City of Peachtree Corners, Georgia residents, and leaders speak out about change and actively becoming a more anti-racist community.
This second episode of this mini-part series includes Executive Pastor of Victory Church, Darius Dunson, GA House Representative (District 95) Beth Moore, and business owner and community leader Joe Sawyer. 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.
[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:06:08] – Feelings About the Protests
[00:15:00] – Code Switching and the Commonality of Injustice
[00:24:37] – Bringing People to the Table
[00:30:07] – The Church’s Role
[00:35:38] – Drawing the Line
[00:43:43] – Equal Support
[00:49:25] – What Can People Do?
[00:52:23] – Policies and The Legal Side
[00:57:37] – Actionable Steps
[01:09:44] – Closing
Recorded socially safe online and in the City of Peachtree Corners, Georgia
“But you know, we have to overcome. We have to be, we’re all in this together. You know, my daddy used to always say, everybody bleeds red. But we just gotta get past the color of the skin. And remember we were all made in God’s image. And that’s the thing. I think that’s the problem that people are having.”JOE SAWYER
Rico: [00:00:30] Excellent. Hi everyone. This is Rico Figliolini host of Peachtree Corners Life here in the city of Peachtree Corners, Georgia, Gwinnett County. We’re doing a series of episodes, podcasts with my cohost for these episodes, Karl Barham who’s my cohost on Capitalist Sage. Hey, Karl.
Karl: [00:00:50] Hey, how you doing?
Rico: [00:00:51] Good. So we’re heading into these episodes, bringing in different leaders in the community to talk about social injustice and a topic that is, a topic difficult for some people to speak about, to talk about having that conversation. But we hope these series of podcasts will put out some good, honest commentary and interactions and information that we can all use and perhaps even give us some insight. So I’m going to let Karl go ahead and introduce our guests today. Thank you, Karl.
Karl: [00:01:25] Thank you Rico. I’m going to start with giving context to the conversation today. And for many of you have seen and know on May 26, 2020, there was a start of protests that was born out of an African American named George Floyd that was killed during a police arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Fast forward a few weeks later on June 12th a 27 year old African American father was shot and killed by Atlanta police department, after responding to a complaint that he was asleep in his car at a Wendy’s drive through. If you look we’re over a month later, and the protests have been happening, communities everywhere have been having discussions around racial, social justice, racial justice, and, and some of the things that are happening at local and national level. Well today on Peachtree Corners Life, we invited some local residents and leaders to start a discussion on community leadership and social and racial justice. What can individuals do, community leaders do to figure out where we are today in the community. And to simply offer an opportunity for citizen leaders to start the discussion that can lead to the changes that can help keep communities safe for all citizens. Whether it’s an encounter with law enforcement or what might be happening in the schools or in the health systems, we’re looking to have this discussion, maybe offer some ideas and, and really answer the question. What can citizens do? So let’s start that conversation by introducing you to our guests today. First I’d like to start, introduce, Joe Sawyer, who is a resident, a small business owner, as well as a community leader here in Peachtree Corners. We also have Beth Moore, who is a resident, Peachtree Corners longtime resident, as well as the Georgia house representative for district 19, 95, excuse me. and also a small business owner and attorney that lives here in Peachtree Corners. We also have Darius Dunson a staff member of Victory Church. He also owns a business and is a long time Atlanta native, born, raised and lived here for a long time. And I’d love to start off, maybe Darius, if you introduce yourself real quickly, supposed to learn a little bit about you and then we can have Beth and Joe follow after that, before we start our discussion.
Darius: [00:03:49] Yes, thanks Karl. And, thank, thanks Rico. Again, Darius Dunson. I get the privilege of serving with the pastoral team at Victory Church in Norcross. And, from my experience, it’s just so good to be a part of this community, a vibrant community, really growing.
I have a wife and four children. I’ve been married for 24 years now and counting. But I really appreciate being on the call because I believe this is a very important issue. And I also love the fact that we are having this conversation.
Karl: [00:04:29] Thank you. Beth?
Beth: [00:04:32] Hi everyone. This is your state representative, Beth Moore. Thank you, Karl and Rico for inviting me into this conversation. Hopefully I can provide some insights as to how we are addressing the issue of racial injustice from a legislative perspective. Of course I am a resident of Peachtree Corners by way of Dunwoody originally just a, a couple of miles down the road. And I’m very grateful for this panel today to have this conversation. Not only is it front and center on most American’s minds right now, but it’s a conversation that is long overdue. I’ve certainly learned a lot from just being a listener over the past couple of weeks, and I’m here to both listen and offer what I can to the conversation. So thanks again for having us.
