APN Questionnaire, Loren Collins, HD 80 Special Election (UPDATE 1)
(APN) ATLANTA — There is a Special Election in State House District 80 coming up on Tuesday, July 14, 2015, that will determine who will replace State Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-Brookhaven), the former Democrat who turned Republican and who has now been appointed to a State Court judge position in DeKalb County by Gov. Nathan Deal.
The District includes parts of northeast Fulton and northwest DeKalb Counties, including parts of Sandy Springs and Brookhaven, respectively.
Running for the seat in the Special Election are three Republicans–Catherine Bernard, Loren Collins, and former Brookhaven Mayor J. Max Davis–and one Democrat, Taylor Bennett.
Bernard previously ran for this seat when she challenged Jacobs in the 2014 Republican Primary, and received 25.5 percent of the vote, while Jacobs received 74.5 percent.
Bernard has previously appeared in Atlanta Progressive News, both in her critique of the City Council and Mayor of Brookhaven; and in her opposition to codification of no knock warrants in the Georgia code.
Atlanta Progressive News sent questionnaires to all four candidates, and has already received a response from Mr. Collins.
Loren Collins is an attorney and author, who wrote a book called Bullspotting: Finding Facts in the Age of Misinformation. He ran as a write-in candidate for the U.S. Congress Fourth Congressional District in 2006 and 2008.
His responses to the APN questionnaire were as follows:
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?
Yes. As for additional ideas, I think Georgia is already reasonably good about posting video of committee meetings, but I’ve also seen such videos where not everyone had a microphone, and thus portions were inaudible. Video isn’t much help if people can’t be heard on the tape. Also, C-SPAN videos online feature automated transcripts, which despite being frequently unreliable, at least provide *some* ability to text-search the dialogue in videos, and thus to concentrate a search. At the least, videos should be accompanied by a table showing the timestamps when the discussion of particular issues begins and ends. (Floor debate videos often can be 2-3 hours long, with no help as to when a particular bill was discussed.)
WHAT IS YOUR POSITION ON NUCLEAR POWER?
That it is the most viable substitute for fossil fuels given current technology.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS, IF ANY, TO EXPAND WIND AND SOLAR IN GEORGIA?
I haven’t drafted any plans as of yet, but I like any advances in alternative energy technology, particularly when price-competitive with fossil fuels. I’m skeptical that wind energy has much promise in Georgia, other than on the coast, but perhaps I’m underestimating the possibilities. Solar, on the other hand, has made drastic steps forward in recent years, and I expect it to keep improving. I’d be open to reviewing or renewing the most recent state incentive program for solar, to see if the incentives worked and if they were cost-effective, and if not, then to entertain alternative incentives to encourage solar.
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?
Absolutely. Georgia has possibly the most restrictive ballot access laws in the country. As I’m sure you’re aware, there have been instances where the required number of petition signatures to get a third party candidate on the ballot exceeded the number of *votes received* by a winning major party candidate in a party primary.
WOULD YOU SUPPORT ADDING A VOTER VERIFIABLE PAPER AUDIT TRAIL TO ELECTRONIC VOTING SYSTEMS IN GEORGIA?
Probably. I haven’t done a lot of reading on it yet, but I like what I’ve heard. I hesitate to commit too strongly without knowing the price tag, however.
WHAT IS YOUR POSITION ON THE REFERENDUM TO CREATE A STATEWIDE OPPORTUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT TO TAKE OVER SO-CALLED FAILING SCHOOLS?
Still undecided. My immediate inclination was to support it, but I know that a number of education groups opposed it, and I want to review their arguments before formulating a more firm position.
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?
Yes, yes, and yes (with regulation, obviously). And for the record, I say this as someone who’s never used pot at all.
WHAT IS YOUR POSITION ON CITYHOOD PROPOSAL FOR THE CITY OF LAVISTA HILLS, AND ATLANTA’S PROPOSAL FOR DRUID HILLS ANNEXATION?
No strong opinion on either, though I take less issue with Druid Hills joining Atlanta than with [LaVista Hills] forming another *new* city. Personally I believe that Atlanta would probably be better off if it were *more* cohesive, and not divided into small, separate cities. At the same time, I respect that other people feel differently, and their priorities might be different than mine, so if the locals believe that incorporating themselves is in their best interest, that’s their prerogative.
DO YOU SUPPORT GMO LABELING?
DO YOU SUPPORT ANY OF THE RECENT PROPOSALS REDUCING THE EARLY VOTING PERIOD, OR ALLOWING LOCAL JURISDICTIONS FLEXIBILITY TO REDUCE EARLY VOTING?
UPDATE 1 and CORRECTION: In a previous version of this article, APN referred to an upcoming cityhood referendum as the Lakeside proposal. The proposed new city is currently called LaVista Hills, and it was a merger of two former proposals for Lakeside and Briarcliff.