Josh McLaurin

Josh McLaurin.

Occupation: I’m an attorney associated with the firm Krevolin + Horst.

Previous elected offices held: None.

Other community service experience: Previously served on the boards of the ABA Death Penalty Representation Project and the Clarke County Mentor Program.

What is motivating you to run for this office?

I ran for office in 2018 to keep Georgia focused on issues working families care about, like affordable healthcare, access to education, and reforming a broken criminal justice system. That work is far from done. And in some cases, the legislature unfortunately has moved backwards: rather than protect schools working hard to adapt to the pandemic, the majority party passed a budget that cut $950 million from public schools. We also remember that in 2019, the majority party passed an unconstitutional abortion ban threatening women’s health and personal autonomy. I will continue to oppose these backwards and divisive policies.

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

One: Fixing our state’s broken response to COVID by implementing stronger public health policies, expanding Medicaid, and providing more assistance — and faster assistance — to those hit hardest by the pandemic. Two: Bringing fundamental change to policing and our criminal legal system by reducing unnecessary use of force, ending private probation and private prisons, and focusing on true public safety and restorative justice for our communities. Three: Protecting public education by opposing severe austerity cuts like the $950 billion we lost this fiscal year. Instead, Georgia could have increased the cigarette excise tax or reformed wasteful tax credits costing us billions.

Why should voters keep you in this office?

We need change in Georgia, and I can help bring about that change. Our state’s response to COVID-19 has been embarrassingly bad. I am a strong advocate for common-sense public health policy, like mandating mask-wearing. We also should be doing more to help families during the crisis, including rent assistance and expedited unemployment benefits. By contrast, my opponent’s party has decided to cut back. People have had a hard time getting their UI benefits. Governor Kemp also refused to implement a statewide mask mandate. Worse, he tried to prevent local governments from implementing their own mask policies. That’s not leadership.

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

Stronger public health policies, including a statewide mask mandate. Expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, which would cover hundreds of thousands of uninsured Georgians. Providing more assistance — and faster assistance — to those hit hardest by the pandemic, including expedited unemployment benefits and rent assistance

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

Georgia needs to enact fundamental changes to policing and the criminal legal system. The state can work to eliminate unnecessary use of force by police by setting more restrictive standards for its use, requiring data collection on use of force, and prohibiting departments from re-hiring police who have failed to keep communities safe. Further, the state must work to eliminate counterproductive, costly and dehumanizing features of the criminal legal system like private probation and private prisons.

What is an under-the-radar issue that needs more attention in the next legislative session?

Child care. Before the pandemic, child care was already prohibitively expensive for many families. COVID-19 has made it even more difficult for working families to balance employment with raising children. Georgia must do everything it can to ensure families have access to safe, educational and affordable child care both during and after the pandemic.

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