Karl: [00:05:21] Thank you. Hey Joe.
Joe: [00:05:24] How are you doing? I’m Joe Sawyer, I’ve been a resident of Peachtree Corners since, well about the last 25 years. I own a business in Peachtree Corners, a carpet cleaning business. Been in business for 21 years now. Me and my wife we’ve been together, close to 31 years. And, we have two beautiful children and five grandchildren, and I’m also the president and cofounder of Bridges Peachtree Corners. And I do like the fact, I just want to thank Karl and Rico for inviting me to be on the show, the podcast, because I think it’s a very important thing that we’re going to be talking about.
Karl: [00:06:08] Thank you. Well, I’d like to start by maybe getting some insight in how each of you have been feeling about the protest at large and, and the racial injustice that people are talking about currently in this country. I’m just wondering, how is it striking you? Maybe Beth, if you could start.
Beth: [00:06:30] Sure. Well, you know, I think like a lot of Americans, it was, you know, an uncomfortable feeling watching this, you know, all of these events unfold, you know, from, you know, understanding what happened to Ahmaud Arbery down in Brunswick, Georgia, too, watching those excruciating, you know, eight and a half minutes of the George Floyd video. You know, to learning about Brianna Taylor in Louisville. I mean, this is not the type of country that I want to live in. You know, even if my particular racial demographic is not the target of the police brutality that we’re discussing now. You know, that’s, I don’t feel safe in a world that operates like that either. You know, and then came the protests and to a certain extent some of the destruction that happened as an outcry of these events. And, you know, I, I, I learned early on that sometimes instead of having an opinion, you just gotta sit back and just watch and listen and understand, you know, not just what’s happening in real time, but the causes for what’s happening right now, because we can’t address the symptoms if we don’t address the underlying disease. And I think a lot of us have ignored this underlying disease of racism and
racial inequality in our country. You know, it’s maybe something that folks who were old enough to live through the civil rights movements in the sixties, you know, are maybe more acutely aware of, but we have, you know, two or three entire generations of people who have not had that conversation. And it’s, it’s remarkable to me to think about my own parents. You know, I’m, I’m an elder millennial, to think about my own parents having been born around the year 1950, that they grew up with segregated fountains and bathrooms. I mean, it’s a, it’s almost like history is in fact repeating itself just in different ways. And, it’s, it’s been jarring to watch, but also, you know, the silver lining is I think that people are motivated and encouraged to speak out, to get politically engaged and to move the conversation forward. Because we can’t have a conversation if we don’t, if we don’t acknowledge that the conversation needs to happen.
Karl: [00:08:52] I’m curious, Darius your thoughts on it. You speak to a lot of people through, through your role at Victory. How was, how did it take you personally as well?
Darius: [00:09:03] Personally, just again, being a black man and growing up in the South, you know, one of the things that was just crucial for me, or excruciating I’ll rephrase that, is watching those eight minutes and 46 seconds. Even though these incidents aren’t new. We just have cell phones. So we’re able to see them. Watching those eight minutes and 46 seconds was, it was like I had the air knocked out of me again. And it made me think, it made me reconsider, the small things that I do to try to survive and protect myself as a black male. My neighborhood is predominantly white. And I think about the things like, and I’m talking from a very personal perspective. I think about the times that I would decide not to run down certain streets, because a black man running down this certain street, could be seen as a criminal first. But then the other part of it is, from a personal standpoint, I feel like, I’ve been having more conversations about this issue with people who don’t think like me, people who don’t look like me, more than ever. And what I’m finding is, is that there is, a heart to understand. But I think the challenge is, is that I think we were talking a little earlier. The challenge is, is that we have to be able to have grace because we’re not going to say things the right way. Everyone is not going to be able to dot their I’s and cross their T’s when we’re having this conversation. So I think the most important thing in this time is the conversation has to be had. We all have to swallow our pride and understand that there’s two views of America when it concerns blacks and white. There, it’s the same America, but we’ve all seen it differently. I didn’t grow up, seeing America the same way my white counterparts have seen America. I didn’t see it that way. I can appreciate however, I can appreciate the fact that in these conversations I’m seeing the light bulb come on. For the people who, the people who answer the call to come to the table. For those that don’t want to answer the call for whatever reason, I have great concerns. I have great concerns that because of political reasons or because of whatever reasons, I feel like some people just don’t want to come to the table and those people will be a, will be left behind in the future of what America is to be.
