Candidate Q&A – House District 81

A sign encouraging people to vote displayed in Avondale Estates. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Decaturish and Tucker Observer sent candidate Q&As to all candidates in our readership area running for state and federal office. The Q&As were sent to House District 81 candidates Scott Holcomb (D, incumbent) and Mary Williams Benefield (R). The answers have not been edited.

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Scott Holcomb

Candidate name and party affiliation:

Scott Holcomb, Democrat (Incumbent)

Candidate website:

www.votescottholcomb.com

What is your occupation?

Attorney

What neighborhood do you call home?

Northlake

Why are you running for this position?

Our state has a number of issues and challenges that need to be addressed. I believe I can be helpful in moving our state forward.

What are your top three priorities if you are elected? 

We have so much to fix that it’s difficult to focus on only three. Moreover, the ability of any legislator to implement policy preferences will be contingent, in part, on the outcome of the governor’s race. That said, I would like to see Georgia: 1) fully fund public education and update the funding formula; 2) fully expand Medicaid (this would insure hundreds of thousands of Georgians at less cost than our current policy; 3) pass additional measures to reform the state’s policies on sexual assault (among other things, Georgia needs to update the definition of rape). For number 3, I have worked on this effort for the last six years and have passed legislation to address the backlog of untested sexual assault kits, to preserve DNA evidence from sexual assault kits, and to establish a statewide sexual assault kit tracking system.

If elected, how will you work with members of the opposite party to accomplish your goals? 

I have strong relationships with members of both parties and I have passed a number of bills on a bipartisan basis. While we live in a very partisan moment of history, there are still many issues where members of both parties can work together.

How will you work with the leadership of DeKalb County to accomplish their legislative goals?

I will continue to be accessible and responsive concerning local matters and priorities.

What is your reaction to the closure of Atlanta Medical Center and how would you work to improve healthcare access for all Georgians? 

The closure of Atlanta Medical Center is devastating. Certainly Medicaid expansion would have helped the hospital and reduced the amount of uncompensated care (which was a key factor that led to the hospital’s closure). This issue of uncompensated care remains a problem throughout Georgia because we have one of the nation’s highest rates of uninsured. Medicaid expansion would provide health insurance to hundreds of thousands of Georgians for less cost than our current policy. This would help all of the hospitals that currently provide services without being compensated. In addition to Medicaid expansion, the state needs to focus on the social factors that influence health outcomes, such as economic opportunity, affordable housing, and educational access and quality. These all play a significant role in health outcomes. In addition, our state needs to do a better job addressing poverty. Georgia has very high rates of poverty, and poverty is associated with adverse health outcomes.

If you are elected, would you support creating new cities in DeKalb County and Georgia? 

I’m open to it, but it has to make sense (economically and otherwise) and there needs to be broad support for the incorporation.

Should the General Assembly pass a law that guarantees a right to have an abortion in the state?

Yes. Georgia should codify the Constitutional rights that the conservative and unelected members of the Supreme Court stripped away when they overturned Roe v. Wade.

What should the state do with any revenue surplus it receives? 

The two most important expenditures at the state level are education and health. Georgia needs to fully fund public education (K-12) and we must also make higher education accessible and affordable. In addition, Georgia needs to invest in the health of its people. The best policy choice to achieve that is full Medicaid expansion. This would insure hundreds of thousands at less cost than our current policy. In addition, the state should budget carefully and ensure it has a sufficient reserve for any economic downturn. During economic downturns, revenues decline but demands for service increase. Smart and careful planning can help ensure that we have appropriate resources to keep our state moving forward.

If you are elected, do you promise to conduct yourself in an ethical and transparent manner? How would you work to promote ethics and transparency in government?

Yes. I believe strongly in transparency and ethical service. Among other things, I regularly share my disclosure filings with my constituents.I support additional efforts toward transparency.

Mary Williams Benefield

Candidate name and party affiliation:

Mary Williams Benefield, Republican

Candidate website:

www.benefieldforga.com

What is your occupation?

Accounting Services

What neighborhood do you call home?

Tucker

Why are you running for this position?

Georgia House District # 81

What are your top three priorities if you are elected? 

Election Integrity – Remove Voting Machines replace with Paper Ballots Georgia Fair Tax Public Safety Support – Increase funding for all Services

If elected, how will you work with members of the opposite party to accomplish your goals? 

Find Common Ground and Work Together on Topics relevant to Georgia.

How will you work with the leadership of DeKalb County to accomplish their legislative goals?

Develop a working relationship to address County Issues that are problem areas. (i.e. Cleaning Voter Rolls and Assisting Dekalb County Board of Elections with clear and concrete Voter requirements.)

What is your reaction to the closure of Atlanta Medical Center and how would you work to improve healthcare access for all Georgians? 

Healthcare Access and all that surrounds that issue require a four-fold solution. Legislative, Private Healthcare Providers, Insurance Companies and Consumers. All four of these entities must be directly involved in finding solutions. Creating a round table discussion that identifies the problems and then finds the solutions.

If you are elected, would you support creating new cities in DeKalb County and Georgia? 

I believe the Cityhood requests should be decided by the Voters in that area.

Should the General Assembly pass a law that guarantees a right to have an abortion in the state?

Georgia currently has legislation that addresses abortion, The Heart Beat Bill.

What should the state do with any revenue surplus it receives? 

Revenue surpluses should go back to the taxpayers of Georgia. Property Owners, Businesses and Tax Payers. Surpluses should be returned to those that paid it in at every opportunity.

If you are elected, do you promise to conduct yourself in an ethical and transparent manner? How would you work to promote ethics and transparency in government?

As a public servant, I am a steward of the public trust and monies. I believe in term limits for every elected position, this prevents political dynasties and long term “deals”.

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