City of Peachtree Corners, Georgia residents, and leaders speak out about change and actively becoming a more anti-racist community.
This third episode of this mini-part series includes community activist and multimedia consultant Mo Reilley and activist Michael Murphy-McCarthy (Director of Information Technology and Information Management Systems at The North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church.) Join them along with Peachtree Corners Life podcast host Rico Figliolini and series co-host Karl Barham in this intensive discussion to try and solve these issues. Recorded socially safe online and in the City of Peachtree Corners, Georgia
[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:05:29] – Thoughts on the Protests
[00:09:57] – Why Now?
[00:12:07] – Can this Happen Everywhere?
[00:23:38] – Defunding
[00:34:59] – Racism in Schools
[00:43:25] – Zoning Issues
[00:53:34] – Having More Voices at the Table
[00:59:07] – Actionable Steps
[01:10:13] – Closing
“I don’t know what the ask is, but I believe that out of giving that, we can coalesce and come up with some specific actions that we want to ask the city to do. And this isn’t just about standing on the street. This is about affirming people, gathering voices, gathering more voices, starting to work together, trying to create some change.”Michael Murphy-McCarthy
Rico: [00:00:30] The serious issue that over the last month, two months almost, has taken to the streets of every city in the country. So, you know, we, Karl Barham and I have put together this series. Karl did a lot of the heavy lifting and all the work on this really, I’ve got to say of bringing the guests together. And, so Karl take it from here, introduce who we have today.
Karl: [00:00:56] Oh, absolutely. Well, this is our third installment of a discussion we thought was important to just show the people in local communities like Peachtree Corners here in Georgia can have conversations about social justice, racial justice. Talk about their experiences, talk about things they’ve seen in the community. Talk about ways that we can learn from each other, ways that we can improve the community, not just for ourselves, but for our children. As we go forward, back in May on the 26th of May, everyone has probably seen the video. George Floyd being killed by a police officer during an arrest. A couple of weeks later in June 12th, another 27 year old African American father was shot and killed by Atlanta police officer while he was responding to a complaint of a man being asleep in his car. Anyone could watch that and would agree, including the officer that that’s not the outcome we wanted to see, or they would hope that would happen. But if you think about it, we’re 30 days past the beginning of the black lives matters movement protests and various protests around the country. And we’re, the conversation has opened up, it’s hitting corporate America and businesses. It’s happening in churches. It’s happening in schools, it’s happening in households. And so today on Peachtree Corners Life, we invited some local residents and leaders in the community to start this discussion here. And if you’ve seen any of the first two episodes, you can go to Peachtree Corners Life to see some of those conversations. And today, I am honored and privileged to have two more local residents leaders, and members of the community just to continue that conversation. So people could see that we can talk about this. We can maybe offer some suggestions and opinions on how we feel about, how it impacts systemic racism and some of these things that help allow things like what’s happening in the police, in law enforcement, what’s happening with black people, how it’s impacting different areas. So I’m going to ask our guests, Mo Reilley, who is a resident and entrepreneur and a mother of several wonderful children to introduce herself first. And then I’ll introduce Michael.
Mo: [00:03:27] Hey everybody I’m Mo Reilley. You pretty much did my introduction for me. I’m from the Midwest originally. But we have been in Peachtree corners for over seven years. I guess we came shortly after it actually became a city, which is kind of cool. I have three boys. I have twin ten-year-olds and a four year old. I guess for the sake of this discussion, we could also mention that they are biracial. My fiance is black. He works in Tech Park, Atlanta Tech Park, even though this is Peachtree Corners. And, yeah, I’m excited to join the conversation with you guys.
Karl: [00:04:08] Excellent. Next up Michael Murphy-McCarthy, is also a resident. He is a local leader active in many civic pursuits. And I’d love for you to tell a little bit about yourself, Michael.
Michael: [00:04:24] I moved to Georgia in 1995 to go to grad school. And bought a house in the city and had a job downtown and was living the, the city life. And then my job moved out here to
Peachtree corners and my wife and I were debating what to do and we had a three year old. So we decided to just move up here to Peachtree Corners and had a nice short commute for a long time about, 14 years. And then my, employer decided to mess up my life and move the office back inside the Perimeter. But I’ve stayed here in Peachtree Corners and expect to stay here. So I’ve been here in Peachtree Corners now for, almost 18 years. So my son who’s 21, went up through the schools, graduated Norcross high school. And, so I’ve seen quite a bit of change in this area. I remember when the BP gas station, on 141, which is no longer there was like a major landmark. It was across from the CVS. Seems like a far distant past.
Karl: [00:05:29] Well, the city’s evolved quite a bit, since then, and it’s continuing to evolve. For one of the things that’s impacting all of our communities around the country is what’s happening with black lives matters and the protest. So I’m curious if I, if I wanted to start off with as we were in the middle of COVID-19 and all of the, the social distancing, what was your reaction when you saw George Floyd and the protest that came out of that that’s been going on for 10 years, but as that started to come alive again, what’s your reaction to what’s been going on, around both the racial injustice that’s being displayed and, and the protest. Maybe Michael, you could start?
Michael: [00:06:24] Well, since you brought up COVID, I’ve been social isolating since March. Haven’t actually worked out of my office since then. And, you know, has been a bit of adjustment since then. When George Floyd was killed. My reaction was not again. Because you know, there’s been Ahmaud Arbery, there’s just, you know, obviously a long list of black men who have been killed by the police, in the streets. And I usually don’t watch a lot of online video, but I watched the video of George Floyd and, I guess actually watching a video of it impacted me, pretty strongly. And I’ve in response I decided to break isolation for protests. It’s funny. I haven’t been to a grocery store or a restaurant anywhere, but I’m out on the streets regularly protesting now. Because I’m just angered and fed up by how people are being treated and that we have sanctioned killing of black men in the streets of America. And I find it completely unacceptable.
Karl: [00:07:41] Mo I’m wondering, you’ve got young black men you’re raising and I can imagine the impact that you might’ve felt.
Mo: [00:07:55] Yeah to Michael’s point, we hadn’t really been doing anything either. We’d been in the house. And of course, immediate rage took over myself and you know, basically all of my friends and anybody who saw the video that I’m connected with, it immediately took me back to what is that six years ago to Michael Brown in Ferguson. And when that happened, I just remember being like, we have to go there. I was just trying to figure out anyway to get involved. Can we go there? How do we, how do we help? How do we get involved? So with this, we did not go down to the protest the very first day. I remember it just like turning up and feeling that I wanted to go, okay, we have to go. We have to go. But on top of the COVID you could kind of see with everything that was already happening in Missouri and kind of in other big cities that everything was going to reach a fever pitch very quickly. So I made the personal decision. Okay,
we’re not going to go. We’re not going to take the boys. And they have gone to protests with me. We went to the abolish ice protest. They’ve been actively involved in things before. I knew this one was going to be just a little bit different. So I stayed home, but I immediately got involved the best way I could from the house. Making phone calls, watching the live streams, sending out resources, donating, connecting people with Atlanta solidarity in case there were arrests that were made. I did everything and have been doing everything I could from the house while also communicating why mommy is glued to her phone and why she’s on the computer so much and, you know, sharing a little bit with the boys what we feel is okay to share with them, and just navigating it that way on top of COVID. And that’s, that’s the other reason why, we chose not to go out as a family, you know, it was kind of multi-tiered.
Karl: [00:09:57] I’m wondering in your conversations with, you know, friends, family, what is it about this that triggered this, this wider spread awareness? we know that it’s happened before there over the last 10 years. But something hit, With people on this one, I’m wondering, what is it, do you think you’re hearing from people that you talk to that makes, makes them more aware and more angered by what they’re seeing?
Mo: [00:10:32] I think, you know, to Michael’s point really enough is enough. Because news and I’m not talking about mainstream media, but actual live news comes at you so quickly with Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. And with everybody being able to go live and catching it in real time. You’re not faced with the delay of it being shown on the news or the recap at 6:00 PM or 11:00 PM and oh, this happened earlier. You know, it was literally like this happened, there was already a crowd of people that crowd is growing. Boom. And there is nothing good about what happened, but to just use the phrase of a perfect storm. You know, with COVID more people were at home, more people, it was like a pause. Everybody’s awareness is already heightened and we’re kind of already tuned into what’s going on. We’re already looking at the news. We’re already checking social media and then bam. It was there. And to that point, you know, a lot of people are not at work right now. So there’s more people available to get involved, whether it be at the protests or online, or going to, you know, the meetings or being part of these zoom meetings and conversations. So I just think, you know, good, bad and indifferent in such a time as this and why not now? And now that it’s here, there’s no letting up.
Karl: [00:12:07] Is there an element of it that with Michael Brown and so many others, those were in you know, whether it’s New York, city, Baltimore, other places, cities where, you know, there’s going to be this intersection of law enforcement and others. And, and these things can happen because it’s not here. When you think of Minneapolis and Minneapolis, for those that have been there, has, an urban city area, but a lot of it is suburban. But if you’re not from there, you can think of the Midwest as pretty much laid back and seeing that this is repeating all over the country. Not just in the cities or in the coast, it’s happening in communities all over. Is there, is there an element of this that might be where, where people feel this could happen in their neighborhood? Can this happen in Gwinnett County and Fulton County and Alpharetta and Duluth in Peachtree corners. Is this something that, that you think can happen here? Not so
much because, the police force is a particular way, but just the systemic racism that allows that to happen, it can manifest itself anywhere in the country.
Mo: [00:13:24] Do you want to jump in Michael?
Michael: [00:13:27] You can talk again or I can jump in.
Mo: [00:13:34] Jump in.
Michael: [00:13:36] I, I’m not sure. You know, cause I’m thinking Minneapolis has a history of issues with the police. And so, you know, if you’ve been, yeah, so it’s on the one hand of all it’s, you know, nice thinking mid West. But on the other hand that you’ve been paying attention to Minneapolis, you know, that they’ve had a history of issues. I, I think in some ways it comes down to what Mo said about it being a perfect storm more than necessarily the incidents. But on the other hand, watching that video, I think there’s something about the fact that. There was just this kneeling for eight minutes and 46 seconds. That’s a long time to just very intentionally kneel on someone. It wasn’t a quick pull out the gun and shoot him three times in two seconds or, you know, as they’re running away. This was a very, very slow, deliberate act. And you know, he could’ve gotten up after four minutes. He could have gotten up after five minutes and he would have lived, but eight minutes and 46 seconds of slowly, deliberately killing him.
