Esteves, Patillo Responses to APN HD53 Questionnaire

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(APN) ATLANTA — In our coverage of State House races this year, Atlanta Progressive News recently sent questionnaires to nine candidates in four different races.

One of those races, House District 53, involves two challengers, Jason Esteves and Robert Patillo, to an incumbent, State Rep. Sheila Jones (D-Atlanta).

Esteves and Patillo have provided APN with their responses to the HD53 Questionnaire.  However, Rep. Jones has not.  Numerous voicemails and emails to Jones have not been returned over the last few weeks.

[To date, State Reps. Pat Gardner (D-Atlanta) and Ralph Long (D-Atlanta) have provided their responses as well.  State Reps. Simone Bell (D-Atlanta) and Rashad Taylor (D-Atlanta), former State Rep. “Able” Mable Thomas (D-Atlanta), and Ken Britt have not yet provided their responses.]

HD53 is one of the districts where two incumbents, State Reps. Jones and Elly Dobbs (D-Atlanta) were redistricted to run against each other.  However, Dobbs decided not to run for reelection and has endorsed Esteves.

Esteves is a business and commercial litigator at the Atlanta law firm of McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP.

Patillo is a civil rights attorney who has his own law firm, the Patillo Law Group, LLC, and previously was involved in the campaign for Ken Hodges, the 2010 Democratic nominee for the Attorney General of Georgia.

The following are the candidates’ responses:

(1) DO YOU SUPPORT OR OPPOSE NUCLEAR POWER?

ESTEVES: I am in favor of comprehensive solutions to providing green and sustainable energy to Georgians.  Nevertheless, I am not willing to remove nuclear energy from Georgia energy solution at this time.  We certainly have to address the issue of nuclear waste, and ensure we are keeping our residents safe.  Aside from the nuclear power issue, a priority of mine will be to ensure our residents have broad and innovative energy options, and that we break free from the monopoly that we have in the state today.

PATILLO: No, after the disaster in Japan it is clear that nuclear energy is not the safe alternative energy source of the future.  I support investment in green, renewable energy sources that will provide safe and clean energy for generations to come.

(2) BALLOT ACCESS MEANS MAKING IT EASIER FOR INDEPENDENT AND MINOR PARTY CANDIDATES TO GET ON THE BALLOT IN GEORGIA.  THE CURRENT PETITIONING REQUIREMENTS ARE ONE PERCENT STATEWIDE, FIVE PERCENT FOR JURISDICTIONS (IE- COUNTY, STATE HOUSE DISTRICT, US HOUSE DISTRICT).  WOULD YOU SUPPORT LOWERING THE PETITION REQUIREMENTS AND IF SO, TO WHAT LEVEL?

ESTEVES: We should absolutely make it easier for independent and third party candidates to appear on the ballot.  Although completely removing petitioning requirements would lead to an unfavorable result, significantly reducing petitioning requirements would strike a better balance between ballot access and ballot integrity.

PATILLO: Yes, I believe that 1% should apply across the broad.  The current system exist only to exclude the voices from the public square.  I believe that our state should be as inclusive as possible.

(3) DO YOU SUPPORT ADDING A VOTER-VERIFIABLE PAPER AUDIT TRAIL TO ELECTRONIC VOTING IN GEORGIA?

ESTEVES: Yes, it is important to have a paper record of an individual’s vote to preserve the integrity of our elections.

PATILLO: Yes.  Every transaction in modern society comes with either a paper or digital receipt. The same should be true for voting.  I believe that our State should adopt a policy that requires a verifiable receipt for all votes.   

(4) WHAT IS YOUR POSITION ON CHARTER SCHOOLS?  SHOULD THE GEORGIA CONSTITUTION BE AMENDED TO ALLOW THE STATE TO OVERRIDE LOCALLY-ELECTED SCHOOL BOARDS’ DECISIONS WHEN IT COMES TO THE CREATION OF CHARTER SCHOOLS?  WHY OR WHY NOT?

ESTEVES: I strongly support charter schools, and am a member of a charter school’s board.  I do not support laws, however, that would allow the state to authorize charter schools without local input.  Community support is key to a school’s success.  Further, in the event that the state authorizes charter schools, the state must provide the funding for the school and not deprive local school districts from needed resources.

PATILLO: I support the adoption of charter schools as articulated in HB 1335 introduced by the Georgia House Democratic Caucus.  The State should not have the power to override the decisions of local communities and for this reason I opposed HB 1662 and all other efforts to de-fund public schools.

(5) WOULD YOU SUPPORT LEGALIZING MEDICAL MARIJUANA IN THE STATE OF GEORGIA?

ESTEVES: No.

PATILLO: No.

(6) DO YOU SUPPORT ENDING THE CURRENT PRACTICE PERMITTING UNLIMITED GIFTS FROM LOBBYISTS TO STATE LEGISLATORS?

ESTEVES: Yes.

PATILLO: Yes.  My campaign has refused to accept ANY donations from lobbyists or special interest groups and I will continues this policy if elected.

(6b) HAVE YOU SIGNED THE COMMON CAUSE GIFT CAP PLEDGE?  IF NOT, WHY NOT?

ESTEVES: I have not signed the pledge, but have publicly supported the proposal, and would co-sponsor the legislation.

PATILLO: Yes.

(7) DO YOU SUPPORT A MORE PROGRESSIVE TAX STRUCTURE?  IF SO, WHAT SPECIFIC TAX REFORMS WOULD YOU PROPOSE?

ESTEVES: The most important step we can take to reform the tax code in Georgia would be to evaluate the incredible amounts of corporate tax incentives we have given away over the past decade to see if they are actually creating jobs for Georgians.  If these tax incentives are working, I am willing to consider supporting them. A tax incentive to a corporation that does not yield any benefit to Georgia workers, however, is a bad deal for the taxpayer.

A similar analysis would have to be done on individual tax incentives.  Some tax incentives, like the private school scholarship tax credit, do very little to benefit the state and its citizens, and should be repealed.

PATILLO: Yes.  I support the re-institution and extension of the State’s sales tax holiday.  Our state should adopt a tax structure that takes pressure off of the poor and concentrates on everyone paying their fair share.

(8) WHAT, IF ANYTHING, WOULD YOU DO TO SUPPORT AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN GEORGIA?

ESTEVES: I support state and local initiatives that require affordable housing options in developments where taxpayer money is involved.  Additionally, we can engage with nonprofits throughout the state, such as Habitat for Humanity, to provide homes at a reasonable price for Georgia workers.  Further, we need to reform our tax structure to ensure our seniors are not detrimentally affected by increases in property value due to the revitalization of our communities.

PATILLO: I would introduce legislation which would turn Georgia into a judicial foreclosure state.  This would give homeowners the right to a hearing prior to the foreclosure of their homes.  I believe that this would give homeowners more bargaining power with their lenders allowing more families to stay in their homes.

(END/2012)

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