Politics, Uncategorized

Georgia Governor’s Race Has 2 Super Heroes…and they both happen to be women

Super women reside in Georgia

You may have heard that it’s that time of year in Georgia —the time to pick the next Governor for the State of Georgia. You may also have heard that the movie “Wonder Woman” opened up last week with rave reviews and topping box offices. (Source) Well, what you may not realize is that we have many “wonder women” right here Georgia. They are in every level of government from both parties. So, you don’t have to look to Hollywood to be inspired. There are super women all around you. However, I’m especially proud to announce that we have 2 super heroes running for Governor…and they happen to be women.

Now as good lawyer let me give you what may be a SHOCKING disclaimer: I am a Georgia bred, fierce Democrat. But this article is not about partisanship—-I am writing to celebrate diversity in our political process. We have 2 wonderful women running for Governor on the Democratic side that I want to highlight. (Sidenote: If you know of anyone other than a white male running on the Republican side, please let me know. I’ll be waiting…)

Noted candidates on the Republican side include Senator Michael Williams (pictured above) whom just served with me on a TAG Corporate Development Society event on Venture Capital, current Secretary of State Brian Kemp who has moderated a TAG Corporate Development Society panel, current Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, and Senator Hunter Hill. And I am proud to say that I personally know them both, having served with them both for the past 6 years in the Georgia House of Representatives. It’s a lot of “Girl Power” that’s about to be unleashed. Are you ready?

Why am I so excited about this race?

It’s Georgia. It’s in the DEEP South. You know, home of Dr. King AND the KKK. Georgia elected its first Governor in 1776, Governor Archibald Bulloch. Fast forward 241 years and you will see something very consistent….and not in a good way. ALL. WHITE. MEN. (Source) Come on folks. It’s 2017. We just finished 8 wonderful (I warned you I was partisan) years of the first black President of the United States, President Barack Obama. And we almost….almost….*sheds tears…..elected our first woman President. I’m excited about the prospects of a change in the Governor’s mansion in Georgia. This is particularly since “progressive” is not necessarily the adjective that comes to mind when people think about my dear home state. And I am not just saying you should support them just because they are women—-but they are QUALIFIED women. THAT should excite you, especially if you are another woman. Now in yet another disclaimer (lawyers are good at those), I am supporting Stacey Evans for Governor for a variety of reasons. But I could not be prouder of these 2 super hero women that I have served with for the last six (6) years.

Introducing the 2 super heroes: Minority Leader Stacey Abrams and House Democratic Caucus Chair Stacey Evans

“The Year of the Stacey”

Let’s get rid of the OBVIOUS elephant (or donkey depending on your political preference) in the room. Yes, both of them are named Stacey. What are the chances right? It’s the “Year of the Stacey” here in Georgia apparently. If your name is “Stacey”, you should be proud. These are amazing women. Both caring, both super smart, both young and did I mention both women?

Stacey “Barrier Breaker” Abrams

Have you met Stacey? If you have, I assure you you’d remember it. She’s very witty—and I think I am pretty witty but she gives me a run for my money. She is currently my House Minority Leader in the Georgia House of Representatives, leading 62 Democrats in an 180 member House. I have often remarked that I don’t see how she does it. Leading followers is one thing; leading other leaders is a task that seems terribly impossible and exhausting. But she was up for the job and was elected to lead our caucus in 2010, when I was first elected.

Current title: Minority Leader of the Georgia House of Representatives

Elected Since: 2006

Residence: DeKalb County (where I was raised and currently serve)

Profession: Tax attorney (Attorneys that understand math are the world’s 8th wonder of the world) and romantic suspense novelist (that’s just bada**)

My Memory of Stacey: When she drove “all the way to Lithonia” (which note is NOT as far as you ITP [Inside the Perimeter] people think) for a fundraiser breakfast at my House. She’s the Leader so I am sure she was extremely busy that day and could have went elsewhere. Since then, I am the legislator that lives “out there” which is fine. I know where the Governor’s Mansion is—and I accept invitations.

