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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Policy

HIV/AIDS in Georgia: Startling facts & call to action!

AIDs Day.jpg

*Friday at 10:30 am I will be moderating a panel on “HIV and Black Women” so please join me under the Gold Dome for an insightful discussion on this important issue.

By now you know that World Aids Day was Tuesday, December 1st. One of the sayings on the World Aids Day organization’s website is “Kisses and Hugs Don’t Spread HIV. Ignorance Does.” Isn’t that the truth? The statistics and survival rates of HIV/AIDS patients has evolved since the 80s but more must be done by way of education to young adults and the population in Georgia specifically.

So here are a few facts you may not have known about HIV and AIDS specifically as it relates to Georgia.

  • Infection rates are high in Georgia and metro Atlanta, with metro-Atlanta ranked 5th in the country for new cases of HIV/Aids
  • Of the 19 public health districts in Georgia, 9 had an HIV/AIDS case rate above the national average.
  • Men who have had sex with men still represent the largest group of people living with HIV in metro Atlanta at 55%.
  • 16% of HIV/AIDS cases result from injection drug use, and the proportion of AIDS in women has grown from 4% to 19% since 1987.
  • While African Americans make up only 29% of Georgia’s population, they represent 77% of all new HIV/AIDS cases and 63% of all existing HIV/AIDS cases in Atlanta were among this group.
  •  Only 43.6% of Georgia residents diagnosed with HIV in 2011 were retained in HIV care, giving it the seventh worst ranking for retention in HIV medical care when ranked among the 19 jurisdictions (18 states plus District of Columbia) that have data for comparison.
  • Among HIV-positive Georgia residents who received HIV care at least once in 2010, only 54.9% had achieved viral suppression. Also, Georgia had the second worst statistic for viral suppression when ranked among 19 jurisdictions that have data for comparison.
  • According to Grady Hospital, by the time patients are diagnosed in Atlanta, almost one third have advanced to clinical AIDS, which greatly decreases the chances of survival from the virus.
  • African American women account for 87% of all women with HIV/AIDS in Atlanta.
  • 50% of new HIV/AIDS infections in Georgia are occurring in young adults age 16-24 years old.
  • According to Grady Hospital, by the time patients are diagnosed in Atlanta, almost one third have advanced to clinical AIDS, which greatly decreases the chances of survival from the virus.
  • Only 43.6% of Georgia residents diagnosed with HIV in 2011 were retained in HIV care, giving it the seventh worst ranking for retention in HIV medical care when ranked among the 19 jurisdictions (18 states plus District of Columbia) that have data for comparison.
  • Among HIV-positive Georgia residents who received HIV care at least once in 2010, only 54.9% had achieved viral suppression. Also, Georgia had the second worst statistic for viral suppression when ranked among 19 jurisdictions that have data for comparison.
  • According to Emory University, black gay men in Atlanta have a 60% chance of contracting HIV before their 30th birthday (Emory University)

Source: Community Foundation for the Greater Atlanta and the Georgia Department of Public Health (last accessed December 8, 2015)

Learn these facts and more about how policy makers will address this issue starting tomorrow under the Gold Dome. Join me and others to tackle this tough issue.

Discussion Question: What can state policy makers do, individually or collectively, to raise more awareness about this epidemic in Georgia?

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2015 At Desk

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, Facebook, Twitter and slideshare account for more information on Georgia government.

 

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