Karl: [00:11:46] Very well stated. And I can tell you, identify. Joe, you’ve been working in this space and, and, and working in the community. I’m curious how you’ve seen it from, from the history of that you’ve seen and experienced.
Joe: [00:12:04] Yeah. It’s a touchy subject for me, to be honest with you. You know, I’ve had some of my friends call me, some of my white friends and they called to check on me to see how I’m doing. And you know, it, it’s hard because you know, case in point a year and a half ago, I got me and my wife who is a white woman. We got pulled over in, Duluth. And the young officer, he took it upon himself to tell me, how to dress, what to look like in court and just to downgrade me and my wife kept saying, Joe, don’t say nothing. Don’t say nothing. And I didn’t say anything. I just laughed at him. And he, I finally went ahead and told him, I said, are you finished? And he said, yes. I said, number one, I’m a 53 year old, man. I don’t need you to tell me how to dress going to court. Number two, I’m a preacher. So I know how to dress. So, you know, being born and raised, Darius I’m from Atlanta too. From Shambley Georgia, Brookhaven now. I, you know, I watched my parents go through it. My dad was born in 1917 and I’ve seen some of the stuff that he had to go through. And I’m, you know, I said, you know, I would tell him sometime he would go around and say yes or no, sir. And I’m like, dad, why did you do that? And he said, you know, this is just a respect thing. And you know, and it’s always been hard being a big person like I am, because you know, I’ve been told I’m a threat. As soon as I, if I get out of the car, the police see me, I’m a threat to them because. You know, I’m just so big. I’m what six, four, 280. So, you know, they’re scared of me already and I don’t even do anything, but it is, it’s very hard because I look at what happened to Joe in Florida. And one of my friends are very good friend of mine. Who’s been on your show. He told me, he said, you know, Joe, my biggest fear is something like that can happen to you. And I said, yeah, and that’s the truth. And I tell people now I was talking to a client this morning and I said, you know, I tell people all the time, there’s a 50/50 chance when I walk out of the door of my house that I’m coming back and they’re like, what do you mean by that? I said, well, you know, you don’t know who you’re going to run into in a police car, they can be having a bad day. They can be black or white, but the problem is being seen as a threat is always going to be a problem for me. I mean, I can’t shrink. So, you know, I am who I am, but you know, I’m always respectful to the police. You know, I, you know, you respect me, I respect you. And it’s just, it’s just been hard for me because it’s, people are opening their eyes, but how long are they eyes going to be open? Because they can open, but they can shut also and pretend like we’re right back in the, like it was two, three years ago before any of this stuff ever happened.
Karl: [00:15:00] I think I can, appreciate, being a taller, bigger black man as well. It’s always in the back of your mind to appear small and to be non-threatening as a default. There’s a term that people may or may not have heard of code switching, and it’s something that, you learn to do. And I don’t think about it. To make folks feel comfortable I could present one face or one way. And, and other times I’m a different way. Same person inside, but you learn how to do this. I don’t know if everybody else had the same experience of having to do that everyday till, so it becomes practice. And so as you, as you see what’s happening overall, I noticed it, but the call that I got in a conversation I’ve had with people, they were mentioning how terrible this was. And I would share with them just the past 10 years history and the number that would fill up a page, of people, including family members that I have that have been, subject of excessive abuse by police. Women, men. And so it happens so often. It’s sad to say that you almost get used to
seeing it, but today I noticed there were more people that are seeing it and noticing it, and there’s more people that are probably struggling with what can be done. And there’s some that say it’s happening over there, but not here. And so I’m curious, you know, have you seen other instances where, racial injustice may be happening in the communities in smaller ways or people before three weeks ago or four weeks ago may not have noticed, but it’s happening. And now with an open eye, they can see it. I’m curious if folks can describe scenarios like that, that’s happening here locally.
