The Times will be publishing candidate information over the next few weeks for contested races, which can be found at gainesvilletimes.com/election2020. The Times is also offering virtual forums for select races: state House District 29 and 30 and U.S. House District 9. The District 29 event is 5:30 p.m. Oct. 5. Register online and learn more at gainesvilletimes.com/timestalks.
“There sure are a whole lot of mouths to feed and a whole lot of requests, and it’s trying to determine how to balance that,” Dubnik, who took office in 2017, said. “We forget, the budget is the single only thing we’re constitutionally required to do. … Anything else we do beyond pass the budget is technically gravy.”
Dubnik, a Republican from Gainesville, is the appropriations committee’s secretary. He is running against Democrat Pat Calmes in the Nov. 3 election to represent District 29 in the Georgia House of Representatives. The district includes parts of Gainesville, Oakwood and North Hall.
As the state deals with the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dubnik said he is optimistic about Georgia’s future.
“I think from a budgeting standpoint and an economic standpoint, we’re well on our path to recovery and we’re seeing a lot of those positives,” he said.
According to a Sept. 10 news release from Gov. Brian Kemp’s office, Georgia’s August net tax collections totaled nearly $1.89 billion for an increase of $134.5 million, or 7.7%, compared to August 2019, when net tax collections totaled roughly $1.75 billion.
Occupation: Chief engagement officer for Forum Communications
Experience: Took office in 2017
But he said he does see one area where the state could save. With many working from home due to COVID-19, the state could continue that after the pandemic — “If private business can do that, why can’t government? And prospectively save a lot of money?”
“COVID has taught us a lot, and I think we can look across the spectrum to find savings, such as do we need all the real estate, buildings and vehicles that we once had?” Dubnik said.
Dubnik said legislators should work to balance the needs of different regions in the state.
Health care and education should be budget priorities, he said. Dubnik said the legislature has also taken steps to address health care access and affordability, issues he hopes to prioritize in the next legislative session.
“We have to continue to look at rural health care access. We still have counties without doctors, without dentists, without OB-GYNs,” Dubnik said. “… Growing up here, living here, you kind of take it for granted that there’s a doctor’s office on every corner. We have a tremendous hospital and health care system.”
Dubnik said he is glad the legislature has been able to address “surprise billing”— “You shouldn’t need a procedure and then find out you can’t afford it. That doesn’t make any sense”— and maternal mortality.
“For all the things that we’re proud of in the state of Georgia, we don’t rank well when it comes to maternal mortality,” he said.
The legislature voted this year to extend Medicaid benefits for mothers post-partum.
On the issues
He said rural health care access should be a priority. We still have counties without doctors, without dentists, without OB-GYNs,” Dubnik said. “… Growing up here, living here, you kind of take it for granted that there’s a doctor’s office on every corner.” He said he is glad the legislature has taken steps to address surprise billing and maternal mortality.
He said he is optimistic about the state’s economic future, and “as long as we continue to take a common sense approach and don’t get ahead of our skis,” the state could avoid stricter budget cuts. He said the state could find some savings by getting rid of extra real estate and vehicles if more employees work remotely.
COVID-19 pandemic response
“We shouldn’t need government to tell us how to be safe or smart in our daily activities. I believe without a doubt, if you’re sick, stay home,” Dubnik said. He also said the state should help coordinate resources during emergency situations like COVID-19.
Law enforcement issues, reforms
: “I’m not in support in any way of defunding our police or our law enforcement. I support all our law enforcement officers properly enforcing our laws and keeping our community safe,” he said. “I believe in police accountability, but I think the accountability piece is more important than just blanket reform.”
And as the state has dealt this year with another health care emergency, the COVID-19 pandemic, Dubnik said people should accept personal responsibility and do their part to prevent the spread of the virus.
“We shouldn’t need government to tell us how to be safe or smart in our daily activities. I believe without a doubt, if you’re sick, stay home,” Dubnik said. “… Use that thing between your ears that the good Lord gave you. Don’t be out and about.”
The pandemic also showed how state government should work to coordinate resources in emergency situations, he said.
“The (personal protective equipment) that everyone needed from a health care standpoint was crucial,” Dubnik said. “I think that government (should be) helping to be a coordinator, not necessarily a middleman, but to say where can we send ventilators? Where can we send medicine as needed? Where can we send equipment?”
In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, the country has also been addressing racial inequality and having conversations about police reform after several killings by police nationwide. Dubnik praised local law enforcement for being open to conversations with community members about their concerns.
“I do support our freedom to assemble peacefully and to protest peacefully. I’m not in support in any way of defunding our police or our law enforcement. I support all our law enforcement officers properly enforcing our laws and keeping our community safe,” he said. “I believe in police accountability, but I think the accountability piece is more important than just blanket reform.”
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