Karl: [00:14:53] With witnesses on camera and three other law enforcement officers present, that paints a very telling picture.
Mo: [00:15:04] Yeah. I just think, to your question about, you know, people wondering, can it happen here and is it possible, you know. Of course, because, there is a system in place where, as Michael said, you know, police brutality is sanctioned. We can’t act like law enforcement and the system of policing didn’t originate in slavery. All of the systems that are in place come from that time. And we’ve yet to address it. We’ve yet to disband it or abolish it or defund it or whatever words, you know, people are using whatever the mission is. So of course it can happen here because just a couple of weeks after George Floyd, it did happen here. Sure, it was over on university Avenue, but Rayshard Brooks was killed. Just you know, 20 minutes from where we live in Peachtree Corners. So it’s here. It might not be directly, you know, in this zip code and it might not be in Alpharetta, but you also have to think about, why is that? Well, you have to look at the demographics of the city. If your city is naturally segregated and it’s a higher white population, then is the possibility of police brutality or police killings less than, you know, in the inner city, the Metro city of Atlanta. Sure. Because that’s what statistics show us. You know, we, and we saw Major Kane come and give her presentation at the city council meeting. And I honestly was just left with more questions. So I have a list and you know, and I know you’ve reached out to some of them to have them on the show and, you know, she used there’s these buzz words, and she just kept saying, and we do this for transparency, and we do this for transparency and she kept saying it, and I’m thinking, so if you have an early identification review board, how many incidents involving use of four police officers happened
before the review? The example she gave, and I don’t know if it was actual statistic or if it was a flippant example, was that say if the, early identification review board is looking at everything annually. And this officer happens to have used force 10 times an alarm goes off or a bell rings and then, you know, that person is placed for review. So we’re waiting an entire 12 year period or whatever their reporting period is. And allowing this one officer to have 10 instances of use of force before we’re reviewing them. How does that work? What outside agency is reviewing the use of force reports, because Gwinnett County police department, Atlanta police department, wherever you are, they cannot police themselves. You simply can’t. And she kept talking about, you know, how these reports happen and how things are sent up the chain of command. How do I know your chain of command is not corrupt? And if it’s a bunch of white cops reviewing their buddies what’s, what’s being missed in between? And I’m just, so I have a lot of curiosity and questions about the use of force reports, how they’re reviewed when they’re made public, what action is taken with the officer after they’ve been pinged, you know, a multitude of times for use of force. What is happening? And she was saying there’s transparency. But I’ve Googled. I don’t and if I don’t know what to look for or where to look, that’s not transparent. You’re telling me the information is there, but if you’re not telling me, Hey, you can go on the Gwinnett County police department and click on this link. And this is going to show you, which of our officers were disciplined or fired or looked into for their use of force. You’re not being transparent. We have no idea who’s policing us.
Karl: [00:19:33] That’s very interesting. As you mentioned that specific event example, because that’s often how systemic racism, is sometimes not seen or addressed. Because if the system is set up in a way where, those reviews or, or third party accountability isn’t happening. It’s easy for folks and it’s a tough decision for many of my friends in law enforcement. There was a, a brotherhood that exists and they’re doing a very hard, dangerous job for protecting us. Their, their job very often they work late, they work hard. but if there are individuals that in a particular instance, Is doing something that doesn’t fit the values of the, of the police department stepping in, deescalating, helping, you know, my brother’s keeper, helping the other ones stay within the values that they’re, that they strive for. If there isn’t a culture that’s that’s okay. Say, look, you know what you got, you’re getting out of hand or if someone else is seeing something, they don’t say something to get the person, whether it’s mental health, counseling, coaching, retraining, all of these different tools that are available. Someone’s got to be there. That can be that objective person that’s looking at it. So I don’t know if there’s a citizen review board for our…
Rico: [00:21:09] Not in Gwinnett County. But you bring up a good point though, Karl. The, and it is a police culture because I mean, if you’re looking at the Atlanta police force, they could 58 or 60% black African Americans on the police force. It’s majority minority on the police force and yet they still have issues, right? So it is a cultural thing within the police force where they’re protecting themselves. This is what unions do. Also, if it’s union honest and protect themselves, we’ve been through this discussion where, you know, they’ll negotiate salaries and stuff, and maybe even bring back police officers that are not, that were suspended at one point let’s say. Or quite frankly I know, for example, Gwinnett County police trains quite a few police in their Academy, they have a great Academy. They train them well, I believe. But after a year or two,
these guys, they leave and they join other city police forces. And then you get, and I’ve seen it because I’ve had some friends from New York, New Jersey, the Northern States. Where they retire and then they come down and then become police officers in more rural towns. So, you know, and they’re used to doing things a certain way. Maybe that culture is, you know, coming here. I mean, it’s, I don’t think a police force does any different from, from one place to another as much, because, because of what you said too Karl, they face a lot of, there’s crime in the streets. I mean, there’s things that are bad. They can get killed. They’ve been targeted for assassination themselves even. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have, we shouldn’t have respect for each other, that the police force is not there as a violent tool of government, that it’s there to keep everyone safe and, you know, and we just have to, I think we have to see how we get past where we are. So then we can, we can, I don’t know. I don’t say personal dismantling. I don’t know. I don’t know how Mo and Michael feel about dismantling. I think changing and maybe actually dismantling is the word defunding, right? Dismantling it. I guess if we’re going to use words like that as what you want to do, you want to remove the parts that need to do the police duties way from the parts that don’t need police to be doing that, right? You don’t need it.
Karl: [00:23:38] There’s always rhetoric. Like Rico, you’re mentioning these terms of defunding, dismantling the police force. There’s an element of it that’s political rhetoric that folks will do and play in that arena. Well, let’s just keep it simple. What do you think is meant by changing the police force, whether it’s to defunding or dismantling. What do you, what do you think people are asking for there? I’m curious your opinion on that.
Rico: [00:24:07] My opinion? Or let’s go to Mo maybe.
Mo: [00:24:13] Well, it means what it says. I think, especially now with, policy budgets and everything being looked at in most of the major cities. There is no city right now that should be having an increase of funding going to their police force. I’m looking at the numbers last year, right? Gwinnett County police department responded to 516,570 calls. Over a half a million police calls. Do they have a tough job? Yes. We also have to look at what community issues are happening and what is happening in people’s brains, that they are calling the police 516,000 times instead of in many instances. Talking to your neighbor, talking to the person that you’re saying is acting suspicious or ignoring it. That’s an option too, depending on what it is that you’re seeing and what it is that you’re calling the police for. And so, you know, Major Kane, did say that they have, some nonprofits and some organizations on standby that they can call if somebody is having a mental break or having an episode. And the goal is not always necessarily to take people to jail. But I know that if you go very, very baseline and scale, we’re talking about way down, starting at like my kid’s age and start looking at, the inequality and inequity in the school system. That’s where things start. So you start going through these systems and it’s like, okay, well, where else could that money be going instead of shoveling it into the police systems. And allowing them to have more riot gear when we don’t have enough PPE for the hospitals and the facilities that are handling COVID. Things are not balanced. So the defunding conversation has to happen because I’m not understanding why medical
programs, community outreach programs, educational programs, and all of these things are being cut and people can understand what defund that means. But when we started talking about defund police, people are like, I don’t get it. I don’t understand. Yes, you do. But maybe it’s scary or maybe you don’t understand. And there are websites and there is literature out there to help people understand, but you have to take a huge chunk of this money and redistribute it over here so that we can start seeing a balance happen in our communities and in the systems that are in place.
Rico: [00:27:14] Wouldn’t it be better if, I remember there was a zero budget thing done there Reagan’s time. I’m not saying that that would be it, but you know, you start from a budget of zero. What do you need to accomplish the thing that you need to do? Right? Policing break-ins, murder, robberies, whatever it takes, money police force. Wouldn’t it be better. Because just, you know, I think it was a, was it the Blasio? I think, but just the other day I said, we’re going to take a billion dollars from the police. We’re going to move it somewhere else. That sounds easy. That’s a lot of money. What would the using a billion dollars for it to begin with then, that he could easily take that away. And still do what the police is supposed to be doing at least on a minimal basis, right? Because how does that work? I mean, I don’t know. I’m bringing up some more questions cause I don’t think it’s as easy as moving money around because if it was that easy. It’s definitely a cultural thing. It can’t just be that, but I do agree with you Mo and I’ve always felt that education from Pre-Kindergarten or from taking care of our kids because they all start innocent. No one is born a racist, they all start innocent. If we could just bring them up the right way with the right mentors, then I think we’d have a better world, but I agree with you there for sure. And it’s hard work. It’s not going to be easy. It’s really hard work doing that.
Michael: [00:28:52] One of the things that I think about when I hear defund police is it’s terrible marketing. People just have a viscerally bad reaction to defund the police. Yes, we, we defund education. We defund healthcare all the time, but we don’t even talk about it in that language because people wouldn’t, you know, that language to do those things would not be acceptable either. And I, I do think that we have, a priority issue here with what we do with our money. And that, you know, reevaluating how much we’re spending on policing and healthcare and all these things are a big piece of it. Cause we we’ve created. a society where we spend more money on militarizing the police and on sticks and on punishment and on the prison pipeline and, on weapons than we do on creating a caring community where we actually take care of each other. And, and if we created, if we put our money into education and health care and building better community, we wouldn’t be locking people up in the same way that we are.
