After retiring from AT&T four years ago, Clifton Marshall began considering the political landscape as one way to fill newly found free time.
“I’ve always had a desire to be in public service. I took the plunge this year,” said the North Gwinnett resident. “It was a calling. I had several affirmations to run. My wife bought in after about 2 to 3 weeks. She has to buy in for me to run.”
The 65-year-old Atlanta native decided to test political waters with a Democratic bid for state Rep. Timothy Barr’s State House District 103 seat, which includes portions of North Gwinnett and South Hall. They face each other in the Nov. 3 general election.
“It has been a very rewarding experience to this point,” Marshall told The Times in an interview this week at Cherokee Bluffs Park in South Hall. “I’m surprised at the number of people who are so encouraging along that line and keep confirming that I did the right thing.”
But like most people, he started decades ago building a life with work and family. After graduating with a degree in economics from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, he went to work for AT&T in Birmingham, Ala.
He started a family, having two daughters, and ended up with his work back in Atlanta, which had been his goal. Then “for the most part, I worked for AT&T for 40 years, either as an employee or as a contractor.”
During those years, he also refereed high school basketball, softball and volleyball. “I don’t do that anymore,” Marshall said. “My wife was telling me I was staying away from home too much.”
Marshall later remarried, having a son in his second marriage, and moved to North Gwinnett, where he’s lived for 16 years. He also has three grandchildren and attends St. James United Methodist Church in Alpharetta.
Considering the issues, he has two major concerns — making sure that education stays fully funded and being an advocate for clean air and energy. He said he would like to see a revival of the electric vehicle credit, giving more incentives for people to buy into that market.
Occupation: retired phone company engineer
Political experience: first run for office
Residence: North Gwinnett County
He also pushes Medicaid expansion, which he believes will not only improve health care for Georgia in general but will add jobs to the economy.
“The failure to expand Medicaid has hurt Georgia, in general, from a funding standpoint as well as a health standpoint,” Marshall said. “That’s part of the challenge we have in dealing with COVID-19. Those without insurance can’t afford to go to a hospital and get checked.”
And then there’s the rising cost of prescriptions.
“A lot of that’s a national issue from a standpoint of getting the drug companies to either provide a generic (option) at a lower price or … reduce their profit level to a point where you don’t have to charge four and five times what it costs to produce the drug.”
Marshall said he believes the economy and the pandemic, which has forced businesses to shut down or close permanently, are inexorably linked.
Marshall: He supports Medicaid expansion, which he believes will add jobs and give more low-income people access to health care. “If we want to have a healthy population and we want people to work full-time, we have to improve these medical situations as best as we can.”
Marshall: The state needs to look at ways of increasing revenue without raising taxes. One possible way is through allowing gambling in designated areas throughout the state, which “would bring more jobs, higher wages and fully fund education.”
COVID-19 pandemic response
Marshall: He believes COVID-19 should be prioritized to get the economy back on track, that the two are linked. “We have to eliminate it or have it in such a small remission that people are not afraid of getting sick." And he’s not against mask requirements. “If you don’t wear (a seatbelt) and they catch you, you get fined.
Law enforcement issues, reforms
Marshall: “There needs to be more training and another group that’s created that deals with mental issues. You can’t get de-escalation if you’re scared. If you’re scared, you’re going to do what you need to do to be alive, even though you’re the only one who has the gun.”
“Concerning the economy in the long run, we have to decide how we want to deal with COVID-19,” he said. “We have to eliminate it or have it in such a small remission that people are not afraid of getting sick. That should be the priority. Expanding Medicaid should help with that.”
Marshall said he believes “if you can require people to wear a mask, especially in close gatherings and in indoor environments, the spread will slow down. I know it’s a civil liberty issue, but … you are required to wear a seatbelt. If you don’t wear (a seatbelt) and they catch you, you get fined.
“It’s not a matter of taking civil liberties. It becomes a matter of looking out for the total well-being of all individuals.”
Otherwise, he believes Georgia needs to look at ways of increasing revenue without necessarily raising taxes.
One possible way is through allowing gambling in designated areas throughout the state, which “would bring more jobs, higher wages and fully fund education,” Marshall said. “It would help all areas of the state.”