Joe: [00:17:02] Well Karl I was at, the forum probably about two years ago and I was outside playing outside of Bath and Body Works, playing with my grandson. And my grandson, my daughter married a white male and I was outside playing my grandson. And this lady walked up to me and she asked me, she said, who is that to you? I said, what are you talking about? She said, who is that boy to you? And I’m like lady get out of my face, you know? Take a chill pill now before you get ugly. And she just kept on and a crowd came and they were like, why did you mess with this man lady? She was like, well, I want to know who this boy is because he’s a white boy with this big old black man. And it just got to the point and this was at the forum. So it’s a couple of minutes away from your house. And so it went on and on. And probably about 10 minutes a policemen came by and he’s got, he stopped the car and he asked what was going on. And I said, well, man, I’m sitting here playing with my grandson and this lady is harassing me and he said, that’s your grandson? And I said, yeah. And he said, okay. And he asked the lady what was going on. And she said, well, I just wanted to make sure he didn’t kidnap that boy. And now I’m just, you know, I started laughing and, you know, and he told the lady to go on and leave me alone. It is stuff like that, that we have to deal with every day. I mean, it happens and people want to turn a blind eye, but they’re not doing that anymore. And, you know, and I treat everybody the same, but you know, it happens all the time. I mean, it happens in restaurants, drive through and, you know, I tell people, I get it from the best of both worlds. You know, I get racism from black people and I get it from white people and they don’t understand it. Because the black people look at me as a sellout because my wife is white. Hey man, it’s my wife. I don’t look at her as a white woman. I look at her as my wife, you know, so, you know, and I love her more now than I ever did. So, you know, it’s out there and you see it every day, but you know, it’s in the community. So, you know, you just gotta be aware of it. I mean, I see it everyday.
Rico: [00:19:11] Joe, you can’t excuse stupidity. Someone comes up and says that to you. It’s just simply stupid. And callous, I just don’t understand why it would be their business to even get in your face like that? I’m sorry to put it that way, but it’s just like, you know, some people think they’re doing the right thing. And like we talked about before, right? You have to be careful what you say sometimes and stuff. They kept it to herself if she felt that way. I mean, obviously you were playing with the kid, right? I mean.
Joe: [00:19:47] Yeah, I wouldn’t just kiss on any other baby.
Beth: [00:19:50] Well, it’s, it’s stupid, but it’s also dangerous because, you know, look at what happens up in New York city, you know, the same week as the George Floyd killing, you know, with that lady in the park, you know, threatened to call the police against the black man. Because she knew that that would potentially cause him danger in any number of ways that he could be shot and killed. He could be arrested. You know, when you get arrested, you potentially lose your job. I mean, there’s just all kinds of dangerous things that could come up with that. And that’s exactly what this woman was inching towards when she, she decided to insert herself into Joe’s personal business. Maybe in her mind it was coming from a good place, but I think deep down it was coming from a place of racism.
Darius: [00:20:35] I think the thing that I would just add to this is that when you talk about the instances of racism, people are not just out in the streets rioting. People are not just out protesting because of those two incidents or three incidents or ten incidents. It’s happening because every time we see something like that happen, it reminds us of the thousands of incidents that we process through on a yearly basis. And so when I see a George Floyd or Ahmaud Arbery, I don’t only see that I see the incident that I just had at Kroger, or I see the incident that I had at Walmart or wherever I’m at. All of these small things that happen. And, and I love the fact that Karl brought out the code switching aspect of it. Because oftentimes, again, we are just as black men, we are, it’s ingrained in us a survival mechanism that we just tried to avoid being looked at as criminal. And so when we see these incidents happen, it just stirs up every single incident that has happened over our lives. And so it’s not just these one offs or two offs. These are thousands of thousands incidents. And here’s, here’s the thing that I was, I was speaking to a couple of my friends, and I was telling them, they’re white, and I was telling them, is that the, the beautiful thing that is happening now is that the things that I used to tell people that happened, that they would never believe happened. Now we’re beginning to see these things actually happen. So a lot of times I would withhold some of the incidents because I just didn’t believe that my friends of another color would believe that these things actually happen. And oftentimes when I would communicate it, they just, they just thought I was overly reacting. They thought, no, that doesn’t happen in my world. But now we’re beginning to see no, this does happen on a regular basis. And because we see the tide turning where it concerns social media and also technology. People are ready to document these actual experiences as they happen. For every one that we see, there’s probably 10 others that we don’t see. And so I just think that, I would say it’s on a regular basis. Sometimes it’s too many times to count. Honestly. I had an incident, not too long ago, at, Lake Lanier where I was out boating with a couple of friends and, they had docked at a certain spot. A number of times they had been there. A number of times, they docked at a spot and we decided to dock at the same spot with our families. They’re white, my kids are black and we get here to this spot. And, this time when we dock at a spot that they had stopped at a number of times, the ranger comes out and proceeds to tell us that we can’t dock at this spot because it’s private and my friend was completely puzzled and we had to tell him, Hey, you know why this happened, right? And we had to explain to them and they, they just couldn’t believe that it happened the same way we talked about. And also recently, this is kind of personal to me and my wife, because on the same weekend that, George Floyd, the protests happened, my wife’s cousin was killed by the police in Nassau County, Florida. And so this just
doesn’t happen to someone out there. This, this happens to, happen to us personally, our family. So, I would just say this is very real and for those people who are watching this, if you don’t believe it’s real, get some people who, who look like me in your circle so that they can talk to you about this.
