Elena Parent

Elena Parent.


Occupation: Attorney, Holcomb + Ward

Previous elected offices held: Representative of House District 81.

Other community service experience: Board of Visitors, Emory University; It’s the Journey 2- Day Walk for Breast Cancer; Olmsted Linear Parks Alliance Advisory Board.

What is motivating you to run for this office? 

I want to continue my work for a more equal and just society. I believe in opportunity for all, and public investments we all make together through our taxes, like funding public schools, are a big part of providing that opportunity. Further, I believe government provides services that are necessary to lay the foundation for the success of the private sector. In this polarized era, I also take pride in being a voice that works to bring people together while not compromising the values that I hold.

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

The COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest issue voters are concerned about — both from a health and economic perspective. I have been a voice for following scientific guidelines, especially regarding wearing masks. I believe that most businesses can open safely with some protocols, including masks most importantly. It is a shame that the public health response to the pandemic has become politicized. I believe we would be much farther along to eradicating the virus and having a vibrant economy while saving lives if we had handled the pandemic in a uniform way in line with public health expertise from the beginning.

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

My priority is to consult and listen to epidemiologists and other public health experts and scientists. I believe that it is important to get schools open and the economy moving, so we must continue to improve our infection rates. We need to wear masks which allows us to lower infections while not hampering the economy. Public leaders should speak with one voice on this, which unfortunately has not happened and led to the impact of the pandemic being truly tragic for both our state and the entire country.

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

Reforms that are necessary include: a ban on no-knock warrants; a ban on chokeholds; body cameras should be required for police; Georgia’s citizens’ arrest law should be repealed; Georgia’s Stand Your Ground law should be modified to account for whether there truly is a situation requiring self-defense; blanket qualified immunity for police should be ended.  While I am against defunding the police as the term “defund” is generally defined, I do believe that efforts must be made to look at whether policing is being done in an effective way when it comes to individuals who are impaired, either due to mental illness or substance abuse or both.

Tax abatements granted by governments to developers in such hot real estate markets as Brookhaven have been highly controversial. Should any changes be made in state law to the way abatements are delivered, and if so, what are they? 

Yes. Governments should be prohibited in engaging in tax abatements that include PILOT (payments in lieu of taxes) kickbacks. Governments should not be permitted to utilize other local taxing authorities’ anticipated revenue to fund projects benefiting their specific area while holding themselves harmless. State law should also be changed to give local taxing authorities who are not granted the abatements but are donor authorities nonetheless standing in bond hearings. This issue is complicated and needs more study, but these two reforms would be helpful.

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