District 27 state Sen. Greg Dolezal was elected to his seat by Forsyth County voters just over a year ago, but with the seat’s two-year term, the freshman lawmaker has already kicked off his campaign for 2020.
Dolezal, whose seat represents all of Forsyth except a small portion in the northwestern corner of the county, kicked off his re-election campaign with a fundraising dinner featuring many of the county’s elected officials and later told Forsyth County News he was running on “kitchen table issues” that affect the entire community.
“We’re going to continue to focus on healthcare, traffic, education and things that families spend time talking about every evening when they sit down at the kitchen table,” Dolezal said. “We began to move the needle on that in the first 40 days of the [term], but obviously we need more time to continue to bring some of that to fruition.”
Dolezal is vice chairman of the Senate’s science and technology committee and a member of the education and youth, government oversight, health and human services, reapportionment and redistricting committees.
In 2018, Dolezal defeated Democrat Steve Smith in the 2018 election, earning about 73 percent of the district’s votes. He said running as an incumbent this time means he has some experience with how the legislature works.
“As an incumbent, we now have influence with different areas of state government that I didn’t have before,” Dolezal said. “So, I’m able to work with GDOT on a weekly basis just to try to address some of the traffic issues in Forsyth County, just as an example. I obviously wasn’t able to do that as a candidate.”
Dolezal said some of the things he was most proud of in his first term were passing income tax cuts and a raise for teachers, which he planned to continue to pursue in 2020.
“This year, we’re looking forward to passing another income tax cut. The first income tax cut was kind of the first of two phases,” he said. “Then we’re also looking forward to fully funding education and looking towards the second phase of that teacher pay raise. We’ve done $3,000 of a promised $5,000 pay raise.”
Dolezal said he would also like to work creating a “Georgia-grown” education system that reduces “high-stakes testing” and eliminates federal requirements under Common Core.
He also wants to improve transparency in healthcare pricing and eliminate surprise billing, or when a patient receives care from a medical professional not in their insurance network often without knowing.
Dolezal also wants to find ways that technology can help with Forsyth County’s traffic woes.
“It’s a daily reality that we’re sitting in more traffic gridlock than we should,” Dolezal said. “So, we’re working on funding, we’re working on technology, we’re working on new roads, we’re looking to head towards autonomous vehicles and air taxis and really taking an all-of-the-above approach of, ‘How do we solve transportation?’”
Dolezal pointed out that Forsyth County has a lot of influence in the legislature, with former state Reps. Mark Hamilton and Mike Dudgeon, both of whom represented Forsyth, working respectively under Gov. Brian Kemp and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, who is also a Forsyth County resident.
“I had, and by proxy of me, all of Forsyth County has a direct line into the governor’s office and the lieutenant governor’s office,” he said. “As a freshman, I didn’t feel like a freshman. I had the lieutenant governor asking me to carry legislation, and that typically wouldn’t happen as a freshman.”
Currently, the only challenger to the seat is Democrat Brooke Griffiths, who announced her campaign this summer.