Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate, spent much of his time during last month’s meeting with Oconee County Democrats outlining his views on solar energy and healthcare.
“Georgia’s number one natural resource is the sun,” Terry told the group meeting at the Bogart Library.
He said one way that Democrats can appeal to voters in conservative, rural parts of Georgia is by talking about the opportunity that solar energy brings to their part of the state.
Terry also said he was in favor of universal health care, which he called a “right” for all citizens.
Terry said he wants to reverse the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, publicly fund elections, and enact comprehensive immigration reform.
Terry focused on his experience as mayor of the DeKalb County city and said voters can judge him by what he has done as mayor, as campaign director for the Georgia AFL-CIO, and as director of the Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club.
A full field of Democratic candidates is seeking to be the party’s nominee to run against incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue next November.
Terry was the second of the declared candidates for the Democratic nomination to run against Perdue to speak before Oconee County Democrats, and about 20 people were in attendance at the Nov. 21 meeting.
About 70 people turned out at the Bogart Library in August to hear former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson make her case for the nomination.
Among the more prominent other candidates are Cobb County businesswoman Sarah Riggs Amico, who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2016, and Jon Ossoff, documentary filmmaker and unsuccessful Democratic nominee for Georgia's 6th Congressional District in 2017.
Candidate filing deadline is March 6 of 2020, and the primary is May 19.
Perdue, a business executive, is completing his first full term in the Senate.
Second Senate Race
Also on the Nov. 3 ballot will be an election to replace Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson, who is stepping down at the end of the year with two years remaining on his term.
Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, has appointed Atlanta businesswoman Kelly Loeffler to replace Isakson in January, and she is expected to compete in the open election on Nov. 3 for the remainder of the term.
Terry told the Oconee County Democrats he had no interest in switching to that race rather than compete for the Democratic nomination for the slot held by Perdue.
No primary will be held for Isakson’s seat, and qualified Democrats and Republicans will appear on the ballot together on Nov. 3 for that spot.
Terry listed his accomplishments as mayor of Clarkston, a city of just less than 13,000 west of Stone Mountain, as a way of leading into his focus on solar energy in his talk to the Oconee County Democrats.
“Clarkston is really known far and wide as a compassionate, welcoming community,” Terry said. He was elected in 2013, and he said “It wasn’t always that way.”
The ethnically diverse city has a large refugee population.
Clarkston was the first city in Georgia to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour for its employees, Terry said.
It also was the first Georgia city that decriminalized marijuana possession and the first city in the state to make election day a holiday for city employees, he said.
Clarkston is one of three cities in Georgia “to commit ourselves to 100 percent clean energy,” Terry said.
Green New Deal
“The people who have been impacted the most by climate change, by pollution, by toxic waste dumps, by the manufacturing sector,” Terry said, “is marginalized communities, communities of colors, is poor people.”
“So as we make this transition,” Terry continued,” we have to put them at the forefront of that investment.”
“I’m proud to say I support the Green New Deal,” Terry said of the congressional resolution introduced by Democrats that lays out a plan for tackling climate change.
“And I’m excited and eager to have the opportunity to represent the Democratic Party as your Senate nominee because I believe that we can go to conservative, rural parts of Georgia and talk about the investment opportunity that solar energy in particular brings,” Terry continued.
Terry said he is not certain that he favors the Medicare for all proposals of Sen. Bernie Sanders or Sen. Elizabeth Warren, both running for the Democratic nomination for president, but he said he certainly favors universal health care coverage.
“If we don’t have a universal health care system, if only some people are paying into it,” Terry said, “we are looking at a bifurcated healthcare system where the people who cannot afford it-- the middle class, the poor, the elderly--are going to be left with substandard care.”
Terry said he wants a system where everyone “is paying into a universal system, just like every other industrialized, developed country in the world, and some that aren’t as wealthy.”
“If they can figure it out, so can we,” Terry said.
“We as Democrats need to be talking about that,” Terry said. “These are real issues that affect real people.”
“It becomes a moral question,” Terry said in response to a question from the audience. “Do you think that healthcare is a right, or should it be a privilege that only those who can afford to pay for it should get?”
Terry said the country needs to change the way campaigns are financed.
“At the end of the day,” Terry said, “we have to--I think--fully transition to a publicly financed system.
“I think no private contributions, no corporate contributions,” he continued "As long as money is considered speech, as long as money influences politics, we will have corruption in our system.”
The Supreme Court, in the Citizens United case, ruled that the free speech provisions of the U.S. Constitution prohibit the government from restricting political expenditures by corporations, labor unions, and other associations.
“We know that dark money is going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in just outright lying,” Terry said. “They are just going to make things up. So let’s tax that.”
Terry proposed giving citizens the right to allocate the revenue generated from such a tax for candidates they favor.
“We are living in the worst refugee crisis in the history of the modern era,” Terry said. “You have to go back to World War II to see this many people displaced from their homes.”
Terry called for the U.S. to be a leader in settling refugees and also called for comprehensive immigration reform generally.
I was out of town and unable to attending the Nov. 21 meeting of the Oconee County Democrats.
I asked Fabiana Hayden, who planned to attend, to record the session for me.
The video below, shot by Hayden, is in two parts. The battery on my camera ran low and, rather than plug in the power cord, Hayden recorded the last five minutes of the meeting on her cell phone.
My estimate of the number of people attending the meeting comes from the view of the audience recorded by Hayden.
Melissa Hopkinson, vice chair of the Oconee County Democratic Party, introduced Terry at 13:40 in the video.
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