Karl: [00:30:15] I think you’re, you’re that that’s a really good insight you’re sharing because I could see someone listening to the conversation and hearing defund police. And immediately I used to remember a description, the wall comes up and says, you’re saying make me less safe. And, and I don’t think that’s what you’re saying. So there’s a nuance to listening to, to this movement, to this statement around defund police. But let’s say there was a billion dollars out there that could be moved to other places. If you replace defund police with, address racial injustice, let’s take a billion dollars and put the smart people in government universities, elected
officials and give them a billion dollars and say, look, let’s start with one system at a time. Criminal justice. Let’s look at the data. Let’s look at who, who gets pulled over. What specific actions, different behaviors can drive different outcomes when you pull somebody over. If, if someone is sleeping in their car in a Wendy’s drive through and you get the call and whatever the circumstances are, there’s an awareness that the outcome of that should be someone get an Uber. So let’s take some of that billion dollars and let’s give everybody an Uber credit card where you could send people home that needs to be sent home when there’s no immediate threat to life and so on. If you look in the education system, there’s, there’s many statistics out there that show people of color get, higher disciplines. They get less access. So that’s happening and it’s, I don’t know that any single individual is intentionally doing that. Let’s take some of that billion dollars and let’s figure out why that’s happening and put systems and things in place to help decrease that. If you go to the healthcare system, COVID-19 exposed, who gets impacted? We can’t get the right people if you’re frontline workers, that’s giving us groceries, can’t have, family leave if they get sick, they can’t afford to get sick. Even though they’re providing the service, let’s take some of the billion dollars and do that. But I think there is the part of this where you look at the systemic nature of what’s going on and people’s response. And if you could, I think you said it right, Michael, market that make that sound interesting. Make that sound a more just society. Sound like something people would want to do. I think people could understand with a constraint budget that maybe some of those funds could be better used in these other areas, especially if it brings about a more just society where people can be more evenly or equitably, responded to, or their needs being met. Food for thought.
Rico: [00:33:17] In a, in a utopian society. We’d all be equal, right? We’d all have the same income. We’d all have the same pleasures, same life. We’d be enjoying life. We wouldn’t be worried about all these other things, right? Politicians keep coming back to us and they tell us, well, if we do universal basic income where everyone has at least a minimum income, we should be all firing. We’re in, you know, I’m Italian heritage, born first generation American. I saw my father work for 18 hour shifts and stuff to, to build a business, to do, do what you hear immigrants do all the time, right? But we’re all tribal too, in a way, right? We all like to be among ourselves sometimes. Now that’s been changing. I know from my generation, for example, I wanted to be Americanized. I learned the language, and became American right? My kids, second generation American don’t even know how to speak Italian. I know how to speak it a little bit. My cousin will slap me around a little bit because bad grammar maybe but, you know, but would be that they assimilate, right? My kids, you know, Mo. You’re married to an African American, right? My kid’s going out with an Asian American. You know, I went out with, Hispanic girls when I was in Brooklyn. I mean, we grew up different, right. We have different, but not everyone’s like that. So it’s a cultural thing. That’s going to take generations to change. Maybe this is the beginning. Cause that eight minute, eight plus minute is just, I mean, it’s wrong. I mean, anyone that looks at it that has got to be sad about it.
Karl: [00:34:59] Here’s an interesting thought around that line. And I, and I look at growing up watching and being taught about racism from, from my family, my dad, and so on. There was always, he would always talk about the individual racism. Someone comes up to you and treats
you badly and, you know, be aware of that, you know, it could be dangerous or these things, some people’s hearts are that way. Don’t know that we could change that rapidly. There’s only a few things that can change people’s hearts and they may be better served finding it through, through their pastors. And other means to do that. But, but this, this systemic one is the one that my dad would tell me about and that’s the one that I think, today people have an opportunity to impact that. So I would say I’m not terribly concerned of the individual racism, that people have in their hearts. That exists. It’s a problem. We want that to change. But it’s been interesting. if you take, education, if you apply to an Ivy league school like Harvard they’re there, everyone is not on a level playing field and getting into a school like Harvard, there’s going to be challenges and people talk about affirmative action and all these different things. But I know for a fact that most schools have legacy programs. That means if your parents went to the school, it gives you a leg up to get into school. That sounds like a form of affirmative action. If someone now, if everyone didn’t historically have the same opportunity to go to all these schools, that’s built in systemic racism, playing out in a way that’s hidden, but it’s commonly acceptable.
Rico: [00:36:44] Do you know where that came from though Karl? That came from the thirties and twenties, where there were too many Jewish people entering those colleges and they decided to create a legacy program to stemie that.
Karl: [00:36:57] So, right. So what if you break the chain? Right? So there’s a lot of things. I mean, monuments are coming down. Things are changing. But I don’t know, I’m not particularly focused on any particular one thing, I just know that if people want to impact change, They can look at and search for these evidence and examples of systemic racism in their workplace, in their church, in the schools, in any part of society and take the beautiful talents that people have. Leadership, business leaders out there, individual leaders get involved and pull together that coalition that could change it, if you see it’s unjust. You know, folks can influence and change policies if that’s what they want to do to help everybody. If you want to help people of color, you know, changing hearts is great, but I can tell you there’s a, there’s a very specific action that could be done to change systems. Break the chains that these systems have that could be holding people back.
Mo: [00:38:05] I think, just to your point about education, because things sometimes seem very grand or distant when we talk about colleges and, and things like that. So just to bring it back to Peachtree Corners, right. Gwinnett County is a bubble outside of Metro Atlanta, Forsyth down there. You know, you come up here sometimes you don’t even know what’s going on in the city. Peachtree Corners is its bubble. And then inside there, you have its own little bubbles. Because when you look at Simpson elementary and Peachtree elementary, you can very clearly see between them, Berkeley Lake and some of the other schools that we are still very much segregated in our community. Our community is segregated. There’s no way to get around that. And I don’t know if that we’re still falling victim to redlining that happened 60, 70, 80 years ago, or sooner than that. Or if it’s just been, yes, it started with redlining and segregationist policies, and then people just got comfortable. Simpson elementary is over 70% white. How, how is that even possible? And how are the parents who are sending their kids to Simpson oblivious to that,
or not aware or not cognizant of. What’s happening in our community. It’s 70% white and only 7% black. And speaking to the disciplinarian and the school to prison pipeline. As far as suspensions and disciplinary actions, the white students make up less than 1%. Black students it’s over 4%. So there’s less black kids in your school. And yet here we are seeing that they’re suspended and disciplined more then the white students who are the majority. My kids go to Peachtree before COVID, anyway, we don’t know what we’re doing now. Who knows? So Peachtree is 40% black, 40 ish percent Hispanic, Latinex, and then 10% white. So it’s still an issue, right? We’re still segregated. We’re just on the completely opposite side. Everybody feeds into Pinckneyville. All of these surrounding schools. That’s the middle school. That’s where all of our kids are going. When you get up to the middle school level, things start to balance out. You’re about 30, 32, 33% white. Same for black. Same for Hispanic, Latinex. White students equal 3% or lower of suspension and disciplinary actions and black students are suspended at a rate of 14% or higher. Are you telling me somehow that black kids are, they’re acting out more, they’re fighting more, something is happening? No, the system is built against them from the very beginning. And so when you talk about people being community leaders and making effective change and making a difference in what to do moving forward, you don’t have to be an elected official. You don’t have to be a business owner in the community. You don’t have to serve on the board. You have to just look outside your front door. Holcomb bridge is literally like the proverbial railroad tracks. It’s what it is. And it’s been that way. And it’s why my kids and most of their friends are over here. And you have all of these other kids that are in Amberfield and Simpsonwood and all these other neighborhoods. And we are not even really considering buying a house over there because one, if my kids have to transfer to Simpson, they’re going to be the only black kids in their class. Almost guaranteed. My fiance, who’s the big black guy with dreads, when he wears a hoodie or he’s out wanting to jog in one of those neighborhoods or he’s out hanging out, is he going to be able to be comfortable knowing that none of his neighbors are gonna call the police on him? No. Our community is segregated and people have to take that into consideration. It’s not a far off thing. It’s not happening just in Atlanta. It’s not happening just in Detroit where I moved here from, that’s not the case. It’s here, it’s at our front steps. So if people actually want to affect change, you literally have to look at your cul-de-sac. Why does it look like this? And how can we change it? And that’s where it starts.
Rico: [00:43:25] Can I jump in a second? Because I agree to some extent for what you’re saying, racism is like Karl said individual, right. And Simpson is majority white and because of the way, just to play the other side of that, right. It’s majority white because the area is majority white, that, that feeds into. The homes are a certain price level because that’s the nature of these homes. You’re not going to make them any cheaper. This is the way the neighborhood is. If you can afford to live here. I haven’t seen in my, since 95, I’ve seen plenty of people come and go. I don’t see, and I’ve, I I’m familiar with red lightening and worked for Chuck Schumer for a year through a constituent work and I worked with the democratic party in Brooklyn, so I’m familiar with that. I don’t see that here. At least not now. Was it here 20 years ago? I have no idea. But I don’t see that now. I see, what I see is it’s an economic, it’s almost like a class thing versus racial thing on that aspect of it. Right? More expensive homes. You have to have the income to come here to buy. I mean, my son can’t move here. He’s going to have to buy a
condo somewhere where it’s cheaper because he can’t afford it. And that’s fine because he’s a younger guy, he’s twenty-four years old, right, so.
Karl: [00:44:48] But Rico, if I could, if I could build on that a little bit. So if you peel that back, we do, and you worked on the zoning and zoning when we make multi-year strategic plans and there’s a dynamic here that there are expensive homes here and others. The millennials and many of the folks that are looking at downsizing, retiring needs a place to live. Building, affordable housing and communities by design, by construct is a way to do that. Now this isn’t new other cities have done it. People are evolving it and you can look around the country and get best practices. But it takes will. It takes, this is important to us, so that in different community that have that dynamic historically, we can’t change the past. The next housing we build, they’re building townhouses across the street next to the town center. Those houses could be different. They could be a half million dollar town home. They could be more affordable townhomes, which would change the demographic that’s there that now are the only ones that are working in grocery stores. And so people could afford.
Rico: [00:46:00] Okay so.
Michael: [00:46:01] Can I jump in?
Rico: [00:46:02] Karl, I’m sorry, just to add one more, one more thing to that. Those townhouses are on inexpensive property. They’re going to be whatever the market value is there. You’re right. Unless it’s rezoned and you force a subsidy, there are ways to do that. I used to be on the planning commission too so I understand that. There’s 165 apartments that supposed to be built right on, right next to town center. You know that, right? So that’s affordable housing for sure to a degree. Now I wish they were condos and not apartments because that’s where at least it’s ownership, right? And reasonably priced condos, not like a ridiculous price. Those I can see, and they should have been something, that could have been a great way to do that. But it’s not.
Karl: [00:46:45] So Michael, you’ve got perspective here being here for awhile, please, please share.
