The Times is presenting candidates’ positions on local issues in print editions ahead of the Nov. 8 election. Early voting begins Oct. 17. For more coverage, visit gainesvilletimes.com/election2022.
What to know about this race: Derrick McCollum won the GOP nomination for the seat. Kim Floria faced no opposition in the Democratic primary. A 2021 redrawing of district lines moved state Rep. Emory Dunahoo, R-Gillsville, out of District 30 into District 31, leaving District 30 as an open seat.
How to vote: District 30 spans much of South Hall and, because of redistricting, dips into northeast Gwinnett County. Only those in the district vote. Check your districts at www.mvp.sos.ga.gov.
Meet the candidates
Residence: Flowery Branch
Occupation: sign language interpreter and small business owner
Political experience: first run for office
Family: married with three sons and one granddaughter
Residence: Chestnut Mountain
Occupation: Business owner, retired firefighter, Marine veteran
Political experience: Ran unsuccessfully in 2020 for the House 103 seat held by state Rep. Timothy Barr, R-Lawrenceville
Family: Married with five children and four grandchildren
Candidates on education legislation
The state legislature focused efforts last year toward giving parents more control over their children’s education. What do you see as pressing education issues moving forward?
Floria: “We need to fully fund our schools, which was not done this legislative session at all,” she said. “The focus was only on the divisive concepts and Parents Bill of Rights (legislation). She said she wants to guard against what she sees as “more restrictions about what is taught in the classroom, putting more pressure on teachers and administration.”
McCollum: “We need to get our schools safer, funding wise. For the lack of better words, we need to harden schools a little more. At the end of the day, having public safety on site to better protect our kids is huge.”
Candidates on firearms laws
With mass shootings in the news this year, what legislation, if any, do you favor concerning purchasing, owning and using guns? Explain your answer.
Floria: “I believe everybody has the right to protect themselves … but I’m really open to digging deeper into the issue and whether there could be a balance. I don’t understand the need or desire to have kids who can’t buy beer be able to buy high-capacity guns and ammunition.”
McCollum: A big supporter of the Second Amendment, he said he supports constitutional carry and believes any erosion of gun rights wouldn’t benefit society. “Criminals are always going to buy guns, whether they are legal or illegal. We just need to make sure the best way to fight bad people with guns is to have good people with guns.”
Candidates on the state budget
In the last General Assembly, legislators cut state income tax this legislative session and gave out more than $1 billion in tax rebates. How do you think future budget surpluses should be handled?
Floria: She would like the surplus to go to schools. She believes the state should especially “fund those schools in lower income/poverty areas, which has not been done, and we need to provide social services to students in need such as school counselors and mental health advocates.” She also would like to see continued raises for educators and funding for Medicaid expansion.
McCollum: A big chunk of projected surpluses are “spoken for,” including making up for the state's decision in March to waive its gasoline tax. Otherwise, “I think we need to continue helping Georgians. They’re hurting — gas prices, groceries, everything.” He added: “We are in a recession and if the economy continues going downhill, we are going to need some of the surplus to help Georgians.”
Candidates on abortion legislation
Georgia’s HB 481, or the “Heartbeat Bill,” which bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, took effect July 22 in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that had provided a constitutional right to abortion. What other actions do you believe legislators should take, if any, on this issue?
Floria: She would like to see the Heartbeat Bill repealed. “I am pro-choice. I respect someone’s right to make a decision as I would want them to respect my right to make a decision, to make a choice like that. I don’t think legislators have the right to dictate what a person does with their body.” The future could mean “more restrictions on people’s choices.”
McCollum: A supporter of the Heartbeat Bill, “I just think we need to protect our unborn children,” he said. He noted that while some other states have had an all-out ban on abortions, he would look at other legislation “as it comes, but I think we’re in good shape.”