Matthew Wilson

Matthew Wilson.

Occupation: Attorney, Wilson Law Firm

Previous elected offices held: None.

Other community service experience: I serve on the board of directors for the Stonewall Bar Association of Georgia and am a prior board member for Georgia Watch, a consumer rights advocacy organization. In addition, last year I was appointed by Gov. Kemp to the statewide Complete Count Commission, helping advise the state’s efforts to ensure all Georgians are counted during the 2020 Census.

What is motivating you to run for this office?

Our work remains unfinished. While I am proud of the successes we’ve had in passing tax relief for Fulton and DeKalb homeowners and reestablishing the DeKalb Board of Ethics, our state has unfortunately continued its backslide under our current leadership. I am asking House District 80 to send me back to the Capitol so I can continue to fight for access to quality, affordable healthcare when so many folks have lost their jobs due to a mismanaged pandemic, and to repeal the unconstitutional, anti-choice forced pregnancy law the legislature passed last year despite my and many others’ strong opposition.

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

The ongoing pandemic remains my top focus — the public health challenges of revitalizing our state’s economy while keeping Georgians safe reach into every facet of our lives, from our schools and businesses reopening to making sure people can afford to go to the doctor if they get sick. I will continue to help my constituents get access to federal and state assistance for their families and small businesses like the PPP and expanded unemployment benefits, and push for the science-driven response to this crisis we have yet to truly see.

Why should voters keep you in this office?

In my first term, I authored or co-sponsored over a dozen measures passed into law as a member of the minority party. I have been listening to my constituents from Buford Highway up to Spalding Drive, taking our priorities to the legislature, and getting colleagues from both parties on board to get things done. I will continue to hold our leaders accountable when they come up short without compromising my ability to deliver for my constituents, regardless of their ideology, identity or access to power.

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

My number one priority in the midst of a global pandemic is keeping our families and neighbors alive.

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

We’ve all heard the cry for deep and meaningful change to our criminal justice system these past few months. What I keep coming back to is how many Americans might be alive or unincarcerated had we heard it sooner. I have co-sponsored legislation to decriminalize marijuana possession, make bad cops liable for their actions, and codify a hate-crimes statute in Georgia. While I’m heartened the hate crimes bill was signed into law, the vitriolic national discourse worries me on our progress on other issues. Still, I will work to build bipartisan support for any solution to injustice.

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?

I expect the legislature will examine this issue closely in the coming legislative session.

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