Michael: [00:46:57] I’m very concerned about what’s happening in Peachtree Corners and like, Karl, I think one of the things you said when you reached out to me was that not a whole lot is being said here and, by the city leadership. And I’m going to get around to the housing and school thing. I got a slightly long story here. My, what, what struck me in the last few weeks is that, you know, frequently people after shootings and things say, you know, there’s lots of thoughts and prayers and stuff, but we’ve actually gone through a period of time where we’ve not even had that where our mayor said, it’s better not to say anything. And it’s better just to listen. If you want to be our mayor, you ought to speak up and say something. You ought to be talking to the people who are feeling oppressed. You ought to be educating yourself on why people are out on the streets protesting. That it’s not okay to just sit back and go, I’m a white guy, I’m not afraid of the police, I don’t know what you’re feeling. The, the opt, I got a slightly
different thing out of the police presentation at city council. I love those, review of it, but what I got out of it is okay, so, what do you do when you don’t know what to do? You bring in the police to talk about why they’re already doing things correctly? When a lot of us don’t, you know, have a lot of concerns and questions about how are things being done, but what does our city council do? Bring the police in to talk about, don’t worry, we’re already doing it okay. And then you follow that up with a presentation on why the South side of the city, where the minorities live, where the poor communities are, why they’re blighted and why we have to dissolve them so we can tax them because they’re blighted. We’re not going to tax the whole city. We’re not going to tax the white parts of the city. We’re not going to tax the wealthy parts of the city. We’re going to tax the blighted parts of the community through redevelopment zones. I don’t think that was good, wait, Rico, let me talk. I don’t think that was good optics for the meeting that their first public meeting, after all this hits is to have the police come in and to say, we’re doing it okay. And then to follow it up immediately with the presentation on the blighted south side? Give me a break. That ain’t right. To get around to Simpson and what’s going on on the North side, I happen to be living in that zone. I, as I mentioned, my job moved up here, I moved out here. I bought a house here, so I could have a really short commute, literally on a bad day to work I see 6 cars. That’s how short my commute was. I frequently saw more deer than cars on the way to work. And what struck me and disturbed me after I moved here was the fact that my neighbors were proud that nobody in apartments went to the same school that my son went to. They were proud that it was mostly white. They wanted to keep it white. They wanted to keep the townhomes and the apartments out of the area. When you go out to the forum to the new town center, why did the city buy that land? To keep apartments out of the Simpson elementary school. They could have bought, built their town center somewhere else. They build it across from the forum to protect the home values of the people who send their kids to Simpson elementary. Okay, that’s my rant.
Rico: [00:50:56] Alright. Can I, can I, do you mind? One is I ended the, just to clarify the facts, Michael, the CID or the tax Haven part, the taxing part, it’s a self taxing district to the businesses that are in the district that want to spend their money there.
Michael: [00:51:16] I’m not talking about the CID.
Rico: [00:51:19] Then what are you talking about? That’s the overlay that they were talking about. I think, if I remember correct.
Michael: [00:51:24] I’ve gone to some of the evening planning meetings and I’m not sure of all the exact details, but they are talking about creating redevelopment zones in blighted areas. That’s a completely separate issue than the CID.
Rico: [00:51:39] Right. But I believe it has, the component with self taxing district that they would allow them to be able to tax themselves, which is what, you know West Gwinnet or whatever, West village, whatever they do. But I, you know, there’s another facet of it. But the apartments across the way that was, that’s the town centers, I’ll tell you that there was a lawsuit at the very
beginning back when Charlie Roberts had that property. Way back when the people were saying, he actually said, actually the lawsuit was brought to say that they would try to block his rezoning there because of racism. So that goes back. I don’t know, 20 odd years ago or something.
Michael: [00:52:24] Rico, I understand you’re going over facts and a little history and maybe I mean slightly more nuanced interpretation, but I fundamentally believe that our city has structural racism in it. And what you are doing by talking about the facts in such a manner is to defend, possibly, that what I’m trying to point out is we have issues here that we need to deal with. And I thought that was the point of the conversation here.
Rico: [00:52:49] Yeah, that is. I’m not defending them what I’m trying to put out is facts. So I, at least, well, let’s deal with the facts. We want to deal with the facts of, of everything. So let’s deal with the facts though. That’s all I’m saying. There are 165 apartments that are going across there by the way, is my point. So they’re are apartments going there. There may not be the 300 apartments originally that was supposed to go. But when Charlie Roberts sold that to get there, to be able to put his 165, which by the way, he was zoned to do, he could have kept the property and done the 300 apartments there. He decided to sell part of it. That’s part of that issue by the way, just to keep things straight, but there will be apartments there that are about 160 units.
Karl: [00:53:34] I’m curious Rico though, as, if, if you stepped back from, from the particular actions that any city takes, bridges and town centers and apartments and more, the question is who are the stakeholders that are being impacted by those decisions? And we can, we can reasonably say there are people of all ethnicities, all socioeconomics and in a city the size of Peachtree Corners or any local city. But the people making the decisions, the people that are influencing those decisions, I’m just curious how diverse that is. Concerning, considering when a decision is made like that, are the voices being heard and being represented that could influence because if you bring in a different perspective, the same decision may be decided on. That, that’s not the question. The question is if only a few folks can make the decision and admittedly, whether the mayor or other people may have a particular point of view, that may differ from others, there’s a blind spot. So when you start talking about systemic community leadership, I’m curious, what, what is the role of community leaders, residents, in making sure that these big decisions that may impact the community that has systemic racism built into it, are they getting information? I think they are really smart people that run, that run the city and other places. My question is, are they getting the information they need to understand the impact of the decisions they’re making on various people. And if the answer is yes, if they’re getting counsel and guidance from all parts of Peachtree Corners, whatever side of Holcomb bridge, whatever school, the parents, if they’re getting that and you can’t just say, we asked for it and we didn’t get it. If folks are shut out from the system, at some point they stopped talking. But if you really want to pull those voices in, that’s part of what people can do. Stepping up, whether run for office, whether they’re get involved in, in local, in local matters or outreach on the other side. There, there, I remembered, a mentor of mine, he, he gave us a really interesting
challenge with leadership team. I, I worked for an organization that was in an industry that was mostly male dominated, aerospace. If you go and you look at any aerospace company, there’s going to be mostly men dominating in there. And I remembered, he challenged, everybody on his staff to improve the recruiting, onboarding development and promotion of women in the aerospace industry. And so we had a very specific task. We had to go out to organizations and build relationships so we can identify engineering talents and management talents, sales talents, and find ways to bring them in. That was literally on our goals. We got paid and compensated based on how we perform them in particular way. Now, I didn’t argue with it. If he said, that’s what you had to go do, but was it the right thing to do? He was thinking of something larger then just making a particular number, but here’s the funny thing. And I measured it. When we hired women in sales and in aerospace, they often outperform men. Who knew? You wouldn’t know that, but he had an insight. He challenged us to change. He challenged us to bring, make us uncomfortable and bring other people to the conversation. So in community leadership, it’s going to be uncomfortable for folks to start to engage in real ways, challenge themselves to get different voices. But if you’re a person that doesn’t feel you understand someone else, someone else’s culture, somebody else’s experience in life, and you have a title, self appointed or, or not. A leader or member of the community. The challenge to you is what are you going to do to change that? And that’s, I think, you know, the optics of, of, of a particular meeting. If you, one resident saw the meeting in that way. The question is, did others? And it happened, but do you learn from it or do we show up at a meeting two months from now and it’s the same thing? There’s no learning that happens. I don’t know the answer to that, but I think this is a time where folks are really starting to examine their biases and their blind spots. And I’m just curious to see, you know, does this continue beyond this moment in time? And it leads to action and change. That’s what’s going to be interesting to see. So I’m curious on, what, what advice would you give to folks and just taken from your perspective, people can do to get, more active, aware and involved whether individual or community leader. And Michael, I know you’ve been organizing some, some protests and activities, but, maybe you could share some of the things that, that people can get involved with locally.
Michael: [00:59:07] So we started, I mentioned I started going to protests, and I’ve actually avoided the big ones in the city. I’ve been more focused on local. I know it’s an old phrase, but all politics is local. So I’ve gone to the two Peachtree Corners ones that were organized by our youth. Great events. And, I’ve been, after chatting with some friends and deciding that we could go out and do this, decided to, just go out along Peachtree Parkway periodically in support of black lives matter and have been, slowly growing that event. We had our biggest turnout this morning. We’ve decided to do weeklies from 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM down just North of Holcomb bridge. And I’m hoping more people will turn out. We, we have a revolving group of people and in order to do a weekly, that’s what we need. So if you can come, great. Part of it is to show our support of black lives matter and show support for people who are coming and protesting with us and the people driving by. We’ve had people, you know, pull over, get out of the car and scream I love you to us, and get back in the car and take off. And we, we it’s been, it’s clearly affirmative to the people who are driving by. And I know that’s not gonna create the structural change that we need and necessarily deal with the structural racism here in Peachtree Corners.
But I think it’s important that we get our voice out there and we let people know that there are people, other people in the community who, support black lives matter and support creating change in the community. And another side thing that I’ve seen, that’s a huge benefit from this is that I believe that there’s a bunch of us who are in our own little grassroots gardens. Like there’s a group of us up here in North Peachtree Corners who are organizing around HD95 and helping to get, some political, we’re supposed to be nonpartisan here, so I’ll just say political candidates, elected or reelected. And, you know, we’re trying to organize. And one of the things we’re very clear is our garden is too small. We’re in a bubble. You know, Mo referenced bubbles, and the bubbles in the different part of the city need to connect for the garden, I’ve been using the garden analogy. We need to connect our gardens, and reach out so that we can become more effective. And, I don’t know what the ask is, but I believe that out of giving that we need to come to, we can coalesce and come up with some specific actions that we want to ask the city to do. And this isn’t just about standing on the street. This is about affirming people, gathering voices, gathering more voices, starting to work together, trying to create some change.
Karl: [01:02:01] Thank you. Mo, I’m curious to get your thoughts.
Mo: [01:02:09] On how to move forward and make the world a better place?
Karl: [01:02:14] If you got that one, I’d think you’d be quite wealthy. But we could start with what little small, innocent folks that live in their homes and in their communities can do.
