Steven Knight Griffin

Occupation: Former Policy Coordinator/Mgmt & Program Analyst, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Steven Knight Griffin

Previous experience holding elected offices: None.

Other community service experience: I am an executive board member at For the Kid in All of Us, a wonderful metro-Atlanta charity that provides school supplies and toys for children and families in need. I have also held memberships with employer-based LGBTQ organizations such as GLOBE.

Why should voters choose you for this position?

Firstly, I am the only person in my primary with government and public policy experience, which means I’ll be an effective legislator. Secondly, I know the community very well, having lived here for over 25 years. Thirdly, voters seem to agree it is time for new blood and fresh perspectives – and I believe millennials like myself and the youth more generally are poised to provide it. Lastly, I provide a contrast — we’re all tired of celebrities and the wealthy running this country into the ground. The best cure to the current kakistocracy is everyday people running for elected office.

What is the biggest issue facing the district and how will you address it?

Two issues concern a majority of residents: healthcare and education. There are over 75,000 uninsured individuals in the district. Many politicians like to talk about access to healthcare; that doesn’t mean much in the absence of coverage. We need to expand coverage by restoring the public option and negotiating Medicare drug prices, applying the savings to reduce premiums, increase subsidies and close Georgia’s non-Medicaid-expansion coverage gap. On education, we’re one of the most well-educated districts in the nation; consequently, we also have many students burdened with loan debt. We must make college more affordable via grants and interest rate reductions.

The opioid drug addiction epidemic has been a major issue in the district and nationwide. What strategy do you believe the federal government should pursue to reduce or end the opioid epidemic?

Nearly 400 individuals died of opioid overdoses in our district in 2016. Our first step should be to equip first-responders and the public generally to save lives, providing naloxone kits in exchange for training in proper administration and overdose identification. Secondly, we should focus on and fully fund harm reduction initiatives, addiction recovery services and pharmaceutically-assisted withdrawal treatment. Lastly, we should investigate underlying causes and address them, as well as research and deploy effective alternatives to opioids, such as medical cannabis. A recent UGA study confirmed that legal medical cannabis reduced prescription opioid use and abuse.

Do you believe Congress should authorize such military action as President Trump’s recent military strikes in Syria, and how would you have voted in this case?

It is the sole prerogative of Congress to authorize and fund any offensive military action, and our legislature has unconstitutionally delegated this authority by providing blanket authorization and funding for the use of military force by the executive branch. Each and every military strike has human consequences and real potential for blowback – and so decisions should be supported by evidence and considered thoughtfully. I believe it is right and proper for the international community to punish crimes against humanity, but we should never do so alone. We must also be wary of further inflaming regional and international tensions.

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.