Karl: [00:24:37] That that’s, a very good point. Like Joe, my wife is white and it’s been one of the best experiences of learning and understanding cultures. Because she, she sees the world through two lenses now. And she’s got a perspective that comes from watching it and seeing, experience there’s a movie, that folks may have saw called the Hate You Give that came out a few years ago. And if you haven’t seen the movie, which was well received when it came out, but most people didn’t see it. You would be frightened at how eerily similar to what’s happening today. Movie makers were making this story two, three years ago. And when we watched that film of the family. We have two young daughters. And even at the ages of less than five years old, we start the training of the talk. We start making them aware of how things may be responded to them because they’re both black and white at times. So it’s a conversation that we have within our family, but we’ve been really blessed here to meet people. That are reaching out to understand more, to have the discussion and in our church, small groups. And it’s just, we still know there are people out there that may not have access, may not feel comfortable talking to Joe about what it’s like to be black in this community. And the more people reach out and, and bill comfort. It’s probably awkward to do it, if you don’t know the right words to say. But admit it. If you, if you tell people that you may not be, you may, you may not use the right word. People are really forgiving and people are really understanding if you seek to understand. And so that’s been a journey that we’ve gone on and now our mission is to figure out a future where these two girls can grow up and they’re not concerned that when they don’t get into a school or get a job or their they’re turned down for service. It’s not because of the color of their skin and an even better world where they have allies that come to their defense and point it out if they see it. If people see it, even though it may not be happening to you, there’s a role you can play for a more just society. As if you help to, you know, address those things, when you’re seeing it happening. I reached out to all the leaders, business leaders out there it’s happening in your companies. It’s happening with your employees. It’s happening in the healthcare system. It’s happening with criminal justice. There are people that have influence have the ears of the leaders. And if you want to do something, I’d say you could always start by starting with these small, let me introduce you to Joe Sawyer. Let me let you hear his story that you heard. Let me, let me introduce you to Darius. I mean, let me introduce you to people that can maybe bring a different perspective before you make choices.
Darius: [00:27:44] Yes. One of the other things I’ll add is that, our church, our Victory church, we get, we kind of have a unique experience. When I say that, we all know that Gwinnett County is one of the most diverse counties in the country. And, our founding pastor, pastor Dennis Rouse, one of the things that was important for us, it’s one of our foundational pillars is racial reconciliation. Which means that our church, been going for 30 years, we have about 140 different nations. So one of the challenges is that, when these things happen, we’re forced into conversations because we do life together with different people. And so, I would just say that
one of the most important things for anyone who’s listening, take the initiative and be intentional about your circle. Don’t accept your circle for what’s around it, who’s around you now. Build your circle. Build your circle with people who are different than you, who think differently than you, not just white, black, but also, who are different political persuasions than you? Because I feel like oftentimes when we come across these issues, things get hijacked into the political persuasions when we’re talking about a black man’s life matter or black woman’s life matters. When we’re talking about that, we’re not talking about political persuasion. Even there,even though there’s a political organization, we’re saying that your friend matters. If they’re your friend, they matter. My son matters. My neighbor matters. We’re talking about unless, unless their life matters, if we don’t make that their life important, then we can’t say all lives matter until black lives matter also. So, we’re forced into a conversation and we’ve been doing some things with other churches, like Perimeter church and other churches in the neighborhoods, through one race. And so I would just encourage people to call other people to the table. It’s very important that we do that in this time and not just watch it from afar, but actually get involved by calling people to the table.
Karl: [00:30:07] I’m curious about the pulling on that thread about the church’s role in this. We know there’s a part of this that’s speaking to the heart and changing people’s hearts, not only their minds, but their hearts. And the church has a powerful platform to be able to do that through whatever faith people may believe in. I’m curious what people’s perception of, you know, church leadership in churches in this and this transformation that we need in the country. I’m just curious. Maybe Joe, you can start off?
