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Forsyth County Tea Party hosts Republican candidates running in local, state elections
Tea Party
Forsyth County State Court Judge Candidate Rupal Vaishnav tells the crowd about his experience as a litigator and prosecutor during a Forsyth County Tea Party meeting on Monday, Feb. 28. - photo by Sabrina Kerns

Several Republican candidates planning to run in local and state elections spoke at the Forsyth County Tea Party’s most recent meeting on Monday, Feb. 28.

The speakers included 6th Congressional Candidate Mallory Staples, House District 28 Candidate Tim Short, Forsyth County Board of Education Candidate Mike Valdes and Forsyth County State Court Judge Candidate Rupal Vaishnav.

Close to 100 members attended the meeting to hear from the candidates and ask questions, including current legislators and politicians such as state Rep. Sheri Gilligan and Sen. Greg Dolezal.

Forsyth County Tea Party Chairman Bobby Donnelly introduced the candidates and each time to speak about themselves and their campaign before opening the floor to questions from Tea Party members.

Qualifying for state and local races began Monday, March 7 and runs through Friday, March 11.

Rupal Vaishnav

Vaishnav spoke to the crowd first, explaining why he believes his background and experience makes him the best fit for Forsyth County State Court Judge.

Current Forsyth County State Court Judge Leslie Abernathy-Maddox recently announced her intention to retire from the bench at the end of her term in 2022 after serving in the role since 2013. 

Vaishnav grew up on the south side of Atlanta after his family moved to the U.S. from India in 1979. He earned his undergraduate degree at the Georgia Institute of Technology before moving on to law school at the University of Georgia where he graduated in 1999.

Vaishnav began his career as a prosecutor and litigator in 2000 and moved up to serve as a senior Solicitor General for DeKalb County. Along the way, he said he also picked up civil law, representing counties, cities and police officers against “wrongful lawsuits” in federal and state court.

He moved to Forsyth County in 2008 and worked for Jarrard and Davis, the firm that represents the county, where he continued to practice civil law and handled Open Record Requests.

In 2010, he decided to also open his own private practice in the county to help represent local businesses and individuals. Along the way, Vaishnav became a certified mediator to help people find solutions to problems outside of court.

Vaishnav said he is happy to be running for the Forsyth County State Court Judge position where he believes his experience, attitude and mindset can help the community.

“This election is not as much about me, though I’ll be humbled and supported by your vote,” Vaishnav said. “It’s about what the county needs and what the county should do for its next judge. It’s very rare that citizens get to choose their judge.”

He said he has been called a strict constructionist by others in the past, a title he takes on with pride. His dedication to the written law is what he believes will give everyone “their fair day in court.”

“It’s my job to make sure I provide a forum that’s fair and that’s impartial to make sure people are heard and that we solve their disputes,” Vaishnav said.

Mike Valdes
Forsyth County Board of Education District 5 Candidate Mike Valdes. - photo by Sabrina Kerns

Mike Valdes

Valdes is a father of three with more than 20 years of experience in the business industry where he said he has managed large, complex budgets and teams.

Over the past year, Valdes has gotten more involved in local politics. He now serves as the chairman of Forsyth’s chapter of No Left Turn in Education, a national conservative organization fighting against Critical Race Theory in K-12 schools.

Critical Race Theory, or CRT, has been used by conservative groups across the nation in the past year as a catch-all term for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs and “divisive ideologies” in public school systems.

Valdes said he is proud to be running for the District 5 seat of the Forsyth County Board of Education, which was formerly District 2 and represents much of south Forsyth. The seat is currently held by incumbent Kristin Morrissey who has served on the board since 2011.

If elected, he said he would continue to fight against CRT within Forsyth County Schools.

“Morality is meant to be defined in the home,” Valdes said. “It’s not meant to be defined in the school system, and if I get elected to the Board of Education, that’s what I’m going to be about.”

He emphasized that he also wants to continue to fight for the removal of certain books containing what he called “pornography” in school media centers.