Mo: [01:02:28] Well, I hope people in our community watch these conversations that you guys have been hosting. And then continue having the conversations. Recognize that there’s an issue and choose to take action. I think part of the reason why things have been the way they have for so long is because of the people that benefit from the system. So, you know, we’ve talked about why certain people have not agreed to come on the show and it’s either, if you support black lives or equity in education or any of these things say that. And if you don’t support it, say that, or I’ll be left to assume that your silence leans in that direction. So I think that’s first and foremost, recognizing that there are some serious issues in Peachtree Corners with diversity, inequality, inequity, and it starts from Pre-K up. It starts from the way the lines are drawn for the zoning, for the school boards, it starts with the fact that, you know yes, we have a beautiful town center and yes, there’s new townhouses, but when the townhouses costs 400, 500, 600, $700,000, certain people are being kept out of the community. Yes. Apartment buildings are being built, but are they affordable apartments or are they luxury apartments that start at 1200, 1500 for a one bedroom. And so the people who are serving our community, that work at Sprouts that work at Wendy’s that work at Cool Runnings, the Jamaican restaurant that work at J Alexander, they work at all these places, but they can not live in our community, right? All of these things, people have to open their eyes become aware and then take action to change that. It starts at home. You have to talk to your kids about why there’s no black kids in their school. And do you want that to change? Do you want them to have a diverse group of kids that they’re playing with on the playground? What are the actionable steps there? When we return to the school and you start ignoring COVID and the protests go away, you can’t just close
your eyes and become blind to the situation that’s happening. So beyond that, I’m part of a couple mom groups in the neighborhood, and I know folks love to do book clubs. So there’s plenty of literature on the subject. I would encourage white people to do anti-racism work. There are books, you can get. Me a White Supremacy, White Fragility, you can look up, Rachel Cargill, the Great Unlearn, Brittany Packnett Cunningham, Laila F. Sod. These are all people that you can Google. You can find them on social media. There’s tons of resources that go beyond us having this conversation. If you actually want to effect change within yourself first with your kids, with their school, and then out into the community.
Karl: [01:05:55] That’s really, really helpful to hear some of those, cause these things start individually, and people could build it and expand out from that. Rico, I’m curious if you’ve got any, any thoughts on, as you’ve heard this discussion, this is our third, our third one in this. And the purpose is to start the dialogue, but any takeaways and things that you think might really help folks as they go through their own journeys?
Rico: [01:06:25] Well, Mo, thank you for the list of reading. Number one that does help and some of those books are, are on my list as well, so to, to read. But you know, it’s a good way. And Michael, I didn’t mean to get on you, but it’s good to have this tough conversation, right? And it’s good to point out different things in it. And Karl and I had at one point said, why don’t we just get, you know, maybe you get, get three white people on to just talk about from their perspective that they used to think, and maybe that they changed their minds and their thinking different, you know, it’s hard to change people’s minds. I think, you know, And there’s different things that you can affect. I think. You know, listen, the Simpson elementary school being majority white, again, I think that’s just, you know, I don’t want to re-go through that, but some things are the way they are, because that’s the lines and stuff. That’s not necessarily, that school’s been there for so long that this Peachtree Corners has grown out and it’s, can’t even accommodate the kids at one point that it could accommodate. So from within this circle, if you want to call it a bubble of a Pinckneyville middle is right down the block and it’s majority minority. And yes, it feeds from three different elementary schools. The biggest thing, you know, and that’s just to set the playing field, but the biggest thing is involvement, right. But involvement has to come like Joe Sawyer when he ran for city council, involvement has to come to go to the planning commission. To you know, if you’re going to talk about, you know, rezoning and how do you affect lower-income rezoning? I’ve talked about that when we you know, when I was on the planning commission, how do we do that? Of course Gwinnett County at the time would tell me we can’t do those things, it would be illegal, we get lawsuits, we’d have to protect it. It’s like, I don’t see it. I just, I don’t see putting multi-units like 13, like apartments next to homes. Doesn’t work that way. You know, it just doesn’t. But if we’re all involved, if we all have a voice at the table and it’s hard when maybe two people work in a family and maybe they’re doing two jobs, three jobs and they can’t get there, we have to make it easier for them at least to participate. See the stuff online, be able to communicate online. We’re doing all our telework and online, there’s no reason in the world why we can’t communicate online to our representative. And if they’re not being responsive, throw them out. I mean, that’s, that’s politics. That’s the way this works. That’s the way it’s always worked. If we’re not, if we want to make the change, we need
to do it from the inside out. Unless you want a revolution that takes down a government, that’s a whole different story and I don’t want to go there. But the best way to do it and the way that people will accept it better is from inside out to do that work. And it has worked, but you know what? There are people that just don’t want to do that work. It’s easier to just talk about it. If you’re going to be there, you need to do the work, get your representatives and go to those meetings. I mean, really, it doesn’t take a lot of votes to put a city council person in or a state Senator or a house seat. Now, president, you know, can’t talk about that. But, and I don’t understand how 3 million people can vote for one person. Not that I was for her, but vote for the one that’s in their house now. I just don’t know how that goes, but you have to be involved and I don’t want to keep going on, but that’s, to me that’s a…
Karl: [01:10:13] Alright, I’ll wrap up by saying, first, thank you all for coming out. Let’s have this conversation. We would normally be doing this together. We’d be doing it while breaking bread and having coffee or drinks and talk. And we can’t do that now. But I think it was still important that we have this conversation and that more of these happen. My only tips to folks would be, fundamentally falls around three things. One, this weekend I hear that Hamilton will be streaming on Disney plus, so if you want to talk about getting involved, doing more with, with the talents that you have, take a watch at Hamilton. And you don’t have to do all the things he did, but you could do what you can in your own community and in your own house. The second thing, I would say for those folks that, you know, feel that there’s an injustice that they’re starting to realize, and they know something about it doesn’t feel right, and they want to do something. It’s really simple. If you want to tell people that you support social justice, more than words, where you put your time and where you put your resource, money tells people what’s important to you. So, whether it’s protesting, whether it’s supporting schools, whether it’s supporting things in the community. Think about where you spend your time, where you put your resources, if you want to help drive more, equity in the community you live, you live in. And the last thing I’d say for folks to think about, reach out. And if you haven’t talked to someone that’s different from you, it’s a great time to start doing that. Learn to understand different perspectives. And for those that are uncomfortable with it yet, that’s okay too. This may not be your time and moment, but I’ll tell you something, your kids are changing. And they’re going to follow. The millennials and the generation to follow are going to force us to change it regardless. So it’s a question when you want to jump on the bus, but I do think that that the next generation is going to dictate how and what this society is like. So thank you Mo. Thank you, Michael and Rico again for allowing us to have these conversations.I appreciate you for creating this platform to do that. Take care everybody have a good day and tune in to Peachtree Corners Life podcast. It’s streamed, this’ll be on Facebook live along with the other conversations. And, you know, start having your own. Thank you everyone.
Transit Referendum, Crooked Creek Trail, COVID-19 business grants and more from Peachtree Corners
Why should you care about the Transit Referendum on the Nov 3rd Ballot? Plus, information on the Crooked Creek Trail, COVID-19 business grants, crime prevention initiatives and more. All with my guests, city council members Phil Sadd and Weare Gratwick.
Recorded live on Saturday morning, streaming as a LIVE simulcast.
How are Gwinnett Schools Handling the COVID Challenge and Hybrid Learning with Mary Kay Murphy
How are Gwinnett Schools handling COVD19, distance, and in-person learning, and what is the future direction they should be taking. We interview current school board member Mary Kay Murphy (District 3)
Where to find the topic in the podcast, Timestamp:
[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:03:40] – About Mary Kay
[00:08:19] – E-SPLOST on the Ballot
[00:14:14] – Challenges for the Next Six Months
[00:21:37] – Getting the Technology to Students
[00:26:17] – How the Board has Handled COVID
[00:30:48] – Pay for Drivers and Teachers
[00:32:39] – School Resource Officers
[00:34:11] – School Board Transparency
[00:37:46] – Closing
How will State Senate Candidate Matt Reeves Help Peachtree Corners
Republican State Senate District 48 candidate Matt Reeves joins host Rico Figliolini on Peachtree Corners Life podcast to discuss COVID-19, the Governor’s response, mask-wearing, social justice, police reforms, Black Lives Matters, kids going back to school, education funding, state ethics and why he’s running for the State Senate.
[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:02:16] – About Matt
[00:07:01] – Thoughts on COVID
[00:13:26] – Education Issues
[00:16:31] – Budget Cuts
[00:18:55] – Black Lives Matter, Immigrants, and Minorities
[00:26:55] – Police Force
[00:32:47] – Term Limits
[00:34:55] – Ethics in Government
[00:38:38] – Closing
Social Media: @MattReevesGA
“We all chose this area because of the strong schools, jobs, safe communities, good health care. And I want to make sure that all those quality of life pillars of our community are strong going forward.”Matt Reeves
Recorded socially safe online and in the City of Peachtree Corners, Georgia
Rico: [00:00:30] Hi everyone. This is Rico Figliolini host of Peachtree Corners Life. And, I appreciate you coming to the show. We’re doing this socially safe in the city of Peachtree Corners. And before we get to our guest, who’s on screen. Matt Reeves. Hey Matt, how are you?
Matt: [00:00:45] Hello.
Rico: [00:00:46] I’ll introduce him and go in to introduce himself. But first, before we get into that, I want to just talk about our lead sponsor, Hargray Fiber. They’re a Southeastern company that does fiber optics for the business community and for consumers. But the fiber side of it is delivering the type of speed and services necessary for small businesses and large businesses, enterprise businesses, to do their work in this teleworking environment, during the COVID-19. And hopefully, and providing services, unlike the cable companies. Really they’re right there community and they’re providing a lot of things in the community. They are very involved in every community they’re in, whether it’s Savannah, Peachtree Corners, Macon Georgia all over the Southeast, Tallahassee, Florida, they are there. So visit HargrayFiber.com or Hargray.com/business to find out how you can work your smart office and work with them. So now that we’ve done that, I want to tell you that we’re going to be discussing a lot of issues over the next 30 to 40 minutes with Republican State Senate candidate, Matt Reeves. We’re going to be discussing issues of the day; COVID-19, Black Lives Matter, state ethics, term limits, all sorts of things. We’re going to be going back and forth on this, but before we get into all that, I’d like to have Matt introduce himself and tell us why we should be listening to him as a candidate for State Senate.
