Rep. Pat Gardner’s Responses to APN HD57 Questionnaire (UPDATE 1)

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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 57, involves two Democratic incumbents, State Reps. Pat Gardner (D-Atlanta) and Rep. Rashad Taylor (D-Atlanta), who were paired to run against each other in the same district.

Yesterday, APN ran its HD53 Questionnaire including responses from Jason Esteves and Robert Patillo; however, not incumbent State Rep. Sheila Jones (D-Atlanta), who did not respond.

Rep. Gardner has responded to APN’s Questionnaire.  Rep. Taylor, while he had acknowledged receipt of the questionnaire and promised a response by the deadline, has failed to do so.  “Thanks for your email.  I will email you by June 15th,” Taylor had written.

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

Gardner has served in the State House for eleven years; and has previously served as Executive Director of the Georgia Psychological Association and as a spanish teacher.

APN first covered Gardner in 2006, when she stood in support of universal health care in the State of Georgia.

Taylor is a political operative and a mentee to State Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta). Taylor has previously worked at the Democratic Party of Georgia.  

Taylor played an instrumental role in the campaign of Kasim Reed for Mayor in 2009, which launched a vicious attack on then-City Councilwoman Mary Norwood (Post 2-at-large), comparing her to former President George W. Bush, former Gov. Sarah Palin, and right-wing talk show host Rush Limbaugh, due to the fact that she had voted in some Republican Primaries.

Taylor also played an instrumental role in the campaign of John Eaves for Fulton County Chairman in 2010, which attempted to disenfranchise thousands of Fulton County voters by challenging their signatures on ballot access petitions for Mary Norwood, who was attempting to run as an independent.  The campaign did this simply because the Norwood campaign had pre-printed the word “Fulton” on the petitions with the County’s permission, rather than asking voters to handwrite it in.

Taylor also played a role in the 2010 takeover of the Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education by the Gang of Five, which put the school system’s accreditation in jeopardy.  The Gang of Five worked with pro-privatization advocate Glen Delk and pro-privatization PR firm Alisias to assist with the legal and PR aspects of their takeover of the Board.

The following are Gardner’s responses:

(1) DO YOU SUPPORT OR OPPOSE NUCLEAR POWER?

GARDNER: Georgia Power’s proposal to ask ratepayers to pay for a possible nuclear plant was an outrage and I voted against it.   The truth is we need to find ways to become less dependent on coal in Georgia and I believe we need more incentives to assist in the development of alternative sources of electricity and to continue to take conservation seriously in our homes and our businesses.

(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?

GARDNER: The petition requirements are too high and I would evaluate proposals for lowering it based on information from other states and recommendations from a study committee.

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

GARDNER: The voter-verifiable paper audit trail to electronic voting is a good idea and I would support it if the technology could be proven to be reliable and affordable.  Electronic voting is an improvement over the old system.

(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?

GARDNER: Decisions about local schools should remain the responsibility of those who are elected by the taxpayers of that jurisdiction.  I did not support the proposed constitutional amendment on the floor of the House and expect it to fail in November.  There are some excellent public charter schools and I believe they need to be part of the educational options for our families as long as they are accountable to the local school board.

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

GARDNER: I support legalizing medical marijuana.

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

GARDNER: The bill to limit gifts from lobbyists had three signatures and I was number 3.

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

(Left blank.)

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

GARDNER: Modernizing our tax structure is long overdue and it is unfortunate that this year we were not able to vote on more of the recommendations of the Tax Reform Commission that worked long and hard to propose a balanced reform.  We did pass several important measures and I hope we will have more tax reform next year following the recommendations of the Commission.

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

GARDNER: Housing affordability has been overwhelming as homeowners try to hold on to their homes.  Georgia created unreasonable barriers for people seeking to access the federal dollars designated to help people renegotiate and pay mortgages when they have lost their job through no fault of their own.   We must continue to pressure them to make it work.

(CORRECTION: This article previously stated Gardner had been in the House for 22 years and has been corrected to reflect 11 years.)

(END/2012)

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