The Oct. 12 Atlanta Press Club Loudermilk-Young virtual debate for the 5th Congressional District election ended up one-sided as Democrat Nikema Williams declined to participate, leaving Republican Angela Stanton King to answer questions.

The district includes southern areas of Brookhaven and Buckhead. The seat was left vacant by the death in July of U.S. Rep. John Lewis. Stanton King and Williams are running on the Nov. 3 ballot to represent the district for the next two years. A separate special election with other candidates is being held to fill the few remaining weeks in Lewis’s term, with Robert Franklin and Kwanzaa Hall headed to a Dec. 1 runoff.

Angela Stanton King. (Special)

Williams, the state senator in District 39, which includes part of Buckhead, was nominated for the Congressional race by the Democratic Party of Georgia, of which she is the chair.

Angela Stanton King is founder of American King Foundation, which seeks to reunite American families separated by mass incarceration, and is the Georgia regional state coordinator for the Coalition of Leaders United, a conservative political group. She was pardoned by President Donald Trump in February for her 2004 conviction on federal conspiracy charges in a car theft ring.

“Ms. Williams has declined to participate in today’s debate,” said Jennifer Bellamy, anchor and reporter for 11Alive News, who served as the debate moderator.

Williams previously answered questions for the Reporter’s Voters Guide. Stanton King did not respond to Voters Guide questions.

Pandemic response

Bellamy asked Stanton King what she would do to address the pandemic and the needs of Georgia families as a result of the coronavirus.

Stanton King said she’s a mother and business owner. “So I think that it’s very important for us to get people back to work and to get our children back to school, but we have to figure out the safest way to do that,” she said.

The best way to do that, she said, is to listen to the experts and protect the most vulnerable, making data-driven decisions.


Despite Williams’ absence, the debate stuck to a format in which Stanton King got to ask her opponent a question, and offer a response based on what she thought Williams might say.

Stanton King said that many Congressional Democrats opposed “Born-Alive” legislation requiring care for infantas born during attempted abortions. Stanton King asked how Williams feels about that as a mother who, she said, has backed Planned Parenthood for 17 years.

“Why does she support planned Parenthood? And is she really ready to push forward to vote against life when we know that they have legalized late-term abortion?” Stanton King asked.

Answering her own question, Stanton King referred to the Black Lives Matter movement. She said that “we know that black life begins in the womb. So Black lives truly do matter. Then I think that we need to focus on some of these radical left policies that are exterminating Black life in the womb.”

Stanton King said she wants to fund adoption instead of abortion. She said she would focus on preventive measures, “because if we don’t create the lives, then we don’t have to worry about ending the life.”

Secure elections

Answering a question by Maya Prabhu of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about making elections safe and secure, Stanton King said she doesn’t think mail-in ballots are the safest way to have votes counted. People should get out to the polls, show their IDs to prove their identity, and vote, she said.

Criminal justice reform

Stanton King said she was on the ground in Minneapolis during the protests about the police killing in May of George Floyd. She said she was one of the only people of color initially demanding the arrest of the police officers.

She said she doesn’t believe defunding police is the answer, but community policing is necessary.

“We also need to remember that criminal justice reform begins with the police before you ever have a court case [and] that before you ever have a sentence, your first interaction is with that police officer,” she said. “So police reform is a part of criminal justice reform, and we need to bring our community and the police together so we can move forward to make sure that we are living in a safe environment.”

She said she wants to reduce poverty to reduce crime and that fostering entrepreneurship is needed.

“I don’t believe that the people in the community of the 5th District that have been charged with crimes, that the majority of them just wake up one day and say, ‘Hey, I want to be a criminal,’” Stanton King said.

Bob Pepalis

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.