Matt: [00:02:16] Thanks Rico and great to connect with folks in the audience from Peachtree Corners. Definitely want to be a great advocate for Peachtree Corners in Gwinnett County, in North Bolton, in the States Senate. My name is Matt Reeves. I’m a resident of Duluth for the last 17 years. So I live right next door in Gwinnett County. I have practiced law business and real estate litigation at Anderson St. Cornwall firm for about 17 years. I went to university of Georgia law school before that, and then Mercer undergrad to college before that. My wife Suzette and I, and our three kids who are eleventh grade, eighth grade and fifth grade. Live in the Duluth, we’re active in the community. And I just want to serve our community and keep the quality of life strong in Peachtree Corners, Duluth, Swanee, Lawrenceville, Johns Creek, part of Alpharetta, part of Norcross, for the next generation. We all chose this area because of the strong schools, jobs, safe communities, good health care. And I want to make sure that all those quality of life pillars of our community are strong going forward. The State Senate has 35 Republicans and 21 Democrats. I’m reaching out to independents, to centrist Democrats as well as Republicans, to be a good advocate for our community, because I believe I can get more done for Peachtree Corners in the State Senate on the Republican side of the aisle. I know there are a couple of issues, Rico that you’ve selected, but just, you know, one thing to know is, I spent some time at the Capitol years ago, was a lawyer for the house judiciary committee in 2008. I worked with Wendell Willer, who was the, one of the leaders on the new cities movement, which Peachtree corners benefited greatly from. Chairman Tom Rice was laying the
groundwork for the work in the legislature for Peachtree Corners as was Senator David Schaefer in 2008, when I was down there. Dunwoody was the city that was spearheaded during the session that I was down there. But, I got to see the early stages of Peachtree Corners. And over the last eight years, Peachtree Corners definitely has been a leader in our region, as a new city and I look forward to being an effective advocate and a bipartisan problem-solver on behalf of Peachtree Corners in the state Senate. And I hope to earn people’s support, in the community for this, competitive State Senate seat.
Rico: [00:04:32] Yeah, I’m glad you, you came on with me. I remember doing this from home. I think about two, two and a half years ago during the campaign in 2018, when you ran the first time. And that was, you know, during the, was it the blue wave, we shall say. Democrats coming into, house seats in positions. 2020 is a little different. You know, I don’t know if that, if that still will go on. So this is a proven, this is going to be a test, right. To some degree to see what the voters want. And so this is good way to be able to talk to you and, and see if, if your points of view is what the voters here want in 2020.
Matt: [00:05:12] And I, politics, and partisan politics, changes like the weather. I think what, folks in Peachtree Corners and Gwinnett County, what they ask is who can do the best job for them in this particular office. And, that’s what I’m focusing on in the States Senate race. Who can do the best job for Peachtree Corners in the State Senate seat for the benefit of our schools. The safety of our communities, transportation solutions, health care, the things that are important to us and make our communities strong. Who can be a better advocate in the State Senate. And, you know, David Shaffer was the president pro-tem of the Senate. He was number one out of 50 senators. The, the Democrat who won in 2018 got put on the agriculture committee, which is not exactly the kind of position Peachtree Corners wants to have down there in the Senate and then wait for higher office. And it’s an open seat again. So we get to make a choice about for the next two years, who can serve Peachtree Corners and tackle the issues that face our homeowners and, and, voters, families, and small businesses in Peachtree Corners and be a good advocate in this turbulent time where you’ve got, you know, COVID-19, you’ve got civil unrest. Who can lead the way and make sure Georgia remains number one in jobs, has increasing number of jobs with health insurance coverage. You know, there’s no government program any better for an adult then a job is. There’s no government program, any better for a child than a family is. I think state government ought to do a few things and do them well and keep a climate where we have, where we continue to be, attractive for employers and jobs so that, families can meet their, their needs and have their kids, getting educated and going to college and have a bright future in the job market. That’s my goal, in the State Senate.
Rico: [00:07:01] Yeah. And it’s interesting cause it’s, it is certainly a different look at it. More conservative, look at it. I do believe in personal responsibilities, but I also believe government is there to do certain things. Certainly I believe the federal government you’re spearheaded more than they have during the COVID-19 time. But you know, different points of views. And this is what this is about. An election in 2020, different than any other election in our history for a simple matter that lot of people may not be going to the polls in person, right? They’re going to
be mailed ballots. I mean, Georgia put out over 6 million absentee ballot requests forms, and over a million responded, more than any, you know, I think it was 10 to 12 times more than any other year in fact. So that may still happen November third. We may still end up doing that, seeing that happen because of COVID-19. So staying on the issue of COVID-19, do you think Governor Kemp has done the right job in, in, in the approach that he has done? Would you do anything different? Do you see the State Senate providing any other leadership in this from your point of view?
Matt: [00:08:09] Going forward, what, what I would do, as a State Senator is to make sure that the 95% or more of the population that has not directly encountered COVID, that they have their healthcare needs attended to without disruption. This has been an unexpected, invisible enemy that has attacked us. We’ve handled things on an urgent basis, but, it troubles me to see that a hundred percent of the resources in health care and in, you know, the government part of the government that deals with healthcare is devoted to COVID, when we got folks with diabetes, heart conditions, cancer, many other elective surgery. I talked to somebody this week who has had a thyroid procedure delayed since March, due to COVID issues. And I want to make sure that we definitely attack COVID to preserve lives and livelihoods, but also, make sure that healthcare needs for the other 95% of the population are attended to. And, you know, part of that is, making sure that we’re smart about how we open back up. You know, it sounds like right now, the thing that has gotten us up at the top in Gwinnett County, and then you look in Texas and Houston, we have a very, strong young population and, people like my mother-in-law and people, my age and older have heeded, the warnings. I’ve got my, I’ve got my UGA mask and you know, if I’m out in doors in public, I’ve got that mask on. My office has adopted a protocol from a local engineering firm that is working well here. We get the memo and the middle age and up here in Gwinnett County, but young people have, I think, too rapidly, disregarded social distancing and other health cautions for COVID. And also translating into multigenerational families, who, with English as a second language, I think that we need to do a better job of reaching out. Because both in Atlanta, as well as Houston and some other major Metro areas. Those are two areas, I heard Dr. Arona, the Gwinnett County and Rockdale and Newton health director, this, this week, mentioned that. That Wilburn and Norcross, the testing centers there, you see a lot of multigenerational families, with English as second language, getting hit hard by COVID. So we need to literally communicate in a credible and strong way, that’s easy to understand for our diverse population. I think that will turn the curve. You know, back in March and April the focus nationally and in Georgia was bending the curve. And we did that for a large portion of the population, but we are now a top 15 Metro area in the country. And Gwinnett County is leading Atlanta in cases because I think in large part of young people, as well as they…
Rico: [00:11:02] We’re a larger population. We’re a larger population too, right? The biggest County in the state. I mean, when I drive by CVS that’s right near here on certain days, there will be 15 cars wrapped around that building. So people doing the testing. We’re still some of the, some of the testing. It has to be referred testing it seems. So you have to be symptomatic to a degree. The doctor has to send you there. In some places you don’t have to be symptomatic.
Like Georgia Tech, Walgreens, I think will accept and do testing for you if you’re asymptomatic. You know, there’s that, but for a long time too, I know some of the cities that, it’s difficult to mandate a mask, I guess, right to some degree? Cause if you’ve mandated, you have to penalize it. If you’re not wearing it, right? Cause otherwise does that work or not? Now I’ve had the discussion with my son about this and he brings up a good point. He says, well, Yes. Sure. Do you cite people $50 or $75 for that ticket? Or does the governor mandate it and even if no one gets cited for it, right? There’s a different feel about being, saying that the mask is mandated and people will understand then maybe that they really do need to wear that mask. You know, so sometimes it’s perception, right? It’s the, the lens that you look through it. But we need to do something because it’s just not, I mean, I go out with the mask all the time, I guess I’m part of that demo.
Matt: [00:12:28] Well, and also COVID is an international crisis. And so not only do we have 50 States that we can learn healthcare and medical lessons from, but we have literally hundreds of countries who have approached the situation differently. And there are some success stories in Asia and other countries, South Korea, Japan. Also the US is one of the few countries that takes the summer off of school. And so, hitting in January and, and, ramping up and really reaching us in mass and March, now, and having six and seven months of experience internationally with COVID. I, you know, 95% of the parents locally want to get their kids back in school in person, but I think we can look around the world and see best practices on, getting kids and teachers safely returned to school.
Rico: [00:13:26] So what would, what would you do to do that? I know there’s a, you know, I have a 16 year old that wants, he wants to go back to school. He’s, he wants to be able to do an AP Calculus in person versus online, right? So there are kids that want to go back for social reasons also. How can we keep them safe then? Is there anything, how would your leadership change on that? You know, how do we put them back to school?
Matt: [00:13:51] Number one, I trust the locals. I think the local school boards and local school superintendents, can make decisions for the best interest of their teachers and students better than somebody in downtown Atlanta or Washington, DC can. And I think that North Fulton, which their biggest schools in North Fulton are, you know, 1,500 to 2,000 students. Where in Gwinnett we have the jumbo size high schools with closer to 3,000 or more students a lot of times. So every school system is different. I think that, we all listen closely to parents and, and in large numbers of students also, saying they want to get back in person. But there are some outliers where people want to do digital learning for health reasons or other reasons, or personal precaution reasons. So I think that we ought to give people choices whenever possible in this uncharted waters of COVID. But I think we need to do everything we can to get kids back to school safely, as well as teachers. And we need to look around the country. We need to look around the world about how other countries and other States have safely, had had, students returned to school. The toll on these young people’s education is high. And, we need to make sure that, the ground that was lost in March and April and May, that we make up for that and the kids don’t get behind. Because you know, there’s a digital divide in Gwinnett it’s discernible. A
lot of kids didn’t have the technology readily available when they got sent home, kids never logged in. Some of that is, support at home priority on education. Other, other, situation is it’s resources. But getting those kids’ attention back on their education is critical.
