APN Questionnaire, Catherine Bernard, J. Max Davis, HD 80
(APN) ATLANTA — In Atlanta Progressive News’s continuing coverage of the State House District 80 Special Election, taking place on Tuesday, July 14, 2015, this article presents the remaining candidate questionnaire responses.
District 80 includes parts of Sandy Springs in Fulton County and Brookhaven in DeKalb.
In a four-person race in a Special Election with no primary process, the four candidates are Taylor Bennett, Catherine Bernard, Loren Collins, and former Mayor of Brookhaven J. Max Davis. Bennett is the one Democrat in the race; the others are Republicans.
APN’s questionnaire with candidate Loren Collins is published here:
APN’s questionnaire with candidate Taylor Bennett is published here:
Catherine Bernard is an attorney and activist who has appeared several times in APN’s news archives, both in her critique of the City of Brookhaven in its legal campaign against the Pink Pony nightclub, and in her critique of recent proposed state legislation that would have codified no knock warrants:
Bernard is a former Democrat-turned-Republican, she tells Atlanta Progressive News. She is similar to former State Rep. Mike Jacobs (D-then R-Brookhaven) in that respect.
J. Max Davis served as Mayor of Brookhaven, elected in 2012 and serving until he resigned earlier this year to run for the HD 80 seat. Davis also was the President of Brookhaven Yes, the campaign to create a new City of Brookhaven.
During his term as mayor, Davis has been the subject of controversy and ethical issues, as APN will explore further in an article to be published shortly.
Davis told APN that former State Rep. Jacobs personally asked him to run for the seat because he was concerned about who else might win the seat.
As previously reported by APN, both Bernard and Davis have run against former Rep. Jacobs in the past for that State House seat: Bernard in the Republican Primary in 2012; Davis in the Republican Primary in 2004.
Bernard’s and Davis’s responses are 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?
BERNARD: Yes, and all Senate committee hearings should be recorded in the same fashion that House committees are. Legislators should have at least 24 hours to review legislation prior to voting, and the legislature should abide by the Georgia Constitution’s requirement that bills be confined to a single subject matter. Legislators should pre-file legislation whenever possible in order to maximize public scrutiny and awareness, and should publicize all votes and their reasons for voting so that constituents don’t have to be the ones tracking down their public servants.
DAVIS: Yes, minutes should be kept. I also would move to narrow or eliminate exceptions to the open records law that currently exist.
WHAT IS YOUR POSITION ON NUCLEAR POWER?
BERNARD: It should be available wherever it can be provided cleanly and safely.
DAVIS: I’m in favor of safe, inexpensive reliable nuclear power. It is the most reliable, scalable non-carbon based power we have available.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS, IF ANY, TO EXPAND WIND AND SOLAR IN GEORGIA?
BERNARD: More transparency and accountability for the Public Service Commission, and more free market solutions that allow individuals and groups to choose the energy solutions that make the most sense for their needs.
DAVIS: I support the recent change to allow leasing of solar panels by residential homeowners. I would like to see more jurisdictions take advantage of the low financing available from GEFA (Georgia Environmental Finance Authority).
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?
BERNARD: Yes. When I ran in the 2014 Republican primary for HD80 state representative, I had to write my check to the Georgia Republican Party – ballot access should not be controlled by corporations like the Democrat and Republican parties.
DAVIS: We should give a path to third parties, but there needs to be some rational petition requirement.
WOULD YOU SUPPORT ADDING A VOTER VERIFIABLE PAPER AUDIT TRAIL TO ELECTRONIC VOTING SYSTEMS IN GEORGIA?
BERNARD: Yes, and this is an important priority.
DAVIS: Yes… as we cycle out the older machines we should look at a systematic way to give more confidence in outcomes without breaking the bank.
WHAT IS YOUR POSITION ON THE REFERENDUM TO CREATE A STATEWIDE OPPORTUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT TO TAKE OVER SO-CALLED FAILING SCHOOLS?
BERNARD: Extremely nervous. I support school choice, and making sure that all children have access to high quality education – but I am skeptical of the state’s ability to provide it at a centralized level when it has failed to do so through existing mechanisms (which are extensive).
DAVIS: In favor of it, and in favor of allowing more local control through city based school systems.
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?
BERNARD: Yes, yes, and yes.
DAVIS: I do support in state cultivation for the cannabis oil treatments in our state, and expanded uses as decided by medical professionals and fully vetted. I support more appropriate sentencing for low level drug offenses. I don’t support full legalization.
WHAT IS YOUR POSITION ON CITYHOOD PROPOSAL FOR THE CITY OF LAKESIDE, AND ATLANTA’S PROPOSAL FOR DRUID HILLS ANNEXATION?
BERNARD: Muncipalization is a challenging question. On the one hand, it can be a powerful tool to press for reform in DeKalb County. On the other, it creates another layer of government that can repeat some of the same problems we face at the county and state level. Local control is the best way to organize government (representatives who are closer and more accessible to the people can be held accountable more effectively), but not if it becomes merely a tool of state-level interests and regulations. Ultimately, the most important question is what the residents of the areas under consideration want – so as long as the process is being driven by those residents, and not outside consultants with a financial interest in cityhood, then I support self-determination.
New cities should beware of schemes like the Redevelopment Powers Law, however, which expands debt and eminent domain power beyond the scope of the Georgia Constitution and puts city and county residents at risk of unsustainable financial obligations. As chair of the successful effort to defeat the Redevelopment Powers Law in Brookhaven last fall (60% – 40%), I’m experienced in reading legislation that affects cities and getting that information out to the citizens who need to be making the ultimate decision about our futures.
DAVIS: As the person who headed Brookhaven YES and the first Mayor of Brookhaven I absolutely support those efforts. The people of Druid Hills should have the opportunity to
decide their own destiny.
DO YOU SUPPORT GMO LABELING?
BERNARD: Not if it’s compulsory. Voluntary labeling allows consumers to decide what they value and prevents farmers from being over-regulated.
DAVIS: People should feel comfortable knowing their food. So I support labeling.
DO YOU SUPPORT ANY OF THE RECENT PROPOSALS REDUCING THE EARLY VOTING PERIOD, OR ALLOWING LOCAL JURISDICTIONS FLEXIBILITY TO REDUCE EARLY VOTING?
BERNARD: No. Though we do need to be sensitive to the costs imposed by early voting procedures, as well as the risk that early voting advantages more well-funded candidates, it is important to allow everyone’s voice to be heard.
DAVIS: I think it is a tremendous cost on smaller jurisdictions to do a long amount of early voting. We should allow local jurisdictions to make their decisions while taking into account their local budget issues and allowing for some amount of early voting.