With the 2020 election season in full swing and Forsyth County a target for both Republicans and Democrats, a candidate for Senate was in town this week to speak with local voters.
On Tuesday evening, Jon Ossoff spoke at a meeting of the Forsyth County Democratic Committee at Sharon Forks Library, where he laid out some of his goals if elected and took questions from the crowd.
Ossoff, whose name became nationally known due to his highly-publicized Congressional race against Karen Handel in 2017, is running against several other candidates for the Democratic nomination for the race against Sen. David Perdue, who has held the office since 2015.
He is a graduate of Georgetown University and the London School of Economics and has formerly worked under Reps. John Lewis and Hank Johnson.
Ossoff and other Democratic hopefuls, including former Mayor of Columbus Teresa Tomlinson and 2018 candidate for lieutenant governor Sarah Riggs Amico, will face off in the primary on May 19. The last day to register to vote for the primary is Monday, April 20.
Here’s what Ossoff had to say about the issues:
The Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, and expansion of Medicaid in Georgia have been polarizing between Republicans and Democrats, and Ossoff said he was in support of both.
“It is absolutely unconscionable that our state’s leadership has refused to expand Medicaid out of partisan malice … and they should have to pay a political price for that, and we have to organize the people of the state to impose that price,” Ossoff said. “We have to raise the awareness of the people of the state that they are not well-served by their leadership either state or federal right now.”
As both divisions between Republicans and Democrats in Washington continue to grow wider, Ossoff said he was open to working with colleagues across the aisle to support Georgia if elected.
“I’m not running to be a partisan warrior,” he said. “I’m not running to be a soldier for the Democratic party. If that’s what you want in your senator, I’m not your guy. I’m running to represent this state according to my conscience using the reason that I can summon with the evidence available. If that means I’m on the same side as folks who are in leadership positions in the Democratic Party, fine, and if it means I’m not, then fine.”
Asked by a member of the crowd about whether he supported adding term limits for senators, Ossoff said he believed campaign finance reform was “much more important than term limits.”
“In fact, I think term limits is sometimes a way of a politician seeming like they want to reform the system without actually reforming,” he said. “[The reason] incumbent members of Congress can be reelected over and over and over with such ease is because they have such an easy time raising money in D.C. from corporate PACs.
“The flip side of that is that some of the most effective legislators and public servants in our country’s history have served for a long period of time and developed the tenure, expertise and experience to do so. I don’t want to see John Lewis term-limited out in the 5th District; I want John Lewis to serve this state as long he can.”
Higher education pricing
A vocal issue heading into the 2020 election is college debt and the expense of higher education. Ossoff responded to a question from a high schooler about his thoughts on reducing those prices.
“I want us to get to a place where public college, state schools or trade school or vocational training are 100% debt-free,” Ossoff said. “I am not going to promise the moon and everything and say to folks that we can wave a magic wand and every higher-educational facility in the country is free. We have to be realistic. We have to set priorities. I believe that a reasonable place to get to is that if you want to attend a public college or university, you don’t have to take on a single penny of debt to do it.”
Presidential nominee prediction
With the primaries already rolling and Georgia’s March 24 presidential preference primary just a few weeks away, Ossoff was asked who he thought might secure the Democratic nomination and had a simple answer: “I don’t know.”
“I think anyone of these Democratic frontrunners could win in Georgia … If the last four years of American politics have taught me anything, it’s that I’m out of the prediction business, so I don’t have an answer for that question. I’m ready to run with the Democratic nominee and we’ll let the process play out.”