APN Chat with Connie Stokes, Congressional Candidate, 4th District
By Matthew Cardinale, News Editor, The Atlanta Progressive News (April 15, 2010)
(APN) ATLANTA -- In our continuing coverage of statewide and Congressional elections, we sat down with Dekalb County Commissioner Connie Stokes, who is running for US Congress for Georgia's fourth district, a seat currently held by US Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA).
Johnson won the seat in 2006 in a Democratic Primary Run-off with former US Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA). McKinney went on to be the Green Party's Presidential nominee in 2008 and is now an international activist.
Johnson was un-opposed in 2008, except for a write-in challenge by Faye Coffield, who is still challenging the ballot access restrictions she faced in that race.
This year both Stokes and former Dekalb CEO Vernon Jones are challenging Johnson for the seat. Johnson also faces questions about his recent revelation that he has been battling Hepatitis C and experiencing side effects from his medications.
Both the Johnson and Jones campaigns have expressed interest in participating in interviews with APN. The Johnson campaign said they hoped to schedule in the next few weeks.
Stokes previously ran for this seat in 2004, when former US Rep. Denise Majette (D-GA) ran for US Senate, leaving an open seat. McKinney beat Stokes and several other candidates in that race.
Stokes said she decided to run in 2004 when the Republicans took over the legislature and stripped her of all her committee leadership roles in the State Senate. She adds that she was supportive of McKinney despite her decision to run for the open seat and that she sent financial contributions to McKinney's previous campaigns.
So far in this election season, APN has interviewed David Poythress, a candidate for Governor; Angela Moore, candidate for Secretary of State; and Beth Farokhi and Brian Westlake, candidates for State School Superintendent. We hope to also bring interviews with more Gubernatorial and Secretary of State candidates shortly.
APN asked Stokes about her position on several substantive public policy issues, and whether she would've supported various bills had she been in Congress the last few years.
FORMER US REP. MCKINNEY INTRODUCED ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT AGAINST GEORGE BUSH; MCKINNEY, LEWIS, AND JOHNSON SUPPORTED A REVIEW INTO POSSIBLE GROUNDS FOR IMPEACHING BUSH; JOHNSON ALSO SUPPORTED IMPEACHING VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY. WOULD YOU HAVE SUPPORTED ANY OF THESE BILLS?
No. I certainly didn't support Bush/Cheney. I wouldn't support impeachment. I wouldn't focus on things that wouldn't go anywhere.
Maybe Cynthia should've stayed focused on, we shouldn't be in Iraq. I would try to counter some of the bad legislation.
I want to focus on three issues--jobs, education, and foreclosures. I'm not running to go back to that [the Bush Administration].
WOULD YOU HAVE SUPPORTED THE HEALTH CARE EXPANSION BILL WHICH OBAMA RECENTLY SIGNED, WHICH LEWIS AND JOHNSON SUPPORTED? WOULD YOU HAVE SUPPORTED HR 676, SINGLE-PAYER, ALSO CALLED MEDICARE FOR ALL, WHICH BOTH ALSO SUPPORTED?
For ten years in the State Senate I advocated for universal health care. I have some concerns. It [the bill that passed] needs many amendments, just like Medicare is still being amended. I would look at how it's affecting people, people being left out, whether small businesses go out of business, if they fire employees to get under 50 people. I would've gone throughout the District. I wouldn't have just held one meeting. I would've voted for it.
Single-payer, I would've taken that bill through the District. It's very important to know if the District is on board. It will never pay for itself. I'm reluctant, how to pay for something, at least there needs to be a sliding scale.
DO YOU SUPPORT NUCLEAR POWER?
I support nuclear power. I've been trying to get around all the issues in Georgia... It has a tremendous job impact. I wouldn't say I support nuclear power, I haven't determined a position and I'm still investigating.
WHAT'S YOUR PLAN TO INCREASE SOLAR AND WIND POWER?
I haven't worked on that. I'm very supportive of alternative energy, it would mean more jobs.
