News 12 interviews gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams

News 12 interview with Democratic nominee for GA Governor
Published: Sep. 11, 2022 at 5:29 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The 2022 midterm election is drawing attention from across the county.

Brain Kemp and Stacey Abrams are facing off again after Kemp’s win in 2018.

Hershel Walker is challenging Senator Raphael Warnock for his seat in Washington.

Abrams was in Augusta on Saturday, rallying at the James Brown Arena. The event focused on her vision of Georgia if she is elected and how she plans to address a wide range of issues..

News 12′s Craig Allison sat down with Abrams before the rally in an exclusive interview to talk about things Augusta and Georgia’s voters are most concerned about.

Abrams said, “But the larger issue is one of the intersections of crime and poverty in the state of Georgia. And while we must do what we can to help support law enforcement, we must also tackle the root causes.”

Abrams goes on to say that while Georgia has a low unemployment rate, she believes this is because many people are working multiple jobs.

Last month Governor Brian Kemp touted the unemployment rate in response to Abrams’ economic plan for the state.

“We have the most people working in Georgia more than any time in history, we have the lowest unemployment rate in our state’s history, we have seen unprecedented levels of trade and commerce,” said Governor Kemp.

Another hot-button topic is the Georgia film industry. Recently California’s Democratic governor, Gavin Newson, offered incentives to film and TV executives who pulled projects from Georgia and other states that pass laws restricting abortions.

In response, a spokesperson for the Republican National Committee issued this statement: “Gavin Newsom can learn a lot from successful Republican governors like Brian Kemp, who has made Georgia the best state to live, work and raise a family.”

According to the governor’s office, film and TV products generated over $4 billion for the state.

“We know that already a thousand producers, showrunners and directors said that they were going to reconsider whether they were going to bring jobs to Georgia because of how these laws are going to affect women,” said Abrams. “But if we have a governor that is actually meeting the needs of our people by saying ‘if you are a film or entertainment product that is employing women, you don’t have to make arrangements to fly that woman to California, or North Carolina, or to another state to give her medical care.”

For more on Stacey Abrams one on one with Craig Allison, you can read the full transcript of the interview below:

Question one: “One part to our local area, I’ve got a couple of statistics here: recently CBS just did a poll from February, calculating 2021 and previously, we’ve got crime ratings per murder rate. Right now, Augusta is ranked the 32nd most dangerous city (in the US), Atlanta is 22, and Columbus is number 20. And recently in our area, we’ve also been seeing an increase in homicides and other sorts of crime come to our area, and I’m just curious, from your standpoint addressing the police system, and how you plan to address crime in general?”

Abrams, “We have to start with the most egregious number for Georgia which is that we are number nine in gun violence. I know that there have been recent incidents here in the Augusta area, it’s happening across the state. A few weeks ago in midtown Atlanta there was a mass shooting. We must reduce gun violence in the state and one way to do that is to repeal the permitless carry, the criminal carry law, that was signed by the current governor. But the larger issue is one: the intersection of crime and punishment in the state of Georgia. And while we must do what we can to help support law enforcement, we must also tackle the root causes. That means decriminalizing being poor, but also giving people more opportunity. Georgia may have a low unemployment rate, but too many people are working multiple jobs. We also know that we have a mental health crisis in Georgia, which is also adding to the violence rate. That is not being addressed adequately, because we are refusing to expand medicaid in Georgia. Medicaid expansion not only delivers $3.5 billion every year in healthcare for your physical health, it also will deliver billions of dollars for mental health care. And one of the challenges in Georgia is that we’re number 48 in the provision of access to mental health services. That means our law enforcement, instead of protecting us from people who are dangerous, too often they’re called on to protect us from people who are simply sick. If we expand medicaid, we can save hospitals, save lives, and let law enforcement focus on the job they should be doing, which is protecting our communities.”

Question two: “We’re coming from a big medical community ourselves that not- and as you said, the CSRA, that we all rely on, not just here in Georgia, but also a little bit from South Carolina. Off of the medical conversation we’ve kind of gotten into; recently within the past year we’ve seen Roe V. Wade be overturned. On the state side, we’ve come back to a law that Governor Kemp signed in 2019 for the six week rule, with exceptions of course. Locally, our DA, Jared Williams, he said that he will not be prosecuting anyone who seeks, provides or supports abortions. So we’ve got a couple of mixed things there but I’m just curious; if you’re coming into office, how are you trying to address this and move Georgia forward?” 14:29:23

