Three Democratic candidates are vying for the chance to fill what’s been a Republican-dominated seat in the U.S. House’s 9th District.
Devin Pandy, Brooke Siskin and Dan Wilson are on the June 9 primary ballot seeking to oppose the Republican candidate — now a crowded field — in the general election this November.
Both parties are seeking to replace U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, who is hoping to unseat U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler.
Occupation: retired from U.S. Army
Political experience: first run for office
Occupation: a small business owner and active in Gwinnett, including with a group bringing alternative transportation to the county
Political experience: unsuccessfully sought House seat in 2012
Occupation: retired United Methodist minister
Political experience: first run for office
Residence: Rabun County
Some Hall County voters have received absentee ballots with an incorrect congressional district listed, although the candidates listed are correct and the ballots can still be used. The incorrect ballots include a heading for Georgia’s 1st Congressional District. Hall County is in the 9th Congressional District.
Ballots in Towns and Stephens counties don't have Siskin's first name listed, but, according to the Secretary of State's office, both her names will be on absentee ballots going forward and for in-person voting.
Pandy, 46, retired from the U.S. Army after 21 years, said he was looking for a way to serve his country again, “but I was thinking more along the lines of putting in more volunteer hours or something like that.”
Then, he was asked by a few people if he would consider running for office. He said he thought he should support someone first, but then decided on a bid of his own.
He has a few key issues, but the big one is his support for universal health care.
“People can choose to get their own private insurance, but everybody should have the option,” Pandy said.
Also, health insurance should not be tied to an employer.
“There is no reason that someone who works for a living and pays their taxes should lose their insurance because their employer goes out of business,” he said.
He also believes America needs to improve broadband infrastructure in rural areas.
“Broadband needs to be offered as a utility,” Pandy said. “It needs to be offered along with gas, water and electricity.”
Brooke Siskin, who has been a small business owner and otherwise politically active, said she ran because she has ”issues that I’ve dealt with in Washington that I want to solve, mainly because I’m a disabled person.”
“I want to represent people who don’t have a voice,” she said.
Siskin, 51, said universal health care is a top issue for her.
“I believe universal health care is a right, not a privilege, and that everyone has access to it,” she said. “And people like me who have a disability need to have affordable access to health care.”
She said she also is concerned about homelessness, domestic violence and the middle class.
“I believe those are people who cross party lines,” she said. “I don’t look at party. I look at the issues.”
Also, Siskin said she would like to see the minimum wage raised, an issue that came to light with many low-income workers losing their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“People are working two and three jobs just to make ends meet,” she said.
Dan Wilson, a retired United Methodist Church minister, said several things led to his candidacy, including frustrations with Collins’ representation in the district and Congress’ ability to get things done.
“Democracy is on life support if we can’t figure out how to start talking to one another again,” he said.
Wilson, 67, said compromise worked during his ministry, but it isn’t happening in government, “and this is a major warning sign historians talk about when they look at the collapse of civilizations.”
He got involved with the local Democratic Party and was later asked if he would be willing to run. He said he resisted at first but then decided to run.
“A key part of my campaign will be how we can get back to bipartisanship and finding things we can work on together,” Wilson said.
The top issue for him is health care “because it impacts so many other areas.”
People’s inability to pay insurance premiums “impacts virtually every aspect of people’s lives, even the business community and the overall economy. I see that as a human right, anyway.”
Candidates on 3 issues
Budget and national debt
Pandy: “Debt doesn’t always have to be looked at as a bad thing. It just depends on what that debt is buying you. All this $3 trillion (in stimulus) has done has enriched the top 1%, the corporations that support this administration, and it has benefited people on Wall Street.”
Siskin: “We need to be funding small businesses. When we talk about bailing out big banks or large corporations, we don’t talk about the small business owners, and those people are struggling now more than ever.”
Wilson: “We virtually have no choice, if we want to protect lives, but to spend money (for stimulus). This is a matter of life and death for many of our citizens. The deficit could be corrected when we come out of this. Whether or not we will have the political will to do that is up for debate. Our tax structure is totally out of whack.”
Pandy: “There needs to be universal health care. There is no reason why the greatest country in the world cannot offer its citizens the human right of health care. If that has to start with a simple expansion of Medicaid, I’m all for that, as well. We need to start somewhere.”
Siskin: “I believe universal health care is a right, not a privilege, and that everyone has access to it. And people like me who have a disability need to have affordable access to health care.”
Wilson: “There are opportunities to do something about health care and not make it a right just for people who can afford it, but make it a human right. I think we’ve got to look at a public option in our health care system, so that health care needs can be met before we reach a crisis point.”
Pandy: “There should be restrictions on who can and cannot legally enter the country, but denying legitimate asylum seekers entry into the country is not who America is. Refusing to allow doctors to provide flu vaccinations to immigrants at the border is not who we are, either. And unless a parent is recognized to be a criminal or a danger to their child, separating children from their parents is not who we are.”
Siskin: “Do I think we should build a wall that costs taxpayers money? No, not necessarily. If you want to come to this country to work and live here, you need a path to citizenship.”
Wilson: “I propose we bite off smaller pieces of this (issue) and build consensus around them. One of the things we know right now is ... we do not have enough immigrants currently coming into the country to sustain the economy. Also, everybody agrees we need border security … the (issue) is we have a whole category of asylum-seeking (people), and there are laws we have ignored or discarded and declared everyone illegal.”