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Former state Senate budget director to challenge Woodall in District 7
Georgia State professor teaches public management and policy
Carolyn Bourdeaux
Carolyn Bourdeaux.

A Georgia State University professor and former state Senate budget director announced Thursday she intends to challenge four-term U.S. Congressman Rob Woodall for the Seventh Congressional District seat in the upcoming 2018 midterm election and has already received two endorsements.

Carolyn Bourdeaux, an associate professor of public management and policy at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at GSU, said she wants to bring a variety of topics to Washington D.C. and the U.S. House of Representatives, including education, economic development, security and transit but that “the most acute crisis is health care reform, which to me is a pocketbook issue and a moral issue.”

“I’m focused on connecting with the residents of Forsyth and Gwinnett counties to discuss how the policies of Rob Wodoall is voting for, like health care, are negatively impacting their lives,” she told the Forsyth County News. “Across the district, people, particularly seniors, are looking at dramatic insurance rate increases.”

District 7 spans south Forsyth to just north of Cumming and reaches down to Gwinnett in Sugar Hill, Lawrenceville, Norcross and Grayson.

Bourdeaux lives in Suwannee.

“I’ve spent my life in a variety of roles in the public sector, working with people of both parties to develop solutions that touch people’s lives – including as a teacher, policy advisory and budget director,” Bourdeaux said in a news release. “As with many families in Gwinnett and Forsyth counties, my family is struggling with the cost of health care. My parents are using every extra dollar they have to pay for my very ill father’s medications. The cost of his prescriptions has skyrocketed to the extent that my parents have hit their insurance cap for drug payments in July – where it used to happen in November.

“Why is this happening? One reason is that Congress has actively intervened to prevent Medicare from using its purchasing power to negotiate a better deal on drug prices.”

Bourdeaux enters a political atmosphere that has been considered a conservative stronghold in Georgia and that just to the west in north Atlanta’s District 6, Republican Karen Handel narrowly beat Jon Ossoff in a special election earlier this summer.

District 7 is one of the most diverse in the state, and Bourdeaux hopes to connect with families facing the rising costs of health care.

“I cannot understand why Congressman Woodall would vote for a bill that would mean 67,000 fewer people in this district would have health insurance, would discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions and would allow insurance companies to not cover basic health care services like emergency room care,” she said. “Not only are there more compassionate ways forward, there are more fiscally responsible ways forward.”

Congressman Hank Johnson, who represents Georgia Fourth Congressional District, has already endorsed Bourdeaux.

“Her perspective and her willingness to work hard toward reasonable solutions will serve our community well,” he said in the release.

Bourdeaux received degrees in history and economics from Yale University and served as a legislative aide to Senator Ron Wyden (Oregon), working on social policy, education and transportation.

She received a Ph.D. in public administration from Syracuse University, where she focused on public finance.

In 2003, Bourdeaux came to GSU and has worked on and written about tax policy, budgeting and economic development “as it relates to the Atlanta metro area, as well as Georgia.”

She took a leave of absence from GSU from 2007-10 to work as director of the Georgia Senate Budget and Evaluation Office. After leaving, she was honored with Senate Resolution 1598 for significant service to the state of Georgia.

Since returning to GSU, she has founded the Center for State and Local Finance, started a training program for state and local chief financial officers and chaired the national Association for Budgeting and Financial Management.

Andrew Young, the GSU school’s namesake, confidant to Martin Luther King Jr. and former mayor of Atlanta, said of Bourdeaux, “nothing is more important that finding the most meaningful use of each and every dollar of taxpayer money and how it can serve our citizens best. Dr. Bourdeaux has a lifetime of service advising and managing the budgets of our cities, state and nation.”

Woodall has faced a Democratic challenger in every election since he first ran for office in 2010 and has handily beat each, though 2016’s margin of 60.4 percent was the smallest yet.