This week marks one year since I first decided to run for office. We have just one short month before the election and this has already been the most eye-opening experience in my career.
A year ago I watched our board work on the 2012-2013 budget and was dismayed that our board members did not ask a single question about the budget line items. Sadly, months ago we learned that Gwinnett County Public Schools central office spending is 30 percent above the state average. Until then, we were totally unaware that the board was paying for two positions at the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce. Now, news stories come out regularly that cast doubt on the efficacy of the school board’s budget decisions.
A year ago we believed our graduation rate was at an enviable 85 percent. Sadly, we now know that it is consistent with the state average of 67 percent.
A year ago, Duluth communities were still stinging from the divisive conflict that redistricting wrought. It is testimony to the character of that community, that they chose to dust themselves off, reconnect and return to the business of living in a wonderful small town.
On the Campaign Trail
I have learned some tough lessons this year about choosing my battles. It’s hard to take it on the chin when the school administrators say that campaigning on school grounds is not allowed if it means handing out business cards at a football game. It would seem that greeting people is what the board thinks of as a “communications channel.” With the news of two lawsuits filed this week against Gwinnett County Public Schools, I sense that we are all about to learn some interesting lessons about the intersection of tax dollars, communication channels and free speech.
And yet, along the way I have had the opportunity to meet thousands of people and make many new friends. I have been humbled by the level of commitment offered by my supporters. People who were strangers a year ago have volunteered hundreds of hours of their time canvassing and chatting me up to their friends. I am now proud to say that I have the bipartisan support of concerned parents throughout this district.
I was told that without at least $50,000, I couldn’t hope to unseat an incumbent. As it turns out, what you really need are dedicated volunteers – willing to offer their skills and services for free. We matched my incumbent opponent's campaign contributions, and we did it with small donations from hundreds of contributors. We definitely have cause for hope, and I promise you this is an opportunity for real change. In the next month we will redouble our efforts to reach out to the community. We need your support and your vote. Tell your friends – make this election matter. We deserve better.