The district removed eight books earlier this year from all of its school media centers for “sexually explicit content,” but Valdes believes there is more work to do to make sure content within school libraries is appropriate for children.

While he said books containing sexual content are the main priority, he said other books by certain authors are also worth reviewing and potentially removing based on “negative” comments or “racist” views against white people.

If elected, Valdes said he plans to put more pressure on Dr. Jeff Bearden, the county’s superintendent.

“Now, I don’t mean to bash our superintendent,” Valdes said. “I think he’s done a good job in the time that he’s been here, but he’s also been at the helm as we’ve seen all of these harmful ideologies come in.”

While there may be some issues facing schools in the county right now, Valdes made it clear he believes FCS is an excellent school system.

“We are blessed to have our kids in the schools here,” Valdes said. “So …. despite the push of harmful ideologies and indoctrination coming straight from Washington into our local school systems, I love Forsyth County Schools and I want to keep them great.”

Tim Short
State House District 28 Candidate Tim Short. - photo by Sabrina Kerns

Tim Short

Short described himself as a lifelong Georgian and pharmacist. He has lived in Forsyth County for more than 40 years and owned a pharmacy in the area for more than 33 years.

He started working in a local pharmacy when he was 14 years old. Later, he served in the U.S. Army before attending the University of Georgia where he graduated in 1981.

Short has been involved in state politics through the Pharmacy Association of Georgia, heading to the Capitol with other pharmacy leaders to lobby for bills aimed to help his patients and the community.

If elected for Georgia House of Representative District 28, Short said he would use his experience to fight for constituents’ health care rights. He pointed out that just a few large companies have control over an individual’s health care.

“That needs to stop,” Short said.

Short explained that he is a conservative businessman at heart, describing himself as pro-life and a supporter of police officers and law enforcement agencies.

He also agreed with Valdes, emphasizing that children in Forsyth and in other counties are being “indoctrinated” through CRT in K-12 schools. He said he used to only see these issues in colleges, “but each year, it seems to creep down closer and closer.”

Overall, if elected, Short said he would fight for quality and affordable health care for constituents and find proactive ways to help support further growth in Forsyth County.

He pointed out that Forsyth will continue to grow in the coming years because it is a great place to live, work and raise a family. To support this growth, he said community leaders need to plan for it and find solutions that the people of Forsyth County can agree with.

“I would like to have the opportunity to serve you,” Short said. “This county has been good to me. I’ve made a really good living; I’ve raised my family here.”

Mallory Staples
6th Congressional Candidate Mallory Staples. - photo by Sabrina Kerns

Mallory Staples

Staples is a Georgia mother with a background in teaching, business and Christian ministry.

She owned and operated a small business for 17 years while homeschooling her children before eventually getting involved in a Christian women’s ministry. She has been involved in the ministry for eight years, helping to move it from a local to a national organization.

Staples describes herself as a regular, everyday mom who never thought would be involved in politics or running for political office.

A few years ago, she said she and her family started to see “massive changes” in the country that she did not believe served the American people. She said it started with social media and technology companies removing former U.S. President Donald J. Trump from their platforms.

She said she was shocked to see a company trying to “silence [the] voice” of the country’s president. She referenced unbacked claims of election fraud in the country and in the state of Georgia and the introduction of CRT into K-12 classrooms.

After seeing these issues surface, Staples said God called on her to do something. So she chose to run for the U.S. House District 6 seat being vacated by incumbent Lucy McBath.

U.S. House District 6 serves Forsyth and Dawson counties along with parts of Cherokee, Cobb, Fulton and Gwinnett.

“The degree to which you’re willing to sacrifice for something speaks to the value you place on that very thing,” Staples said. “And so for my children and for my country, there is no sacrifice that’s too great. And to serve my heavenly Father and do whatever he tells me to do, I’m all in.”

If elected, she said she will fight against these issues and serve her constituents’ needs.

She emphasized that the federal government has taken too much control of the lives of everyday people, and she believes 2022 is the year regular citizens will start taking up political office.

“Because the people have had enough,” Staples said.

To see a list of who qualified for state and local races, visit www.forsythnews.com.