Athens for Everyone is excited to endorse Stacey Abrams for governor because she has the right experience and values to take our state’s story in a new direction. Our communities are struggling under a political and economic system that is not working for everyday Georgians and never has. From slavery to segregation to the structures that continue to exclude Black, LGBTQ and working-class communities from full participation in the state’s political and economic life, the wealthy few have controlled this state for their own benefit. But Georgians have always found ways to craft the best lives possible under these adverse conditions, and the South has a long history of folks struggling for a more equitable and democratic future.
The possibility of that future is what’s at stake in this election. Stacey Abrams is committed to taking real steps toward making this state work for all of us, not just the wealthy and privileged. She combines her knowledge and deeply moral values with the personal experience of enduring class inequality, patriarchy and anti-Black systemic racism.
Abrams’ platform has plans to address Georgia’s intertwined crises of inequality, education, healthcare, mass incarceration and housing.
Stacey Abrams supports the Medicaid Expansion hundreds of thousands of Georgians so badly need. Republican leadership in the state is still rejecting the federal money (funded by Georgians through federal taxes) that would cover 90 percent of this expansion. The additional economic activity from bringing back this money would more than cover the remaining costs while making sure rural hospitals stay open and nurses keep their jobs. We’d also like to see a plan like Medicare for All in Georgia that goes further to ensure access to physical, dental, mental and reproductive healthcare without premiums, deductibles or insurance companies, but Medicaid Expansion is a first step that would change thousands of Athenian lives for the better.
To combat our state’s devastating gap between the few with great wealth and the many who struggle to get by, Abrams proposes a state-level Earned-Income Tax Credit that would put more money in most Georgians’ pockets. She also advocates for the right to form a union and negotiate collectively, a jobs plan that would put people to work at good wages in the transition to renewable energy, an expansion of apprenticeship programs, improved access to child care and early learning, paid sick leave for workers, protections from wage theft and “a living wage in every county.” All these policies would make a real difference in diminishing our state’s inequality, and her Republican opponent, Brian Kemp, supports none of them. That said, when so many Georgians go to bed fretting over how they’re going to choose whether to pay for their kids’ clothes, their rent, their dental care or their healthcare premium, the scale of the problem requires even more thorough solutions. In Athens, where we have a below-average unemployment rate (4%) and rampant poverty (35%) due to grossly suppressed wages, we urgently need a $15/hour minimum wage and a massive expansion of good public jobs doing socially useful work like taking care of each other and rebuilding our infrastructure.
Abrams recognizes that our racist system of mass incarceration is ruining people’s lives and wasting money that could be used to build a less rigged economy. She has a particularly strong policy proposal to abolish money bail. We see this need clearly in Athens, where at any given time about 75 percent of people caged at the Athens-Clarke County jail are awaiting trial and have not been convicted of a crime. She also supports decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana. This meaningful (albeit timid) step moves us in the direction of ending the War on Drugs that continues to ravage communities of color.
On education, Abrams advocates for ensuring that our public schools have the resources needed to serve Georgia’s children, with a more robust and equitable K-12 funding formula, greater investments in early learning and more need-based aid for higher education. Athenians would also benefit from her explicit commitment to tuition-free technical college, so that cost wouldn’t be an obstacle to learning critical skills at Athens Tech. Her proposals for wraparound services, child mental-health services and community involvement would support local efforts toward a community schools model. Her education policies point toward a reversal of the neglect and threats our public schools, students and teachers have faced under Republican leadership.
Abrams will combat our state’s dramatic deficit of democracy that, through gerrymandering, voter suppression and a rigged campaign finance system, allows corporations and the wealthy to engineer legislative majorities despite being a small portion of our state’s population. Abrams’ organizing efforts to register voters and her advocacy for expanded early voting, secure voting machines and easier voter registration demonstrate a needed focus on protecting voting rights. While we will continue to urge Abrams to support an independent redistricting commission, she is clear that as governor she would veto Republican proposals for contorted district maps. This ability to enforce fair districts, which would break the stranglehold that Republicans have on the legislature, is absolutely critical to Georgians’ hope of winning a transformative majority in the coming years. It’s a key reason Abrams’ victory on November 6 is especially important and worth fighting for.
A4E’s endorsements reflect a commitment to transforming our community and society. We’ll do all we can to mobilize our 1,387 members to canvass, phonebank and raise hell to elect Stacey Abrams. Her candidacy is an unprecedented opportunity to dismantle the elite networks that have held Georgians hostage for all 230 years of our state’s history. Neither Stacey nor any other candidate is going to ride in on a horse and save us. But if Georgians can get her into the governor’s office, we will make space for our community organizing to thrive and we can win policy to start building a state that works for all of us. Athenians have quickly won victories on local policy, in the special elections of 2017 and a local progressive majority this May. Now we have the opportunity to elect Georgia’s best governor and work for that transformation alongside people across this state. Stacey Abrams can be the governor who stems the tide of centuries of rule by the few. We must all be the force that gets her there.
Athens for Everyone
October 1, 2018
—–Early voting begins October 15, 8am-5pm at the Board of Elections, 155 E Washington St. Make sure you’re registered to vote by checking on this website.
Election Day is November 6.by