DID YOU SUPPORT THE DEMOLITIONS OF PUBLIC HOUSING?
I was opposed. It displaced a lot of people. It was part of gentrification. It did get away from HUD's original mission. We need to have affordable housing. All that housing they built, 10%, 20% affordable housing, it went away, it wasn't enough. The people went to the suburbs.
DO YOU SUPPORT A NATIONAL STANDARD FOR A VOTER-VERIFIABLE PAPER TRAIL IN ANY ELECTRONIC VOTING USED IN FEDERAL ELECTIONS?
We need to have a paper trail. I like E-voting, but you have to have a paper trail, transparency.
DO YOU SUPPORT RESTORING FELON VOTING RIGHTS IN FEDERAL ELECTIONS?
Yes, once you do what you need to do [complete your sentence], it should be restored [for ex-felons]. That had come up in the State Senate and I supported it.
WOULD YOU SUPPORT A CREDIT CARD INTEREST RATE CAP OF 15% OR 18%? WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU DO TO REIN IN BANK ABUSES?
Absolutely, I would've supported that. All this money was spent to help people with foreclosures. We needed more guidelines to help people stay in their homes. We can't pay their mortgage for the rest of their life, but there should be some help. Banks should negotiate payments and interest rates, that was not regulated.
WOULD YOU SUPPORT REMOVING TROOPS FROM IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN?
It's time for our troops to get out of Iraq. I'm so disappointed and frustrated, there's no exit strategy.
Afghanistan, the problem is we have an exit strategy but we're not getting out quick enough. There's a disincentive [for Afghanistan] to take over the country because we send them billions.
WOULD YOU SUPPORT THE LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA?
I'd have to see how the constituents feel.
HOW WOULD YOU SUPPORT PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION IN GEORGIA?
For Grady, I support a regional trauma care authority. That's what I support for transportation. We get 750,000 dollars for a study [from the federal government for transportation]. Immediately to the north and south they get billions. Atlanta is supposed to be a gateway to the South.
The federal transportation bill that came up for reauthorization. I'd want to make sure we link the Brain Train, link all the universities in the state.
HOW WOULD YOU ADDRESS AFFORDABLE HOUSING?
We need developers. We need to incentivize. I'd use CDBG funding. It [the housing] needs to be intermingled [with market-rate housing and not concentrated]. We need to do it in a way people can afford. We need to collaborate with training and development. Subsidized housing. I support vouchers.
US REPS. JOHNSON AND LEWIS SUPPORTED TROY DAVIS IN HIS DEATH ROW APPEAL AND JOHNSON INTRODUCED LEGISLATION TO REFORM FEDERAL LAW PREVENTING INNOCENCE CLAIMS FROM BEING HEARD. WOULD YOU HAVE SUPPORTED DAVIS OR THIS LEGISLATION?
If I had been there [in Congress] I would've researched and made a decision. I probably would've supported it. I certainly feel you should always have a chance if there's new evidence. I'm sure I would support that.
DID YOU SUPPORT THE PRIVATIZATION OF GRADY HOSPITAL?
The doctors came over. Everyone said it's gonna be a good thing. They came out with a private donor. I decided to go ahead and go for it.
I fought it. I opposed the merger [privatization], I wanted them to convince me. They couldn't cut out clinics. Grady is a hospital for people who have no one to help them. They should not pay for people from other counties.
The private board was not acceptable, no reports to the people. In the end if they say they're gonna go out of business, I had no choice. It would've been irresponsible [not to]. It had seven votes anyway. It would've passed.
WOULD YOU SUPPORT THE BUSH-ERA PLANS FOR NEW NUCLEAR BOMB PRODUCTION OR WOULD YOU NOT SUPPORT FUNDING FOR CONSTRUCTION OF THE NEW FACILITIES?
I support disarmament. I've been interested in the debate around that. I'm for peace, but people go around and take over the country. There are terrorists, but I want to have a plan for peace and disarmament.
About the author:
Matthew Cardinale is the News Editor for The Atlanta Progressive News and is reachable at email@example.com.
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