Rico: [00:15:33] So, so let me ask you this and then we’ll, and then I want to move on to another subject. But just to close this out a little bit, the budget, the state budget cut education. They cut a lot of things across the board, but it did cut education as part of it. Gwinnett County’s remaining, with its budget, I believe they’re not going to furlough people. They are mandating masks, so obviously they need to buy PPE stuff to be able to do that. Because some people may not have masks and some kids and families and stuff. They’re going to need those masks, right? So they’re mandating that for the Fall, if they actually open up. And they’re giving two choices, either you do online learning or you do in person learning. So it depends on how people want to choose that, or where they want to go. And if they can afford to do that. Like you said, people are going back to work to some degree, unless things get rolled back. So where do they send their kids while they working, right? Because the school works almost as a daycare in a way.
Matt: [00:16:31] Yeah.
Rico: [00:16:31] Kids in school during the time that adults are working and stuff. So, you know, the State cut that budget. I mean, would you have voted for that cut? Would you, what would you have done? How would you have affected that? How would you want to help school systems throughout the state because Gwinnett County is one that probably can afford to do some of this stuff, but there are other counties and other parts that might not be to do that same thing. So how would you, how would a Matt Reeves position be on some or something like that?
Matt: [00:17:02] Rico when times are tough and the revenue decreases in state government, it becomes all the more critical to have a strong advocate for your area down in the State Senate, because I was there in 2008 when revenue started to decline, as the great recession hit. And I saw what happens when you have limited resources, the ones who were effective advocates for their districts, or the areas of Georgia that are looked after well, at that point, that was towards the tail end of Governor Perdue’s time in office. So folks in middle Georgia, were well looked after. That’s where, Larry O’Neil was chairman of ways and means. He was literally Governor Perdue’s lawyer back, back home on personal matters. And so, in a competitive political landscape where we have, very strongly held feelings on national issues. I would ask folks in Peachtree Corners in Gwinnett County and North Fulton for this critical State Senate seat ask who can help our area the best in the State Senate, where it’s 35 Republicans, 21 Democrats. I want education money at a time when times are tough financially to go to Gwinnett County schools. If we have somebody who’s on the short end of a 35 to 21 vote, you’re going to have funds go to Cobb County, Forsyth County, Cherokee County, where folks are in the majority. I want to be a strong and effective advocate for North Fulton schools and Gwinnett schools in the State Senate. When, you know, there’s a saying, if you’re not at the table, you’re on the table. And, you know, we’re talking a lot about healthcare and, and, I want to be in the position of
getting resources and decisions and public policy made in favor of our Gwinnett and North Fulton schools, rather than having others make those decisions for the benefit of their own districts elsewhere.
Rico: [00:18:55] How do you, so, so let’s, and I appreciate that. And I think that the citizens of Peachtree Corners appreciates that point of view. They want their representatives to, you know, think big, broad, but they’re also local, right? Because we all, that’s why we have a representative there to be able to talk local and be able to help a city like ours or the area that you represent, Swanee and the other areas as well. But let’s change directions a little bit. Let’s talk about the other news because 2020 is just unusual for all sorts of reasons. So COVID-19 is one, but also the social unrest. Black lives matter, the, whole social justice, police violence against black community, people of black and brown color. It’s just been a tough situation, it’s been also a tough situation to speak honestly, a little bit about these things, because sometimes people can get shut down on both sides of it. Rather than being, allowed to be transparent and talk about issues, because it’s a sensitive issue. And, so I know people are out there saying, well, some people shouldn’t even talk about this issue because maybe they don’t have a, an experience in it. But I think we all need to talk about it right, culturally and for a variety of reasons. How do you feel about this issue? Where would, you know, what do you think the state Senate should do? What do you think your position on, on this should be? And where are you on the speed?
Matt: [00:20:24] Well, I learned a lot and I listened in the peaceful protest in Duluth. My wife Suzette and I went to that along with friends from a group of, city ministry team friends that we had through Perimeter church. There’s a group of pastors in Duluth called the Unite Churches, which is a culturally diverse group of pastors, African American, Asian, Latino, perimeter church, which is, you know, a growingly diverse church, but a lot of Caucasian people, there. But, we went to that peaceful protest, listened and learned a lot, and cared and expressed attention and concern, with this issue. Obviously what happened with George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, and others, it’s wrong. It’s tragic. It showed us that sometimes you can have a fatal and, and murder, actions by folks who wear a uniform. You know, the bill of rights, going back to our founding documents, half of the bill of rights dealt with the criminal justice and keeping government in check and serving the people. 99% of folks with a badge and law enforcement are good people who are serving the public. But there’s always a danger of disastrous consequences of folks in, in, with government power abusing that, particularly, with minorities and other people who are, you know, are helpless, and in custody and, you know, can’t breathe. And so, that hurts my heart. It’s something I want to do something about, but I would like to acknowledge the fact that Georgia has been a leader in what people are asking for now, criminal justice reform. Over the last decade, Georgia has been a leader in the nation in that area. We have, put a priority on getting people rehabilitated and back into the workforce and not having a Scarlet letter for life if you make a mistake. We’ve, we’ve said in Georgia, we want to get people off of drugs and out of a life of crime, and we want to get people educated and employed. I think that’s a good thing. And, you know, we don’t want to warehouse people in jail and throw away the key. We want to get people rehabilitated. Now, folks, who’ve made a decision to live a life of armed robbery and
home invasion, and rape and murder and gun crimes. Yeah, they need to be locked up . But yeah, there are many, first time offenders, sadly people who’ve come, back and are young veterans who, you know, were suffering from a disruption in their life. We have a veterans court in Gwinnett, as a result of that criminal justice reform that we’re helping young veterans who’ve come back and kind of lost their way in addiction and, and other pain, and made some bad choices. So DUI court, veterans court, mental health court, intervention in a way that turns around, people. That’s been, something that’s been good, you know Georgia started as a debtor’s colony. We’ve always believed in a second chance and I think we need to realize our…
Rico: [00:23:19] Also Georgia has a lot of history and other things as well.
Matt: [00:23:24] Well, Martin Luther King. Martin Luther King is from here, the black community and the Christian community in Georgia produced Martin Luther King. And so Georgia has some very special things. We’re now a leader in population and economy. We need to step up to the plate and lead the way in the country on criminal justice reform and other things.
Rico: [00:23:44] So what would you? So then Matt I, listen, I come from New York. So moving down here in ’95, South of the Mason Dixon line, if you will. It’s an old term right, now most people won’t know that I guess. But you know, it is different. If I go out into, and good people, I’m not saying bad people, good people, good ways. But there’s certainly different points of views depending where you go in the state. So not everything is, as good as, as it needs to be, right? That’s all be honest about that.
Matt: [00:24:13] Right, and Rico, let me say on that, my metric, whether you’re in Americus Georgia, or Albany Georgia, or Macon, or here in Gwinnett County. I think every black parent and grandparent, they want their young people to have a diploma, to have career opportunities, to have money in the bank, to be treated fairly. Those are things I think that we can agree on across racial lines, and make sure that the American dream is alive and well in Georgia. But my metric is those. Let’s get our young people educated, have bright employment opportunity, and make sure that they have access to the American dream and they’re not barriers there. Look around Atlanta, we even have more community banks with black entrepreneurs leading the way and, and, if you look at Metro city bank at Verse Intercontinental bank you have some Asian and Indian banks, we even got a Chinese, a new bank and John’s Creek. We need to have a black…
Rico: [00:25:11] There’s Loyal Trust Bank, yeah.
Matt: [00:25:12] That’s right.
Rico: [00:25:13] Yeah. And I, and I agree with you. I mean, I think economically anyone that moves up into the middle class is always better. Because any, any group group of people that do that. I mean, it goes back, I could go back to, you know, we could do the history lesson or go back to the Irish, to Germany, the Italian. Go back to the Asians that came to this country from a
variety of countries, whether it was Laos, Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam. And how a lot of them moved up the ladder. The Latinos that came here that, hard workers, all of them. It seems to be immigrants are always hard workers. There’s a reason why they took the danger and the things to be able to come here because they want to succeed. So there’s a lot to be said about that, right?
Matt: [00:25:58] Here’s, here’s a good example about immigrants. The pharmacy in the neighborhood where that Wendy’s was where the shooting and then the ensuing civil unrest happened, the pharmacy in that neighborhood was started by an immigrant gentlemen from Swanee who invested his life work and life savings down there in that neighborhood, which is near where the brave stadium was where Georgia state has taken over. He had some confidence on that neighborhood, but there are a lot of senior citizens there who are homebound, they deliver a lot of those prescriptions, those senior citizens in need. There are schools there. It is tragic to have all hell breaking loose in that neighborhood that was on the upswing and revitalizing. That has a lot of people who’ve lived there their whole life, and now they’re senior citizens. You’ve got kids in school, George Washington Carver is the high school there. We need to restore safety to communities, ASAP.
Rico: [00:26:55] So then what would you do, Matt? As far as, and then let’s, let’s move on to some other issues too, but just to, because it’s, it’s the thing that’s out there. What would you do to reform police? What would be legislation that would be out there? You know, there’s the, there’s several proposals out there as far as, stopping choke holds and, and, limiting liability so that people can sue the police and stuff like that. What would you do? What would be the specific reforms that you’d like to see go in?
Matt: [00:27:24] Well, I would get to the basics first. I think that the, examining police training and make sure that the new officers who are coming in the Police Academy are getting best management practices of being effective law enforcement and also not having unnecessary escalation. I think that, community policing works. So I think having a recruitment effort of letting middle school and high school students in Clayton County and Dekalb County and Fulton County inside the perimeter know that you have a bright future, both on your, your education as well as employment. If you want to devote your career to being in law enforcement in your own community and making things better in your own community, everybody wants free college. You can go to technical school, do criminal justice there, or get a two year degree for a very low cost and then go to a four year college in Georgia for criminal justice, again at very low costs. And then graduate and be a community police officer in Atlanta and have a bright future. And I think letting kids know that in Georgia, we respect law enforcement and that we support law enforcement and young people in our diverse, young generation have a bright future in law enforcement and we ought to be on the same side. So I think the police training, recruitment. Also little things like, Bruce Lavelle reminded me of the CIB community improvement district. They had an idea about cops, cops in the neighborhood program where housing is an issue. You mentioned the salary of police officers, as we were talking earlier is low. And that pushes a lot of police officers to go moonlight in second or third jobs, which stresses them out when
they’re back on the job as a police officer. Housing, if we can get some affordable housing for law enforcement officers to live in the communities that they police and, be integral parts of the community. Many are already, but housing costs in Atlanta has really sort of disrupted. I, as I’m out in neighborhoods across the 48 Senate District, I see police cars for multiple jurisdictions. And if we could, make sure that, the law enforcement officers are in the community and visible and tied in with their own community where they’re policing. I think that’ll help a lot. But more than anything else, I think we need to have the message that America is a republic and a democracy. Things don’t work in America for people to be out of work and out of school. We need to get things back where our kids are learning and our businesses are functioning fully because bad things are happening. Some of them we needed to address. But when I, you mentioned, your background in New York, I was very disturbed to see what’s happening in New York this week, in terms of violence, gratuitous violence. That is not helping anything for people to be hitting police officers over the head with bats. And, and it raises the question, who’s giving out those bats? I’ve seen some pictures of people dropping pallets off of bricks during a protest.
