People regularly ask why I made the decision to run for office - and why now? The answer comes quickly and easily. And my decision has been confirmed at each campaign stop across Georgia.
The answer's first part is related to my life. I've spent it working in the civic trenches in some form or fashion: from tackling health care, environmental and job issues with various companies; to working at the state capital and in politics; and leading civic initiatives (and writing a book about all of these experiences called “Battling Democracy’s Decline”).
I’ve come to believe that my civic roots stem from genetics. My grandfather George Holahan was a prime example of the Greatest Generation, fighting in World War II and then coming home to lead a life centered on family and community. He earned a Bronze Star in the Pacific Theater but was humble and never discussed it, focusing instead on stories about the camaraderie shared with his fellow Marines. My parents continued his legacy, working as a teacher and nurse, and playing active roles in our sports and arts booster clubs. They instilled the virtues of hard work, commitment to others and giving back. And those lessons carry across my life, from playing sports in college to a career and into this campaign. In some ways, the question is really how could I have not run?
The second reason is the more important of the two because it deals with our state and its people. I look at Georgia and see a place of tremendous opportunity for every citizen and physical beauty to be cherished and enjoyed. Our state leveraged these resources to become the "engine of the New South" the past few decades, leading the nation in quality of life, housing starts and job creation. But the bills of this success have come due and we are facing a leadership vacuum to maintain the things we all hold so dear.
We’ve watched as neighbors like North Carolina and Florida literally caught the train, receiving billions of Federal dollars this month to create high speed rail and other transit solutions while we sit in political and roadway gridlock across Georgia. Our leaders annually celebrate our educational system’s move from 50th in the nation to 49th or 48th. And little has been done to immediately help the more than 10 percent of our friends and neighbors who lost jobs in this serious recession. In fact, it is the decisions (and in some cases inaction) made by elected officials at our state capital that helped fuel the real estate and financial bubble that burst, leaving so many Georgians struggling to make ends meet.
It is within this landscape that I decided to mount a campaign aimed at bringing these issues to light and offering common sense solutions that could move us back to the leadership role Georgia has enjoyed for decades. We need a politics that rises above rhetoric and partisanship and focuses instead on issues and voters.
I am also running because we average citizens have to take a share of the blame too. I regularly tell people that “legislation happens. It’s just whether it happens with us, or to us.” And it is our apathy at the polls and aversion to engage elected officials on issues that has led to this moment too. We’ve led lives of personal pursuits instead of being engaged more-fully in the civic process. And the result has been a government less “of the people, by the people and for the people.” I’ve spent my career engaging and empowering people on civic issues and hope that this run will further our work together.
I believe that people participate when they feel a stake in, and connection to something. And our current situation seems to be driving action anew. Each stop on the campaign trail produces a conversation with people concerned about our future but also demonstrating a deep knowledge of the issue and the steps they are taking to make things different. I also watch with excitement and optimism, the rise of groups like The Tea and Coffee Parties, and college students organizing to fight cuts to programs, student aid and funding.
We must capitalize on this momentum. And we must come together, Democrat and Republican, independent and the disengaged, to discuss the Georgia we want. And we must take action to ensure that our future is brighter than our past.
I’ve decided to run for office to help Georgia reach its full-potential by:
- Ensuring elections are secure and that we also empower and excite eligible citizens to vote
- Developing a new Corporations Division that does more than just administer business paperwork and instead becomes a marketplace for nonprofits, small business owners and entrepreneurs. Done well this will create jobs and grow state revenue by providing more tools of success for these organizations
- Protecting citizens from fraud and financial ruin through the Professional Licensing and Securities Divisions
The stakes are too high to remain on the sidelines. We must take action to ensure Georgia gets back on track, making our families safe, creating jobs that provide a livable wage and delivering a future that is brighter than our past. You now know why I am running. I need your help to win the July election and to begin delivering on these promises. Join me in this cause and let’s bring a “new way forward” in Georgia.