APN Questionnaires House District 55: Brown, Fitzgerald, Raju
(APN) ATLANTA — In Atlanta Progressive News’s continuing coverage of the June 16, 2015 Special Election in State House District 55, the seat of former State Rep. Tyrone Brooks (D-Atlanta), APN is providing the remaining questionnaire responses by three candidates in the race: Alysia Brown, Mike Fitzgerald, and Raghu Raju.
The responses by Tyrone Brooks, Jr., are published here:
Shelitha Robertson’s responses are posted here:
John Guest’s responses are posted here:
Marie Metze has not provided the responses yet, but said she is working on a thorough response. The responses were due May 25, 2015.
Raju’s responses spanned five pages and have been condensed using ellipses.
DO YOU BELIEVE ALL HOUSE AND SENATE COMMITTEES SHOULD KEEP MINUTES, AND THOSE MINUTES SHOULD BE MADE PUBLIC? DO YOU HAVE ANY ADDITIONAL IDEAS FOR TRANSPARENCY AND PUBLIC PARTICIPATION IN THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS?
BROWN: Yes. I [also] believe elected officials should make voters aware of proposed legislation and kept abreast of passed legislation.
FITZGERALD: Yes, minutes should be kept for all committee and subcommittee meetings and be put into the public record, online, during the session. All contracts should be easily available for the public to review, and not have to go through a lengthy open records process.
RAJU: Yes, I believe all house and senate committees should keep minutes and those minutes should be made public. Provided that there is no rational and substantial legal, privacy rights, public health, safety, security, or welfare purpose or otherwise for keeping a government proceeding/record private, I believe all government proceedings at all levels of government should be undertaken in a fully open and transparent manner including, but not limited to, publishing minutes within a reasonable time period.
Government is not a cabal. Our elected officials must be fully accountable to constituents in an open and timely manner. I favor strengthening in all ways reasonably possible Georgia’s Sunshine Laws, both the Open and Public Meetings Act and the Open Records Act. One purpose of government and, thus, goal of representation, is to consider the general welfare not the specific welfare of individuals or corporations.
Recently 11Alive News aired an exposé on Georgia legislators and backdoor meetings with special interest groups:
It is a dereliction of duty for government representatives to put special interests ahead of the general welfare. We need to make sure that all proceeding and meetings of the Georgia Assembly and representatives thereof are fully subject to both the Open and Public Meetings Act and the Open Records Act…
WHAT IS YOUR POSITION ON NUCLEAR POWER?
BROWN: I’m against it because nuclear reactors are too often placed in Black and poor communities, and the potential for catastrophic plant disasters isn’t worth the value of it. I’d much rather see efforts made towards providing tax breaks for the expanded use of solar or wind power.
FITZGERALD: All forms of energy production need to be considered when we are looking at ways to shrink our carbon footprint. Nuclear has the potential to be a clean source of energy, but the environmental and health concerns with nuclear need to be weighed against the benefits.
RAJU: I support moving our state and nation to as close to 100% renewable energy as possible… That being said, I would only support additional capacity via small modular reactor (SMR) technology not traditional large commercial reactors…
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS, IF ANY, TO EXPAND WIND AND SOLAR IN GEORGIA?
BROWN: I’m committed to all power options pursuant to decreasing our carbon footprint.
FITZGERALD: Wind and Solar energy are becoming more popular in Georgia, and with the new financing that was made possible for homeowners to install solar projects on their homes this past year in the General Assembly solar will expand even more.
RAJU: …As a legislator, I would support and introduce legislation providing more incentives, including subsidies, to develop renewable technology and increase both commercial and residential adoption of renewal [sic] energy production…
If we use solar, wind and other renewable energies in conjunction with electric vehicles (EVs) we can have an almost emissions-free environment on a local basis. However, in the 2015 legislative session Georgia legislators extinguished the EV tax credit. Additionally, legislators passed an onerous $200 user fee on EV drivers, the highest fee on EV drivers in the nation. In one fell swoop Georgia went from the most progressive state to the most regressive state with respect to EV incentives.
As a legislator, I would reintroduce legislation that puts Georgia back in the driver’s seat with respect to EVs including increasing EV purchase and charging station installation incentives for both individuals and businesses. I would include strategic installation of charging stations throughout the state as part of transportation infrastructure legislation.
WOULD YOU SUPPORT REDUCING PETITION REQUIREMENTS FOR INDEPENDENT AND POLITICAL BODY (MINOR PARTY) CANDIDATES FROM THE CURRENT ONE PERCENT STATEWIDE, FIVE PERCENT NON-STATEWIDE REQUIREMENT?
