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Fall ballot choice: Democrats offer fresh faces, ideas that affect lives of local residents
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Democrats are working for freedom, opportunity and security for all Americans. These three core values are shared by all our national, state and local Democratic candidates.

Under freedom, we believe that states should encourage voter participation by automatically registering all legal and permanent residents upon issuance of a driver’s license or state issued ID. We believe that big money should be kept out of political campaigns by overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. We believe paid family leave should include pregnancy, serious illness, care of a family member with a serious health condition or care for a newborn, new adopted or newly placed foster child.

Under opportunity, we support raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour to provide a livable income. We support funding to provide quality education for all children and to make a college or trade school education affordable without the burden of debt. We support funding to build and provide reasonably priced housing.

For security, we support the expansion of Medicaid to provide health care to low-income and military veterans. We support funding for rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure to provide jobs to build safe roads, bridges and transportation.

In these areas, Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine stress the need for research and technology to create industries and jobs in the future to strengthen American manufacturing. To make our country safer, they want to keep assault weapons out of terrorists’ hands by allowing the FBI to stop gun sales to suspected terrorists, enacting background checks and keeping military style assault weapons off our streets. They support law enforcement to build trustful and strong relationships with American Muslim, African-American and Hispanic communities, as we are doing locally through Gainesville United.

The Hall County Democratic Committee is extremely proud of our two local candidates. Michelle Jones is running for Georgia House District 30. She represents the new face of the Democratic Party in Georgia. She is a young woman devoted to her family with a passion for her faith and a desire to serve her community.

As the mother of three children and part of a working class family, she understands the challenges facing people in her district. Specifically, Michelle understands the economic issues facing families, the concerns over being able to get a good education, to feel safe in our homes and communities and to make government work for all its citizens. She will be a strong advocate for the values that have made north Georgia a place people want to call home and ensure that Hall County residents feel like Atlanta is working for them.

Angela Thomas Middleton is our candidate for Hall County Commission District 4. She is a retired teacher from the Hall County School system. For over 30 years, she taught over 12,000 students in the classroom and coached athletes, predominantly basketball. She continues to promote her three C’s to success: character, commitment and cohesiveness.

Character was instilled by her parents, church and community to have love, respect and compassion for all people. Her commitment is the dedication needed for success. Cohesiveness is the ability to work together. She has many cherished memories of the East Hall girls basketball team that worked together to win a state championship title.

One of the biggest issues she sees is the growing concern for affordable housing. There is a mistrust of the commission board for their lack of use of revitalization funds in District 4. This has resulted in funds returned without being used or reallocated. She believes that the lack of affordable housing affects both our communities and businesses. Without such housing, the county is not able to attract quality people to work in our growing industries.

She also strongly believes in community infrastructure. Along with affordable housing are the needs for neighborhood businesses and physician offices, full service grocery stores, recreation facilities, sidewalks, green spaces and libraries in reasonable proximity to one another.

Both Michelle and Angela strongly oppose the proposed Opportunity School District amendment to our state constitution that will be on the November ballot. The amendment would allow Georgia’s governor appointee to take over a public school that is deemed failing. The local school board would lose control of the school, including the principal, teachers and building.

Local per pupil tax dollars would still pay for maintenance of the building and the school most likely would be turned into a state charter school run by a for-profit management company. The school would never be returned to the local school board. There are currently 127 Georgia schools targeted predominately in high poverty areas. To date, none are in Hall County. This has been tried in three other states, including Michigan (think Emergency Managers and Flint).

We are excited to have highly qualified Democratic candidates in this election. From Hillary Clinton to Michelle Jones and Angela Thomas Middleton, they have the experience and values to lead our nation, state and county over the next four years.

Sheila L. Nicholas is Chair of the Hall County Democratic Committee.

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