A crowded field has appeared in the race for the next representative for Georgia’s 7th House District, and this week, two candidates had a chance to speak with Forsyth County voters.
On Monday, Republican candidates Mark Gonsalves and Jacqueline Tseng spoke at a meeting hosted by the Forsyth County Tea Party. Both are among 14 candidates – nine Republicans and five Democrats – who are hoping to replace Rep. Rob Woodall, who announced earlier this year he would not seek re-election for the seat he has held since 2011.
Gonsalves, a businessman and entrepreneur, referred to several topics as “black swans,” or a warning of something “not normal.” One of those black swans was the national debt, which Gonsalves said had grown from $6 trillion to $22 trillion since 2000, “almost a four-fold increase in 20 years.”
“There was a time when we Republicans were the party of fiscal discipline. We were the party of balanced budgets. We were the party of smaller government. We were the adults in the room willing to impose some restraints on the national credit card,” Gonsalves said. “What happened to those principles we once professed to be our own? We will soon leave for the next generation a Social Security and Medicare system headed directly toward bankruptcy.”
Other issues addressed by Gonsalves dealt with healthcare, such as holding drug companies responsible for their role in the opioid epidemic and allowing more transparency and competition in the industry.
“Americans are by far the world’s largest consumers of healthcare, yet no one in this room, no one, has any idea what the real cost is of a trip to the doctor or the tests our doctors order,” he said. “We don’t know the real cost of the prescription drugs we take. We don’t know the true cost of a hospital visit. Healthcare is the only thing we buy that we have absolutely no idea what it costs except with each passing year our health insurance premiums continue to rise.”
With immigration expected to be a big election topic next year, Tseng, a first-generation Cambodian refugee and co-founder of the Conservative Diversity Alliance, talked about her family’s experiences escaping genocide by the Khmer Rouge regime in the late 1970s.
“We spent one year in the United Nations refugee camp in Thailand, and then another in the Philippine U.S. Refugee Processing Center… then we were able to come into the United States,” Tseng said. “When we came here, we followed the legal process: waited in line, followed the process, took our citizenship test and became naturalized U.S. citizens.”
Tseng said she opposed “the push for socialism and communism into our country” and was in favor of securing the border, supporting veterans and preserving Social Security for seniors.
“Our seniors, we have to protect Social Security because the baby boomers put so much into this system, they need to be able to draw from Social Security when they retire,” Tseng said. “They’re retiring every day. We need to make sure they have access to it.”
Gonsalves and Tseng will be up against longtime state Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), former Home Depot executive Lynne Homrich, former Atlanta Falcons player Joe Profit, Air Force veteran Ben Bullock, physician Rich McCormick, former education executive Lerah Lee and former college professor Lisa Noel Babbage.
On the Democratic side, Carolyn Bourdeaux – who lost to Woodall in 2018 by less than 500 votes – is running again, along with other Democratic hopefuls in state Rep. Brenda Lopez Romero (D-99), activist Nabilah Islam, attorney Marqus Cole and former Fulton County Commission chairman John Eaves.
District 7 makes up the majority of Forsyth and Gwinnett counties.