WOULD STRENGTHEN GEORGIA’S OPEN MEETINGS AND OPEN RECORDS ACTS?
Middlebrooks: YES, I WOULD BE OPEN TO SUPPORT.
(7) AS THE STATE OF GEORGIA IS LOOKING AT WAYS TO SAVE MONEY BY REDUCING ITS PRISON POPULATION, WHAT PRISON REFORMS WOULD YOU SUPPORT, IF ANY?
Middlebrooks: I WOULD BE IN FAVOR OF REEVALUATING TO LETTING INMATES OUT OF JAIL. YES IT WOULD BE SOMETHING I WOULD LOOK AT. IT DEPENDS ON THE CRIME. AT LEAST HAVE A CHECK AND BALANCE. YOU COULD LET THEM BACK ON THE STREET AND THEY COULD DO SOMETHING HEINOUS. WE SHOULD CHOOSE WHO AND WHEN TO LET OUT. IT’S IMPORTANT TO CONSULT THE VICTIMS’ FAMILIES.
Waites: COMMUTING SENTENCES. OFTENTIMES WE FOCUS ON SENTENCING INSTEAD OF REHABILITATION. THERE IS A MENTAL ILLNESS COMPONENT THAT IS OFTEN IGNORED. WE NEED FUNDING FOR MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES. WHEN THERE’S UNMET NEEDS, THERE’S VIOLENCE.
WHAT IS YOUR PUBLIC SERVICE EXPERIENCE?
Middlebrooks: Served as NPU Z Parliamentarian. NPU Z representative to APAB. Chair of Brown’s Mill Community Association. Chair of Brown’s Mill Judiciary Cmte. Served on the Neighborhood Deputy committee. Attended Georgia Stand-UP training. Served on the Fulton County Commission on Disability Affairs, appointed by former Commissioner Nancy Boxill (District 6). Started a code compliance task force for Brown’s Mill. Attended the Citizens’ Police Academy.
Waites: Chief of Staff for State Rep. Sheila Jones. Served on APAB, and the Boards of the Atlanta Commission on Women, the National Women’s Political Caucus-Atlanta Chapter, Georgia Stonewall Democrats, Fulton County Democratic Party Executive Board, and NAACP-Atlanta chapter.
Participated in Georgia Equality’s People of Color Initiative, co-chaired HRC Gospel and Soul concert, and was a member of WAND, Concerned Black Clergy, Fulton County Young Democrats, and North Fulton Democrats.
In 2001, Waites joined Mayor Shirley Franklin in leading the first Black Gay Pride March in Atlanta. And in 2001, Waites also was the keynote speaker and panelist at the first National Black Lesbian Conference.