Abrams, “The six week abortion ban signed by Governor Kemp in 2019 took affect on July 20th and it is already having an impact on the lives of women in Georgia. This is about medical care. This is about a woman’s ability to control her body, control her future, control her job opportunities. We know that throughout the state of Georgia women are already facing challenges. They know that if they are forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, they are going to risk death, they’re going to risk job loss, they’re going to risk poverty. We know that there are pharmacists that are already refusing to refill prescriptions because they are concerned about whether or not a woman is using the prescription for the right issue. As a woman, I shouldn’t have my medical choices investigated by my pharmacist, but under Brian Kemp and under Brian Kemp’s Georgia, a woman’s right to control her body and control her healthcare is no longer sacrosanct. We also know that this is going to have a deleterious effect on women of color. Georgia has the number one maternal mortality rate in the nation, but for black women, they’re three times more likely to die in pregnancy or after pregnancy. And we know because Georgia has refused to expand medicaid, that one in five women in Georgia does not have health insurance, which means they don’t have regular medical care. That makes the likelihood of going into pregnancy more dangerous for women in this state. We also know that there are CEOs who have signed the letter already, saying that they’re afraid that we’re going to lose jobs in the state of Georgia. Just as we lost music midtown because of Brian Kemp’s dangerous gun laws, we risk losing opportunities throughout the state. And this region, because this is such a healthy region when it comes to access to medical care, women are going to needlessly suffer, not because they can’t get the care, because they’re denied the right to care. And I believe that as next governor, it’s going to be my responsibility to repeal HB481 and to make certain that women have the right to choose in Georgia going forward.”

Question three: “You talked about business. One of the things that you’ve been emphasizing in your campaign, I believe, is small businesses for Georgia. But one of the biggest things that we’re competing with as a state is the film industry. I believe Brian Kemp just recently said in a statement that it brought in $4.4 billion to us; that’s a record for 2022 fiscal year, and I’m just curious you know; keeping that here. Cause we’re competing against New York City, California, What are your plans to try and keep that going for us?”

Abrams, “We know that the film industry is incredibly important to Georgia: $4.4 billion. But we also know that we are losing jobs and opportunities because of the gun laws. Because of the abortion laws. We know that already more than a thousand producers, show runners, and directors said that they were going to reconsider where they were going to bring jobs to Georgia because of how these laws are going to affect women. And we also know that Georgia is not unique in that we got the film industry by taking it from Michigan, and taking it from North Carolina when they started to change their laws. Georgia is not impervious to losing jobs and opportunities but if we have a governor who’s actually meeting the needs of our people by saying that you are a film or an entertainment product that is employing women, you don’t have to make arrangements to fly that woman to California or to North Carolina or to another state in order to give her medical care. It is dangerous for Georgia’s businesses to have the laws that we have and especially the entertainment industry. We know that entertainment is an incredibly fast growing employer, but Georgia can lose that just as easily because we need to remember; that in 2008 when we updated the tax credit, I was a part of that team. And when we updated that tax credit we were bringing jobs that once were in North Carolina, that were in Michigan. So Georgia should never rest easy thinking that we’ve got it and it will stay here because just as easily; New Jersey, California, New York, North Carolina, can take it away.”

Question four: “Your opponent is an incumbent coming into this race and there’s a lot of polarity in terms of democratic vs republican. We recently ran a bit here where we were talking about, in terms of ads, there have been more ads coming from the democratic side addressing the opponents. I’m just curious what sets you apart from your opponent Brian Kemp.”

Abrams, “Well. fundamentally I believe in freedom. I believe in the freedom to have access to housing. The access that we need to healthcare. I believe in the freedom to choose how I’m going to control my body; and my opponent doesn’t. He is willing to come into our bedrooms, he is willing to come into the doctor’s office, but he dosne;t want to give us the freedom to choose our own path. I’m the only candidate who actually has a plan to invest in our teachers, to give them $50,000 as a starting salary and raise salaries by $11,000 so that our teachers can only do one job and that’s the job of educating our children. Too many of our teachers are doing multiple jobs trying to make ends meet. I’m the only candidate who has a plan to invest in law enforcement, especially in our community supervision officers, who are basically our parole officers, and our correctional officers. We are in a crisis in our correctional facilities. They are under investigation in both the state and federal level and we need a governor who actually believes that just because you lose your freedom you don’t lose your humanity. But more than anything, we have a $5 billion surplus in Georgia. My opponent wants to give that to the wealthiest Georgians, which is what he has done with his previous tax games. I want to invest that money in the people of Georgia. We can expand medicaid, we can invest in housing, we invest in our teachers, we can invest in our children; without raising a dime in taxes. Using his numbers and his math, I’ve been able to prove that we can raise expectations without raising our taxes. Now I know he’s going to lie and say that I want to raise taxes; we don’t need to. Georgia has a surplus of money after we’ve paid every bill, and if you want to check my math and check my plan, if you go to my website, you’ll see the spreadsheet and the economist who say we can absolutely do this work.”

Question five: “We can feel a little isolated here and sometimes people are like: Augusta, where is that? Like I only know Savannah or Atlanta and that sort of thing. But, why should Augusta look towards you for a vote?”

Abrams, “I am so happy to be back in the Augusta area. But I know it’s Richmond County, it’s Columbia County, it’s Burke County. I’ve spent time here even when I wasn’t running for office, because I want to serve all of Georgia. My campaign is grounded in one Georgia. The fact that you aren’t next door to the capital city Should not mean that you aren’t top of mind as to what should happen. And it’s been my privilege for 11 years as a legislator, for 15 years in the public space, to do what I can to serve all of Georgia. I’ve worked with Augusta, I’ve worked with Augusta’s leaders, I’ve done my best to make certain that resources and opportunities make their way here. Whether we’re talking about small businesses that need investment, or veterans that need services; I want to make sure that Augusta continues to thrive because it’s one of the jewels of the state of Georgia and this region deserves the same attention, the same investment and the same support as any other part of the state of Georgia.”

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