Her Superhero Powers: The ability to SHUT DOWN illogical arguments. Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, or one of those tree people, when Stacey rises to ask you a question on the floor or in committee, you had BETTER have your arguments and facts together. No “fake news” will be getting past her. You can disagree with her politically—just make sure it makes sense and you can back it up. Otherwise, by the time you are done, you’ll leave retreating with your tail between your legs. I’ve seen it happen numerous times folks. It’s not a pretty sight.

More about her campaign: Stacey Abrams for Governor

Stacey “Hope for All” Evans

Again, have you met Stacey? If you have, I assure you you’d remember it. She is currently my House Minority Caucus Chair in the Georgia House of Representatives, chairing 62 Democrats in an 180 member House. We were elected at the same time in 2010 and sworn in in 2011. Stacey Evans and I have a lllloonnnnggggg history. We both served in Young Democrats of Georgia at the same time. We also both went to UGA law, although not at the same time. We both went through the White House Project’s “Go Georgia Run” program. Also, we both ran for office at the same time and both got elected at the same time.

Current title: Minority House Caucus Chair of the Georgia House of Representatives

Elected Since: 2010

Residence: Cobb County, which went to Hillary this last cycle (Source) and home of the new Braves stadium

Profession: Securities Litigation Attorney (Since I do securities work as a lawyer, we speak the same language which is refreshing.)

My Memory of Stacey: Lots of them as a personal friend. But most memorable was as a 19 year old sophomore at Oglethorpe University. I interviewed for a position with Young Democrats of Georgia as their Youth Coordinator for the 2002 cycle (ugh—the bad memories of THAT political beating). Anyway, I entered a room at the Democratic Party of Georgia headquarters when it was off Spring Street in Atlanta. There at a table were 3 people: Tharon Johnson, Rashad Taylor and Stacey Godfrey, as was her name at the time. Long story short, they gave me my first political job! Since that time, there have been baby showers, karaoke (we have done a Salt and Pepper duet that will go down in history) and weddings that we have shared. My latest memory is Stacey being on a panel I put together for the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) Corporate Development Society, where I serve on the Board, to discuss venture capital policy in Georgia. She didn’t have to take time out her busy day and away from her daughter Ashley, (whom I refer to as “Little Dar’shun”), but she did.

Her Superhero Powers: The ability to WORK WITH Republicans. Now, anyone who knows me know I am a work in progress when it comes to this. Luckily, Stacey has figured out how to work with people of different perspectives and sometimes annoying reasons. Because of this, she has been able to pass some meaningful legislation. The biggest of these were the HOPE Scholarship and Grant reforms in 2011 and other pieces of HOPE legislation during that time. (Source) For those of you that don’t know, HOPE is Georgia’s scholarship program for Georgia students based on merit that gives scholarships and grants to high school students if certain GPA requirements are met. (See more info) Listen, the reality is that this is admirable and necessary in a state that is currently controlled by Republicans in the House, Senate, Governor’s mansion and EVERY STATE CONSTITUTIONAL OFFICER. Now hopefully that changes soon…very soon. But until then, it is what it is.

More about her campaign: Stacey Evans for Governor

Wrap Up, Call to Action

Maybe I am over exaggerating over the prospects of having Georgia’s first female Governor or, hold on to your seat, our first female AND African American Governor. Maybe because of my “day job” and civic volunteerism, I see the disparity and gap in quality policies that affect me as a woman because women aren’t at the table making the decisions. But maybe, just maybe, this is an opportunity to rally around smart, capable, experienced women to give a new perspective to Georgia politics. It’s probably a combination of all these things.

Either way, I’m ready for the “Year of the Staceys” for 2017 into election year of 2018. I hope you will consider expanding your horizons to consider supporting diversity in ALL levels of local, state and federal government. We do well as a state and nation when we have a variety of opinions and perspectives within the halls of power.

