Monday, October 22, 2012

Q&A With House District 1 Candidate Tom McMahan (D-Rising Fawn)

1 Short Bio about yourself

I’m 45, a Navy veteran of the Persian Gulf War, currently a teacher who holds a Masters Degree in History from Old Dominion University. I grew up and currently live in Dade County, one of the two counties covered by House District 1 (Walker County is the other). I attend Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Lookout Mountain, TN. I’ve taught alternative high school social studies for 13 years in nearby Catoosa County, GA.

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

I’m a moderate on economic issues, tend to be libertarian on social issues. I’m a Democrat because, as an educator, the Democratic Party is far more favorable to public education than is the Republican Party. In fact, the Democratic Party takes the basic functions of government far more seriously than the current Republican Party does, which seems to frequently hold public service and public life in contempt.

3 Why are you running for the Georgia State House?

I’m not running for state senate, I’m running for state house (district 1). I’m running for it because I’m concerned about the state of public education in this state, the fact that 2/3 of our school systems are on reduced calendar years, a fact that all Georgians should be embarrassed by, and the general decline of our state’s infrastructure and the level of corruption shown by the current majority in Atlanta.

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

Our state’s schools. Public education is the largest expenditure of our state, but it is being allowed to decline year by year for a decade now, with no real signs of reversing that trend. Plus, amendment 1 on this year’s ballot is a direct threat to public education in that it falsely pushes the lure of “choice” while hiding that the intent of the amendment is to turn more and more schools over to for-profit management companies while leaving the traditional schools on marginalized budgets for years to come.

An issue more specific to our district is the lack of representation our district has had for 8 years, as our outgoing representative and the leaders of his own party had their relationship deteriorate to the point where we seldom received any representation at all.

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

The recent penal sentencing reform.

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

Failure to address infrastructure needs comprehensively, as well as passing the charter school amendment and short-changing Georgia’s students.

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

As stated, I want to address the shortfall in revenues that will allow Georgia’s school systems to once again operate on a full 180-day year. I also think changing the HOPE scholarship to a needs-based approach that would allow qualifying students from families making less than $120K/yr to once again receive the full scholarship, which would stem the loss of college students our state is currently seeing.

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 drfited to the GOP over the last decade?

I don’t think we have to consciously “win the hearts and minds,” I think we just have to know our areas, know our constituents, and frame our concerns as the Democratic Party in ways that rural Georgians understand and agree with. This isn’t impossible, it simply requires us to keep our focus on bread-and-butter issues and not play the Republican Party’s game of getting involved in social issues which the state can do little about in the first place.

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

My opponent is a good man, but I believe I will be a more active representative than he would be, I feel that I have more experience with the folks in my district, and my education experience is something sorely lacking among Georgia legislators.

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