Rico: [00:30:23] I don’t know about that part of it. Yeah, I mean, there’s all sorts of things on the web and stuff and social media that, are they real are they not. I mean, it’s just, it’s a variety of things. And I’m not saying, you know, violence, even if, if, if a group is angry because of what’s going on, there is no reason in the world. I don’t care. There’s no reason to throw a Molotov cocktail into an empty police car. There’s no reason to be burning a Wendy’s down. There’s just no reason for any of that violence. It’s just, it, it doesn’t help the cause. And it changes, it does change the narrative and to a bad way, right? Because everyone says, Oh, that changes the narrative when you discuss that. You don’t what, it has to be discussed because it’s wrong. How do we teach our kids? I teach my kids right and wrong. Now, you know, I don’t know about other people, but if it’s wrong to throw a Molotov cocktail into a car, it’s wrong. You just don’t drive by and throw one in there. Even if it’s empty. It’s just like, I can never understand that. But, I agree with you. I mean, we have to, it’s a cultural thing too, and we have to really observe all of that and really come, at least move down the road a little bit right? Everything you’ve said, it makes sense to, you know, to that. And we do need to way change the way some of the police are trained I guess. Let’s move on to some other issues we are getting towards the end of our time together. So I do want to make sure we hit a few things.
Matt: [00:31:52] Sure. And Rico, let me just say, Gwinnett schools. Gwinnett police that’s who polices Peachtree Corners? Gwinnett Police, Gwinnett Police, I’ve done ride alongs through leadership Gwinnett and pay attention to what’s going on in my local. Who’s gonna fight for the budget gaps that are needed when, we need funding as well as public policy changes, for Gwinnett Police and, and for our local police departments. I want to be an effective advocate. That’s the stakes in the State Senate race. Who can go down there and get things done for our local law enforcement, our local schools, transportation solutions, healthcare. Washington is not going to solve our healthcare. We can’t just punt and say Medicaid is going to take it over. We need to make sure that we have jobs and insurance and good health care networks here in Georgia. No one’s gonna do it for us. We’ve got to go, send an advocate from our community down there to get good things done on those basic needs.
Rico: [00:32:47] Okay. Good to hear. The other issues you’ve been talking about, I think on the campaign trail has been, nonpartisan, County officer’s nonpartisan term limits. Do you think State Senate should be term limited?
Matt: [00:33:02] Yes. I think if you can’t go get good things done in eight years, pass the baton to somebody else who could do it. Now, when you get elected, I think you oughta serve out your term, and, you know, not be looking at some other higher office. You need to be focused on doing a good job in a short amount of time and then go live under the laws that you make. That’s the principle of having nonpartisan and term limited elections. All of the cities in the 48 Senate district have nonpartisan municipal elections and it works great. Gwinnett County, we now have a multi billion dollar County budget, a multibillion dollar school budget, and of course in Fulton County, they have an equally large school and County budget. Their population is over a million we’re right at a million in Gwinnett. I think having more people having a seat at the table with this high population and budget is a good thing. I think, having citizen legislators and not partisan career politicians, I think that would be a good improvement. Our cities are already doing it and let’s pass it on to our counties. Now this is not a new issue for me. I’ve been an advocate for this in the past, I was the Republican party lawyer, as well as, the Gwinnett County bar association president. And I got called upon, from having served in those two roles to advocate for the master court and the probate court, in Gwinnett to go nonpartisan, six or seven years ago, representative Chuck F Thracian, was a leader in that initiative. Those offices went nonpartisan years ago. I got to go to the bill signing. I’ve got the, the bill signing pen from Governor Deal and those nonpartisan offices have worked well since then, as well as our cities being nonpartisan. And listen, I’m a bipartisan problem solver. I’m a fiscal conservative and, and proud to be a Republican, but I want to reach out to Democrats and Independents and get some good public policy that will serve our community in our state. That’s what I’m all about.
Rico: [00:34:55] Cool. The, let’s get back, okay. And by the way, if anyone notices, there has been some interruption of our Facebook live stream, so you’ll get this full version, after, after the show. So what, you know, let’s. Let’s talk a bit about, you know, term limits is one thing. Yes, we want to make sure that, we have new, new, fresh people in place instead of someone in there 20 years, let’s say. Cause that’s having people in a position too long. There’s something to be said about experience, but there’s also something to be said about, the power structure. When you have people in place for 20 or 30 years in the same seat, right. It becomes a bit of a, contrary to growth if you will. But ethics, ethics is the other issue, that you discuss. Ethics is very tough issue. It’s tough to be self regulated. It’s tough for a body, a State Senator, a state house to have their own ethics committee. And they’re going to self regulate themselves. That’s a bit of an issue. I don’t know how well that can be done. And it seems like it almost never can be done well, I’ve never seen it yet that way. How, how do you think you can do it differently?
Matt: [00:36:06] Sure. And I put this in there just to let folks know in the Senate district, that I think that, state government and the State Senate ought to serve the people and that ought to be the focus and we ought to have transparency in government. And, we need to have, you
know, a vibrant system where everybody knows what’s going on at the Capitol. Now, the state ethics commissioner is across the street from the Capitol, the house and Senate have their own ethics committees. But what I’m talking about is the state ethics commission, I want to make sure they have the resources and the infrastructure to handle their matters promptly. There was just so much, so much turnover over the course of a decade in that office. So we’ve now got a good former prosecutor in there. We’ve got some great lawyers and personnel in the office, and I want to make sure that they can process their cases efficiently. Just like a good district attorney’s office would. You look at Danny Porter and how well he runs things in Gwinnett. And I, I, I don’t think that their focus should be prosecuting people, but I think that they, they should have a good efficient system where they process their cases from beginning to end a lot more quickly and efficiently. And there’s a procedure to weed out the overtly political matters that get opened up versus ones where there’s an actual problem with disclosure and transparency. I’ve raised my money locally from people primarily in the Senate district, or sometimes at the Senate district. I look at races around Metro Atlanta, and you have this flood of outside money coming in and you don’t really know where it’s coming from or why it’s, you know, being spent here in Georgia. But I want to make sure that the State Senate has its focus on serving the people in their districts and there’s transparency and ethics in government public service and citizen, legislators. That’s what we need down there at the Capitol and transparency and I believe strongly in that. My dad retired a couple years ago from being a DA in the Southwestern circuit. I worked at the DA’s office in law school. I drove up to Madison County every Friday in my last year in law school and did prosecution there so I’m familiar with that whole process of how a prosecutor’s office works. And although they’re not, I don’t want them to be criminal, I do want them to have the resources, the personnel, the procedures in place to be efficient and effective and make sure that we match up with our population. Georgia is going to be almost a top five state after the census. We’ve been number one in jobs. We’re almost the top five state. We need to overhaul everything in state government and make sure that we’re delivering that kind of excellence to our citizens.
Rico: [00:38:38] Excellent. We are at the end of our time together. So usually what I do, Matt and we’ve done this before, is that I’ll have the candidate ask for the vote. So you have about two minutes. Give us why Matt Reeves should be the State Senate rep for district 48.
Matt: [00:38:58] Peachtree Corners, you are blessed to have some great elected officials. Mayor Mason, the city council, first lady mrs. Mayor, Debbie Mason, Mary Kay Murphy school board representative, Ben Coux, formally, Linette Howard. You’ve got a great bunch of local elected officials. I want to, augment that excellence down at the State Capitol and effectively be an advocate for Peachtree Corners down there. Bi-partisan problem solving, you look at the Simpsonwood matter where I represented the church. I worked closely with UPCCA that’s how I met Scott Hilton years ago. I worked with the elected officials at the city and the County went to probate court, superior court, appellate court. But problem solved along the way in a way that, that property is now a park rather than not a controversy that worries everybody. So, that’s a good example of what I’ve done out here and the history of the last 17 years as a business and real estate litigation lawyer. And I’ve also cared about the community. I’ve been actively involved
in things like the Duluth parks board, the Gwinnett County education, SPLOST renewal campaign, rotary and other civic matters. I care about the future of our community, just like you do. I want to be an effective advocate for Peachtree Corners, Berkeley Lake, Duluth, and other communities down in the State Senate. I’d be honored to earn your support. Matt Reeves for Senate is my website. Matt Reeves for State Senate on Facebook and, @MattReevesGA on Twitter. Let me hear from you (770) 236-9768 is my number. Call me anytime. I’d love to get to hear about you and your perspective on how Peachtree Corners can be an excellent community through advocacy in the state Senate over the next two years. Thank you.
Rico: [00:40:40] Excellent, Matt. Thank you. I appreciate you coming on. Stay with me while we log off, but everyone, thank you for listening in. Matt Reeves candidate, Republican candidate for State Senate district 48. That represents, that represent Peachtree corners among other cities within that State Senate district. So that’s coming up, November 3rd is the election. There’s early voting. That’s going to be happening obviously for that, I believe
Matt: [00:41:03] October 12th
Rico: [00:41:05] October 12th.
Matt: [00:41:06] That’s early voting
Rico: [00:41:08] Well, okay. Right. The election if you deemed to go in the, November third is, is the it’s but yeah. October 12th. So check out the, go to, you know, make sure you, you’re actually, can people register to vote yet?
Matt: [00:41:23] Absolutely. Gwinnett County board of elections, as well as secretary of state, if you’ve moved or you’re new, get registered now. Make sure there’s no surprises as you get close to the election and be prepared to either absentee vote, early vote, starting October 12th or vote in person November the third.
Rico: [00:41:43] Excellent. Thanks, Matt. I appreciate you being with us. Thank you everyone
Matt: [00:41:46] Thank you for your time.
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