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I am a Diversity Consultant & Owner of Kendrick Advisory and Advocacy Group L.L.C. providing “hands on” consulting services to organizations that want to promote diversity in business and government decisions. More information can be found online at www.DarshunKendrick.com about our vision for “Driving Diversity in Decisions.” I was featured in the Huffington Post as 1 of 25 People Poised to Scale Atlanta’s Growing Inclusive Technology Start Up Ecosystem for Black Americans and Beyond.

I am a lawyer by trade, owner of Kendrick Law Practice, business attorney. I have 2 B.A.s from Oglethorpe University (2004), a law degree from the University of Georgia (2007) and a Master in Business Administration (2011).

I have been elected to the Georgia House of Representatives serving East DeKalb and South Gwinnett counties since 2011 where I serve as the ranking Democrat on the Small Business and Job Creation committee and chair the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus Economic Development Committee.

In my spare time, I am also a board member of the Technology Association of Georgia’s corporate development board, the first sitting legislator to sit on any TAG board, and I am also the founder and Board Chair of a non-profit organization to EDUCATE and EMPOWER minorities on capital access called Minority Access to Capital, Inc.

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Uncategorized, Voting & Elections

Is Expanded Voting Coming to Gwinnett County? See the 2016 Budget Proposals.

Happy New Year (in a couple of days anyway)!

Not only will we bring in 2016 but the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners will also be voting on their 2016 County Budget. I have heard from constituents in the Gwinnett portion of my district (where about 60% of the voting age population reside) about the possibility of shorter early voting days and locations. This is a valid concern…especially given the laws the Georgia legislature has passed to curtail early voting and, in some cases, voting period in Georgia. So I wanted to provide you with some preliminary information before the Gwinnett Board of Commissioners votes on Tuesday, Jan. 5th on the proposed budget. The purpose of this is for INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES since the proposed budget has not been voted on yet.

D93 map

Information To Know

First, here is the proposed Budget Resolution that gives an overall view of the Chairman’s proposed budget. By the way, the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of Gwinnett is Charlotte Nash. I have had the opportunity on several occasions to meet her husband and her adorable dog Oscar, whom I want to run away with but I digress…..

Second, take a look at this information on community services that gives a visual on the proposed budget, specifically at the number of registered voters in Gwinnett and the upcoming election schedule for 2016. Mark your calendar! Be there to vote EVERY time. (Take a look at page 15-16 and pages 20-22.)

So how did the Chairwoman come up with the budget? 

“Chairman Nash invited five county residents and business people to serve on a budget review committee. Two of the committee members graduated from the inaugural class of the Gwinnett Citizens Academy. After hearing presentations from elected officials and department directors in late August and early September, the group studied departmental business plans, budget needs, and revenue projections to make recommendations for the 2016 budget.” (Source– last accessed 12/29/15) I know there have been some that have challenged the integrity of the selection process to this budget review committee. I understand your concerns but they will not be addressed in this blog post.

The Complaint

It’s my understanding that some feel as if Gwinnett county’s voting population is too large to only have the proposed voting dates and locations in place. I am aware that there is a petition that calls for the following: “Demand seventeen (17) days of early voting with ten (10) satellite locations from 7:00am to 7:00pm with 1 Saturday and 1 Sunday included.” The best option proposed by the Board of Voter Registration was twelve (12) days of early voting at eight (8) locations (Source, page 22) . Three recommendations were submitted to the Citizens Budget Review Committee to chose one that fit into the County budget. The Citizens’ Budget Review Committee recommended keeping AIP voting at six (6) days including one (1) Saturday but substantially  expanding the hours for the November General Election from 7am to 7pm.  The Elections Central Office will have 16 days of AIP voting, including one (1) Saturday. (Per Phil Hoskins, Deputy County Administrator via email dated 12/29/15)