BROWN: Yes, those thresholds are far too high.
FITZGERALD: Yes, Georgia has some of the strictest ballot access laws in the country. The bar is set too high and minor party candidates are shut out.
WOULD YOU SUPPORT ADDING A VOTER VERIFIABLE PAPER AUDIT TRAIL TO ELECTRONIC VOTING SYSTEMS IN GEORGIA?
BROWN: Absolutely, I’m in favor of full transparency of the entire voting process.
FITZGERALD: Yes. We require receipts in every other aspect of our lives and the technology already exists. There is no reason not to have a verifiable paper trail vote voting.
RAJU: Yes, I would support a voter verifiable paper audit trail to electronic voting systems in Georgia. That being said, I believe we will achieve more public participation in government if we develop and adopt technology that enables on-line participation in elections and government proceedings…
WHAT IS YOUR POSITION ON THE REFERENDUM TO CREATE A STATEWIDE OPPORTUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT TO TAKE OVER SO-CALLED FAILING SCHOOLS?
BROWN: I’m against any elected official over-reaching into another elected official’s domain which actually disenfranchises the electorate. That’s the people’s job.
FITZGERALD: I am not in favor of a state takeover of our public schools. I want our local school systems to make the decisions that are right for their schools. I plan to vote no this referendum and will encourage other to do so as well.
RAJU: I am not in favor of top-down approaches to problems, in particular, school issues…
DO YOU SUPPORT AN EXPANDED MEDICAL CANNABIS PROGRAM (IN-STATE CULTIVATION, FULL PLANT MEDICINE, EXPANDED LIST OF CONDITIONS)? DO YOU SUPPORT DECRIMINALIZATION? DO YOU SUPPORT LEGALIZATION?
BROWN: Yes [to medical]. I support both decriminalization and legalization, primarily because of disproportionate sentencing practices along racial lines.
FITZGERALD: I fully support an expanded program for medical cannabis.
RAJU: I support an expanded medical cannabis program including in-state cultivation, full plant medicine and expanded list of conditions. I support decriminalization of cannabis. We should not use our government’s limited resources to imprison individuals for their lifestyle choices. I support legalization of cannabis but with specific possession/time limitations and an age limit of not less than 18 years of age.
WHAT IS YOUR POSITION ON CITYHOOD PROPOSAL FOR SOUTH FULTON, AND ATLANTA’S PROPOSAL FOR SOUTH FULTON ANNEXATION?
BROWN: This isn’t germane to this candidacy.
EDITOR’S NOTE: It is germane because legislation to create a City of South Fulton, and to allow annexation through a referendum method, is pending in the Georgia Legislature for reconsideration in January 2016.
FITZGERALD: I would support both the cityhood and annexation proposals as long as they have the support of the citizens who live there. While there has been a rush to create new cities throughout the metro Atlanta area, I support a more deliberative process that truly gets the input of those people who this will effect more.
RAJU: I support communities that have activated themselves for community improvement. Who best knows the local issues than the locals themselves? Cityhood is a long term proposal that requires both economic and social strength. If the citizens of South Fulton have the economic and social strength and desire for cityhood then let them have cityhood. The residents of South Fulton should determine for themselves whether to opt for cityhood or be annexed by Atlanta.
DO YOU SUPPORT GMO LABELING?
BROWN: Yes there’s a reason GMO’s are banned in Europe and America needs to get onboard.
FITZGERALD: I support helping consumers make educated choices about their food.
DO YOU SUPPORT ANY OF THE RECENT PROPOSALS REDUCING THE EARLY VOTING PERIOD, OR ALLOWING LOCAL JURISDICTIONS FLEXIBILITY TO REDUCE EARLY VOTING?
BROWN: Absolutely not… legislators should be facilitating the voting process, not complicating it.
FITZGERALD: Any reduction in voting opportunities is bad and when elected will work to keep expanded early voting opportunities, including Sunday voting.
RAJU: I do not support reducing early voting periods or allowing local jurisdictions flexibility to reduce early voting. Generally, I think the 2 weeks prior to an election is a reasonable time period in which to vote. In fact, I support making Election Day in November a holiday to enable voters to go to the polls and vote.
Also, I think every person, entitled to vote, should be automatically registered to vote in our state upon receiving state identification. We must stop any and all efforts to curtail voting as such efforts are antithetical to our Constitutional foundation. In a participatory government such as ours, we should make all reasonable efforts to achieve the ideal citizen participation rate of 100%.