Monday, October 22, 2012

Q&A With State Senate Candidate Donald "Gene" Mitchell (D-Fitzgerald)

1.Short Bio about yourself

My name is Donald "Gene" Mitchell. I am originally from Fitzgerald, GA. I am twenty-six years old, and am the second of five children: my older sister Kristy, then my younger sister Denae, and my two younger brothers Morgan and Chance. I graduated from Fitzgerald High School. While in attendance, I played football, wrestling, state winner in Dramatic Interpretation, and participated in one act play. After becoming the first man in my family to graduate from high school, I joined the United States Marine Corps. During my enlistment, I served in an overseas capacity for most of my enlistment all over the world.

At the end of my enlistment, I returned to Georgia to attend college at Mercer University. Mercer was my dream school as a child, but I could not afford the tuition. I was able to put myself through college utilizing the Post 9/11 GI Bill. I graduated from Mercer University with honors with a degree in political science and economics. During my tenure at Mercer, I was invited to participate in a paid internship at American Embassy Oslo, Norway as a political and economic consultant. I also traveled abroad to Eastern Europe to learn more about Post-Soviet Union economics. Lastly, I visited Peru to learn about South American Culture and the current socioeconomic status of the country. Following graduation, I was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to continue my economic research in eastern Europe, but I have deferred that scholarship to run for District seven's state senate race. I am a Christian and live by the passage which saved me, James 2:14-17.

2. Why are you a Democrat;( Progressive, Moderate or Conservative?)

I have always been a Democrat. I am proud to say I have supported other Democrats like me. These great individuals include Former Congressman Jim Marshall, Mayor Gerald Thompson of Fitzgerald, and former U.S. Senator Max Cleland. My party affiliation represents my values of equal access, compassion, and morality. I believe many Georgians today are frustrated with our State government because my constituents believe those who currently represent us do not care about our beliefs. As a Democrat, I believe it is essential to the governmental process that every voice be heard, every voter have access to his representatives, and no matter what a person's societal status that individual should hold equal weight to his fellow citizens. 

I also believe that our government should be one which shows great compassion. I am always troubled when I hear politicians relegate certain people because they live in different circumstances or share different views. We need leaders who are able to bring everyone to the table to share his or ideas, not pit brother against brother. I am also a Democrat because I am a Christian. When my savior walked this Earth, he taught us that we followers should bless the weak, the poor, and the hungry. He also taught us to walk in his image. My Christian values compel me to face this difficult world with my faith in Jesus and to strive be an unwavering example of Him. Today, our state has a black because of all of the politician in Atlanta who take advantage of the government access they posses. We need representatives who will protect are state's reputation and not tarnish it.

3. Why are you running for the Georgia State Senate?

After speaking with thousands of voters across my district, the one major theme that arises from their concerns is that South Georgia no longer has a voice in the political process. A state senator should be measured by the success, or failure, of his legislation and voting record. Because South Georgia does not have the population majority, we need to convince others with big ideas. Along those same lines, the only two races that could prevent a super majority of the ENTIRE GOVERNMENT is my race and Doug Stoner. If we both fail to make our case, then over the course of the next two years no adequate discourse will occur under the Gold Dome. South Georgia cannot afford two more years of failed policies, political posturing, and poor judgement by the likes of the majority party.

4. What’s the most pressing issue facing the state. Your Senate District?

Overwhelmingly, the economy is the number issue in my district and the State as a whole. Even though the State of Georgia is the 19th largest economy in the world, our citizens are suffering through a 9.2% unemployment (that is two points higher than the national average) and my district currently meanders with a 11% unemployment rate. Almost 20% of our citizens live in poverty, we are the fifth highest state with citizens who have no health insurance, and last year agriculture lost ONE BILLION DOLLARS IN REVENUE because of discriminatory policies put in place by our Governor. Now, Republicans are trying to dismantle our constitution by eliminating public education. All of these decisions demonstrate how those in Atlanta have no clue how to build an economy and what steps we need to move forward.

5. What is something you think the current Legislature has done well?

Go to recess so they can no longer do harm to our state.

6. What is something you think the current Legislature hasn’t done well?

That list is very long, but I will point out a few. This year we will see something very rare in state politics. You have a party which promised to lower taxes across the state without explaining the ramifications of those actions. After a decade of heavy cuts and austerity measures, Republicans and the State Chamber of Commerce promoted an increase in tax to invest in rebuilding Georgia's infrastructure.

TSPLOST failed horribly because no one trusts our Governor, the Lt. Governor, the state senate leader, or the leader of the house to follow through on the plans in which they laid out. Now, House Bill 1162 is getting murdered because Republicans are trying to consolidate power in Atlanta over education. This is all because of a lack of moral leadership in Atlanta. If we had leaders who had the moral courage to do what this state needs, then the TSPLOST legislation would not have been written so poorly. A revenue increase would have been passed and sign by the Governor, and then they would have let the electoral process decide whether or not that legislation was necessary. Instead, we have no investment in our future, heavy doubts looming over the future of education, no one trusting the democratic process, but those in power remain. As I see it, only the politicians can win in this environment.

7. What is the number one issue you would address as a State Senator?

The first piece of legislation that I will propose to the State senate will be a law to prevent the state government from cutting education in the state budget for the next ten years. We must send a message to our teachers and educators that we still believe in what they do and the importance of their mission. South Georgia, more than ever, needs an investment which will ensure a vibrant workforce for years to come. This investment will also ensure that we begin the process on curbing poverty and high unemployment in our state.

8. Hailing from rural Georgia. In your opinion what must the Democratic Party of Georgia must do to win the hearts & minds of Rural Georgians who have drifted to the GOP over the last decade? 

Much like the economy, a theory exists that only Atlanta matters. The Democratic Party of Georgia has bought this theory. In my district, only five of the ten counties have active local parties. Only one Democratic candidate ran in the seven house races that cover my district. Even in my race, if I had not ran no Democratic candidate would have ran for this seat. As a state, the Democratic party lost half of the senate by simply not running.

These are not the signs of a successful party. The DPG needs to move away from National politics and refocus on winning our state, especially in the South. Many people are still registered Democrats down here. Most gave large donations to Gubernatorial candidates and Congressional candidates in the past. These same people have stopped supporting Democrats not because of our beliefs, positions, or demeanor, but because they no longer believe we can win. They no longer see a strong party willing to fight for its beliefs. People love to cheer and support winners. We need to show people that Democrats can win again, show people that we can fight too, that we believe in God, and we believe in freedom. But that also means we must believe in ourselves.

9. Why should constituents vote for you on Election Day? What makes you a better choice than your opponent?

If the constituents in South Georgia want a strong voice that will fight to invest in our district, if they want someone who understands what it takes to rise from poverty, if the people of South Georgia want someone who has fought for our country and is willing to put his life on the line for our freedom, values, and fellow man, then I believe they should vote for me, Donald "Gene" Mitchell. As the next State Senator of District 7, I will be a champion of sound economics, growth in our district, and public education. Everything I am, everything I have done, I have done to serve my fellow man, my fellow countrymen, my family, and my God. If South Georgia wants a candidate with courage, a candidate with strong conviction, and ready to serve on day one. I would ask they consider me, Donald "Gene" Mitchell for State senate.

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