The Response

I hear your concerns and want to make sure I provide you with as much preliminary information as possible. I emailed Chairman Nash and she swiftly provided the following response, in part: “[T]he Proposed Budget that I submitted to the District Commissioners in November includes funding for more locations and longer hours for AIP [advanced in person] voting than we have had previously. In total, the Proposed Budget includes almost $7.5 million to fund elections in 2016, including expansion of AIP voting locations and times.”  (dated 12/29/15)

For those of you that vote at the Centerville Community Center and have concerns about that voting location, I was able to get a response from the Chairman as well: ” Based on construction at that location, using it as a location for AIP voting would have resulted in shutting down Senior Center functions there for certain periods of time.  The Board of Voter Registrations and Elections did not want to affect the seniors in this way so the Board chose not to use this location for 2016.” (dated 12/29/15)

For your information, here is a full list of the AIP voting locations from Phil Hoskins, Deputy County Administrator:  With the addition of Shorty Howell Park, Gwinnett County will provide eight (8) AIP voting locations, including the Elections Central Office.  The  AIP voting locations are:  Bogan Park Community Center; Dacula Park Activity Building; Elections Central Office; George Pierce Park Community Center; Lenora Park Activity Building; Lucky Shoals Park Community Center; and Mountain Park Activity Building (note:  the Mountain Park location replaces the Centerville Community Center due to construction plans along with the senior center activities now held at Centerville). (dated 12/29/15) Please note for future reference.

UPDATE: (as of 1/5/16)

GWINNETT ADOPTS

$1.5 BILLION BUDGET

(Lawrenceville, Ga., Jan. 5, 2015) – Gwinnett commissioners adopted a balanced, $1.5 billion budget for fiscal year 2016 at their first meeting of the year on Tuesday. With the exception of slight adjustments made to police budget, it mirrors the proposal made in November. Commissioners spent that time reviewing the budget and comments they received during a December public hearing and through an online form.

The adopted budget holds the line on property tax rates while funding services cut during the recession, addressing concerns about workforce recruitment and retention, and investing in essential infrastructure and critical community needs. Gwinnett Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash said, “This budget invests in the big picture, focusing on what’s really important for our community. It also is in line with our history of sustainable, conservative financial management by looking at future implications of today’s decisions.”

The operating budget totals $1.1 billion, compared to $1.05 billion last year. It includes an additional $7.2 million to cover election expenses and expand hours and locations for advance voting. It also unfreezes 25 police positions and restores staff at the animal shelter and in parks maintenance. Library funding is up to 88 percent of its 2008 level and Gwinnett Transit can add three new express routes. Home care and delivered meals are expanded for seniors on waiting lists. There will be additions to a special victims unit in the District Attorney’s office, 30 new police officers, nine new firefighter/paramedics, 12 new part-time sheriff deputies, three new Juvenile Court positions and another magistrate judge. The budget includes a four percent pay-for-performance increase for eligible employees and the restoration of longevity pay.

The capital budget of $363 million, down from $371 million last year, funds design for a new state patrol building, a courthouse expansion, construction of a new medical examiner/morgue building, senior center renovations and body cameras for police officers and sheriff’s deputies.

Nash again asked five county residents and business people to serve voluntarily on a budget review committee. They heard presentations from elected officials and department directors in September and studied departmental business plans, funding needs and revenue projections with County staff before making recommendations for the 2016 budget.

Call to Action

You have until Thursday, December 31st to submit your comments on the budget to this online comment form if you reside in Gwinnett county. Thank you for allowing me to serve all of you!

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I have been elected to the House of Representatives since 2011, representing over 54,000 Georgians in East DeKalb and South Gwinnett counties. I currently serve on the Juvenile Justice, Interstate Cooperation, Judiciary Non-Civil, and as the ranking Democrat on the Small Business Development and Job Creation committee. I am a private securities lawyer by profession and a native of Atlanta, GA. Please visit my website YouTube, FacebookTwitter and slideshare account for more information on Georgia government.

 

 

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