While on Council I was the only vote in favor of alternative transit options. I pushed for autonomous vehicle lanes in the future downtown as well as other possible transit options. Honestly, I can’t believe politicians are still talking about this, setting up committees, or avoiding the hard decisions. Gwinnett is growing and will continue to grow. The fossil fuel industry still has plenty of politicians in their pockets and as a result, we will continue to get more outdated cars on the roads, innovation will be stagnated, and more unhealthy air will be produced affecting healthcare costs and quality of life in Gwinnett. The past didn’t fix the issue, it created it. It will be up to the future to change that. Some new industries have made headway in alternative energies such as electric and autonomous vehicles as well as transit systems that far exceed what most think when it comes to mass transit. I am in favor of a cleaner, healthier future as well as transit that is forward-thinking, not outdated systems of the past. We can work on alleviating traffic, cleaning the air, and giving people who can’t afford vehicle options to get to work and achieve their dreams. We can help the average person get to work while also benefiting the business market by making their storefronts and centers of commerce more accessible with transit. We can do this but it’s going to take principled leadership that is willing to make the tough choices. I have fought for forward-thinking transit options and will continue to do so.
When my wife and I bought our home it was in the Southside of Gwinnett. It was a foreclosure, the house across the street was vacant and the one beside that one was falling apart. Living and campaigning throughout south Snellville the same issue was brought up time and time again. Neglect both in economic development as well as in services such as parks and infrastructure. Gwinnett can no longer neglect certain areas. We must not only be included in our approach towards both private and public development but we must elect leaders willing to make the tough choices required to be forward-thinking. Making a home in the Southside I know the issues of that come with being underrepresented and I will represent the people who for so long have been forgotten.
Opening my own business in Gwinnett County has taught me one fundamental truth that many small business owners face in Gwinnett. The lack of Equality when it comes to regulations is a major issue. Discriminatory regulations must end. Many small business owners and minorities have reached out to me for help when dealing with discriminatory regulations and hurdles they face when trying to bring their dream to life. While in elected office, and out, I have fought to make regulations more equal for businesses seeking to enter the market. The hard truth is things are not equal. Leadership needs to tackle the issue head-on. Gwinnett needs a truly fair system in which businesses can compete regardless of whether they are owned by a person of color or not. A competitive market will push innovation and create overall progress. Competition breeds innovation but this will not exist if the government continues to put hurdles and regulations that disproportionately affect minorities. While on the Snellville City Council I fought to repeal burdensome regulations as well as regulations that I saw where disproportionately affecting minorities. I will fight to make it easier for you to create your dream business in Gwinnett County regardless of how different it may be or where you come from.
The recent voter purges only add to the loss of confidence and trust in our political system. Voter suppression isn’t a recent act. It has been going on for hundreds of years. From the suppression of slaves, women, and minorities. Minorities and women had to protest and fight, some losing their lives, to obtain the right to vote. Suppression of voters is unfortunately still in existence in 2020. I’ve seen numerous candidates criticized and shamed for reaching out to non-traditional voters. That is how bad it’s become. Instead of outdated politicians finding ways to suppress your voice or working to keep certain people on the other side of the tracks from voting we need to find ways to include all peoples into the conversation and ultimately to have them voting for whomever they think is best for the position. It will be up to the leaders of the future to bring all walks of life into the fold. We can do better and I will do my part to make it better by protecting your right to vote.
HOMELESSNESS AND HOUSING
Many people don’t know this and I hate talking about it but I started life on my own when I ran away from home and the streets became my home. Homelessness comes in many shades. Some people paint all homeless individuals with a broad paintbrush. I met some awesome people who lived in the streets who couldn’t get out of the cycle due to many reasons such as credit or past non-violent crimes on their records. When I was on the Snellville City Council I was the only no vote against the Pan Handling Ordinance because I saw its potentiality of abuse and because it only pushes homelessness away instead of helping to solve the issue. When the recent County Commission was working on its budget I was asked by some in the community to come to speak at the budget hearings and to tell my story. I told my story about how I can tell them whats it’s like to sleep in the streets and piss in a bottle. Numerous other people spoke in favor of delegating funds towards homelessness. At the end, when the vote was had, nothing of substance was done. This is the reality. Some elected officials rather look away or pretend it doesn’t exist but the truth is that it does and there are people in need in Gwinnett County. I have fought for and I will continue to fight for them.
TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
When I was elected I would post votes and the reasons why I voted in favor or against. Some of my colleagues in the office weren’t too fond of that. I didn’t care because I belong to the future, not the past. In the past and currently some elected officials rarely ever explain why they voted the way they did. That creates division in the people and continues to stagnate progress. The more informed you are the better Gwinnett will be. Transparency and accountability are two aspects that I have fought for and will continue to fight for as Commissioner. If a department is abusing its power then it must be held accountable. This will not happen if the elected individual continues to turn a blind eye to the injustices occurring to the average person. We need input from all walks of life and every single skin color not just from the same people. When we have a diverse and inclusive group of people engaged in any discussion we will arrive at a better outcome and ultimately make Gwinnett better. The debate will be had and some might even get a bit heated but in the end, it will make all of us better and push Gwinnett towards the future. A future where people will once again trust their elected officials.
Reform was needed decades ago. We need to stop spending tax dollars and resources on outdated policies that disproportional target people of color. Mass incarcerations for non-violent offenders result in a burdening of resources, a waste of tax dollars, and destruction of lives. As Commissioner I will do my part to contribute towards the change needed to put Gwinnett in a better place.
EQUAL OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL
We must become a religiously plural society. I was a substitute teacher in Gwinnett County for about three years. In that time I managed to teach at almost every elementary school in Gwinnett County. One aspect I noticed very quickly was how kids don’t care about how each other looks or what religion each other is from when it came time for recess they all want to play. They all run around the playground, fall and get scuffed up, cry and overall learn from one another. Why is this lost when we get older? This has to change. Instead of putting up walls of division we must embrace those who seek to call Gwinnett home. Gwinnett County is a microcosm of what is possible in the US. In Gwinnett, we have a literal mixing of various religions and ethnicities. We must not let the fear of the unknown guide our actions when it comes to development and instead, we must be equal and inclusive. Gwinnett must be a working example of what is possible when many are welcomed.