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State Senate District 50 preview: How Dee Daley hopes to bring organizing experience to government
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Dee Daley

After years of community organizing and keeping up with local government, Dee Daley of Clayton decided she wanted to get involved by running for Georgia Senate District 50.

Daley, a Democrat, will face Republican Bo Hatchett in the race to represent the district, which includes part of East Hall and part or all of Towns, Rabun, Habersham, Stephens, Franklin, Banks and Jackson counties. Incumbent state Sen. John Wilkinson, R-Toccoa, decided not to run for reelection to seek the seat for Georgia’s 9th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Daley said she often attends local government meetings in Rabun County, and in 2018 she formed the Rabun County Coalition for Good Government after learning the county was missing out on state funding due to disputes over its Service Delivery Strategy, an agreement between a county and its cities about how services should be provided to residents. The group advocates for government transparency and citizen involvement.

Dee Daley

“We’re a watchdog group in essence, and we are totally bipartisan,” Daley said.

Daley said she hopes to use that experience at the state Capitol.

“We are experiencing vicious partisanship at the state and federal level. The consequences of this partisanship are hurting all of us. As a state senator, I will bring the experience of that coalition and many other coalitions I’ve built,” Daley said. “… I would take those skills to the statehouse and work to break that vicious partisanship, work across the aisle and see other points of view.”

Daley is retired from General Electric and now works as a management consultant. She ran for Clayton City Council last year. 

Daley said health care would be a priority for her in the state legislature and she supports Medicaid expansion.

“Medicaid expansion is in 38 states, in blue states and red states, but our state has not been open to it,” she said.

The state should prioritize affordable health care, she said.

“I am a three-time cancer survivor. I’m alive today because I had a job with good health insurance,” she said.

The closure of rural hospitals is also concerning, she said, and “the focus of our state government should be doing everything we can to save our rural hospitals.”

On the issues

Health care 

She supports Medicaid expansion and support for rural hospitals to prevent them from closing. “I live in this rural area. I know what it’s like. I believe strongly that we need these rural hospitals,” she said. 

Budget, economy 

Daley said the state should focus on bringing in more revenue rather than making cuts, naming a cigarette tax and Medicaid expansion as possible ways to bring funds in. 

COVID-19 response 

“I do not believe that COVID is a political issue. It’s a health care emergency, and as a member of the state government, we have a responsibility to provide safety for all of us,” she said. “Certainly, paying attention to the scientists is where I would want us to focus, as opposed to the politicians.” 

Law enforcement issues, reforms 

Discussions about law enforcement should happen at the local level, she said. “I would be a proponent of it being handled at the level of the community. I live in a wonderful community with terrific relationships with our law enforcement,” she said. “However, that’s not the situation everywhere.”

“I live in this rural area. I know what it’s like. I believe strongly that we need these rural hospitals,” she said. “To have them close left and right means people are driving maybe 40 minutes. What if I have a stroke? Just to get to triage, it could take me that long.”

Daley said she would also propose increased funding for public education, including the full funding of the Quality Basic Education formula.

As the state prepares to make budget adjustments to deal with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Daley said she “would offer that we look at generating revenue rather than being so strident in cutting” the budget.

A cigarette tax and Medicaid expansion could help bring funds in, Daley said.

And when it comes to recovering from COVID-19 and mitigating its spread, Daley said the state should look to science.

“I do not believe that COVID is a political issue. It’s a health care emergency, and as a member of the state government, we have a responsibility to provide safety for all of us,” she said. “Certainly, paying attention to the scientists is where I would want us to focus, as opposed to the politicians.”

In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, the country has been addressing racial inequality and police reform this year. Daley said she has family members who work in law enforcement and recognizes their contribution to public safety.

“The issues have to be addressed at the local level and be inclusive of the people that are impacted. We have to protect our police and we have to protect all of our citizens,” she said.

Possible reforms in law enforcement could vary based on community needs, Daley said.

“I would be a proponent of it being handled at the level of the community. I live in a wonderful community with terrific relationships with our law enforcement,” she said. “However, that’s not the situation everywhere.”

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