Betsy Holland

Betsy Holland.

Occupation: VP, Corporate Social Responsibility, WarnerMedia

Previous elected offices held: State House Representative, 2019-2020.

Other community service experience: Nonprofit boards of directors: Communities in Schools, Atlanta Community ToolBank (board chair), ToolBank USA, Fugees Family (board chair). Civic: Georgia Chamber of Commerce, board of directors and board of governors. Religious: Deacon and small group leader, Morningside Presbyterian Church. Volunteer: Garden Hills Garden Club, Acorns to Oaks Foundation, Garden Hills Elementary School.

What is motivating you to run for this office? 

Working Georgians continue to go without access to healthcare, and hospitals are facing financial strains. Now more than ever, we must ensure that every Georgian has an insurance card in his pocket. When I return to the Capitol, I want to implement a COVID economic recovery plan that supports workers and small businesses. I will fight for equal rights and access for all Georgians. Finally, the GOP-led legislature passed a budget that included devastating cuts to public education, mental health services and infrastructure improvements. I’m determined to get back to the Capitol to restore funding for these critical services.

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

The COVID-19 pandemic has left a lasting impact on my community. My first priority is that we follow every precaution to ensure that we wipe out this virus, including wearing masks and restricting large gatherings. Next, we must put a COVID-19 recovery plan in place to help support working Georgians and small businesses. This will include strengthening the Georgia Department of Labor to better respond to claims for payroll protection and unemployment.

Why should voters keep you in this office? 

During my first term in the Georgia legislature, I have supported measures that will protect the lives and livelihoods of the people of House District 54. I have supported measures to improve our public schools, strengthen our hospitals, reduce gun violence and protect our LGBTQ+ community. I stood up against bills that would make it unlawful to take down Confederate monuments and to the anti-choice “heartbeat bill” that passed in 2019. I will continue to fight for expanded healthcare options, for outstanding public schools, and for equity for all Georgians when I return next year.

What would be your policy priority in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic? 

First, we must address the healthcare needs raised by this pandemic. The state legislature can make it a priority to protect nonprofit hospitals and to support healthcare professionals who are fighting this pandemic on the front lines. Next, we must address the economic impact by providing timely support to those who have lost their jobs or felt an impact on their businesses. We need to control the pandemic first so that more businesses can return to normal operations. And we need to be prepared with training and placement opportunities to ensure that people will have new job opportunities.

What state law changes, if any, should follow as a result of this year’s protests about racism and police brutality? 

In 2021, we must examine ways we can better support law enforcement and hold bad actors accountable for bad actions. To better support law enforcement, the state must fully fund services that reduce crime, like mental health services, homelessness support and accountability courts. The state can fund and require body cameras for all police officers to protect officers and those in the community with whom they come into contact. It’s time for the legislature to examine outdated legislation around things like citizen’s arrest to better protect citizens from vigilante justice, as was the case in the death of Ahmaud Arbery.

Buckhead this year has seen an increase in gun crimes and street racing. What state law changes, if any, should be made to tackle these crime problems? 

Recently, the state and local police worked together to begin a crackdown on street racing in the district with good results. This sort of interagency cooperation is critical to address crime issues in our community. The state can and should fully fund agencies that support crime reduction. We can also do more to pass legislation that reduces gun violence and keeps firearms out of the hands of criminals. In 2019, I co-sponsored five bills aimed at reducing gun violence in our community. Sadly, the GOP-ped legislature did not allow any gun safety bills out of committee during this last session.

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