Nikema Williams

Nikema Williams.

Occupation: Deputy Director, National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA)

Previous elected offices held: State Senator, 2017-Present; Chairwoman, Democratic Party of Georgia, 2019-Present

Other community service experience: I am an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; and a board member of the Concerned Black Clergy of Metro Atlanta, SCLC Women, Inc., The Joseph and Evelyn Lowery Institute, South Metro Elected Officials and The People’s Uprising Task Force.

What is motivating you to run for this office?

As your congresswoman, I will build upon the legacy of Congressman John Lewis. Each generation has an obligation to move us closer to true equality for all. Our country, our state and our district are at a pivotal moment. Our district deserves a fighter to combat against the repeated attempts to strip away our rights, our dignity, and our ability to thrive. I will fight as I have throughout my career to make sure that everyone can live the full promise of America.

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

The 5th District has the worst income inequality in the country, largely falling along racial lines. I will champion legislation to address and eliminate the racial and gender-based pay gap, including raising the minimum wage. I have a track record as NDWA’s Deputy Director, working to bring a voice to the often overlooked and overworked segment of our workforce. In Congress, I will carry those voices with me as I fight to dismantle the systems of oppression that continue to perpetuate this cycle.

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

We have yet to see a national response addressing the spread of COVID-19. Passing the HEROES Act is the minimum first step to get financial support to those in need. Additionally, as a COVID survivor, I know full well the high cost of the care I received. High-quality healthcare should not be dependent on your ZIP code, employer or bank account. This pandemic has shined a spotlight on the economic, educational and health disparities in communities across our country.

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

I fully support the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. This legislation would hold all law enforcement officials accountable for their actions, ending “qualified immunity” for police officers, which I introduced as a state Senator. It would also enact uniform policies for the use of force; ban chokeholds and “no-knock” warrants; limit military equipment on American streets; and classify lynching as a hate crime. These are mere first steps in moving us towards the full promise of America for all of us.

The suburbs have been portrayed by presidential candidates as endangered by either crime and multifamily zoning or by disasters worsened by climate change. Do you believe the existence of local suburbs is threatened and if so, by what?  

Our current president uses coded language filled with threats and scare tactics meant to instill fear and divide us as a country. Climate change is absolutely a threat to our entire world and those of us who believe in science recognize how critical it is to address this now. The real threat to our country is a president who has failed our country over and over again, literally putting our democracy on the line.

This office was previously held by the late John Lewis, a renowned Civil Rights activist. What part of his Civil Rights legacy, if any, would you seek to continue if elected?

The passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act will be a top priority. We know that voter suppression plagues not only this state but many others; it should not matter where you live, your right to vote should be standardized across the country. I have a strong record of fighting against the voter suppression tactics engineered to silence our communities. Congressman Lewis taught us, “When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something.” As your congresswoman, I’ll do just that.

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