Joe: [00:30:41] I think my opinion called, being a preacher’s kid. I personally, I don’t think the churches are doing enough. And the reason I say that we are so strong. But in times like that, it takes something like this to happen for the church to say, okay, let’s do this, but we have to do this as a church 365 days a year. Now I don’t know much about Victory and a lot of other churches, I’m just involved with the one that I’m with. But the, and as long as we are scared to. You know, now it’s go, go, go, rah, rah, rah. But what is it going to be six months from now? What is it going to be a year from now? Is it going to be, you know, going back to normal. Or I don’t think we ever going to go back to normal with COVID and everything, you know. But my thing is, you know, I heard, I understand that the other day, a couple of weeks ago, after the Floyd thing, he said, I was told by the elders not to say anything about this, but I’m going to say it’s wrong. And as a church, we need to get together and get behind, you know, the movement what’s going on. I respect him for that. Because he didn’t care what the elders or anyone else told him. He spoke from his heart. And I think if a lot of the pastors get together, like the one race. I’m not involved with one race, but I, I hear great things about it.
Darius: [00:32:07] Get involved.
Joe: [00:32:08] Yeah. I agree. But every time y’all do something I’m doing something else. We’re getting involved though. But you know, it’s, it’s, I think if you can take that movement of one race. It can always go bigger and people will draw to it. I mean, I got friends that is drawn to it
and their pastors and their friends, and, you know, and it’s like, Joe this is something that we all need. Like I said, I want to see what it’s going to be like six months from now and a year from now. We have to take a stand because you know, the church is more powerful than we think.
Darius: [00:32:44] I would definitely agree with, agree with you, Joe. I do think the church, has to do more, needs to do more. I also think along with that, one of the things that I’m saying is, the church, as far as the people, we all understand that the church is not a building. A lot of our representatives are in churches and a lot of our city leaders, they’re in churches. Yeah, there’s this aspect that, I was downtown during the one race and I walked, I was walking out and a lady stopped me because she had stopped a group of our members and they were having this discussion, pretty heated discussion. It wasn’t necessarily outlandish, but it was heated. And the lady was asking, where are the churches? Where are the people? And the people are trying to explain to her, we are the church, we’re out here. And she said well, I don’t see this name, preacher. I don’t see this, I don’t see this name preacher. And so the people called me over and they said, well, here’s our pastor and called me over. And she says, well, where are the other pastors? And I said, well, I’m one of the pastors I’m here. And she said, well, we need the church out here. And I said to her, the church is out here. And I, and one of the things that I would say is that we can’t despise small beginnings. I think that this is a small beginning to something that needs to happen. Black churches for hundreds of years, we’ve been on this issue and we have not been solid, so to speak, as a black man. Right now, what I’m saying is the white, moderate churches like Dr. King spoke about in the Birmingham, Birmingham jail. They’re beginning to come alongside. I feel like we’ve got a do over, and this is the opportunity for people to rise and be on the right side of history, be on the right side of history. And so I think it’s very important, that as we look at what the church is doing, we see the one race. We see the Victory church. We see Peachtree Corners church. We see those churches, Perimeter church. Well, we also have to recognize that a lot of the movement that is happening is happening because the people who are in the church are getting outside of the church and sitting in circles like this. And so, the church is bigger than the four walls. And I do think as an organization, it is important for us to, to present a united front. But I would also say, as I’m looking across, I see a lot of movement happening from people, who are sitting in the pews on Sunday, going out into the world on Monday through Saturday.
Rico: [00:35:38] Let me ask you something Darius. The, you know, like you said, the church is not a building. You have Sunday school teachers, you have the men’s group, the women’s group, they meet outside the church. They do other things. I mean, you have a variety of people that build that church that are there. So I get what you’re saying. When you, when you say, when you, when people say the church is here, cause it, it is the people that make it up, right. It’s not just the pastor, people will follow the pastor if the pastor’s good, right? Or multiple pastors in the church. But what I’m, what I’m looking at too, is there are people that don’t belong to church or as Andy Stanley likes to put in, I love his preaching, the church for the unchurched, if you will, right? So you have people that don’t go to church that, that might go once in a while. That looked like me, right. White, maybe middle-class whatever. And they look at what’s going on and all, and I’ll just, can I be real here? You know, I’ve had lots of friends in Brooklyn where I
grew up that were African American, that were Asian. I mean, they weren’t always in my community though. Because the community I lived in was Italian, Jewish. As I grew up and that was, that was the enclave of what that was. But when I went to school, when I went to high school, when I went to city college, my world blew up if you will, right. Got exposed to a lot of different cultures, a lot of different people. But I think what’s happening now is that for the black community that has gone through this for, hundreds of years, churches for all this time, a lot of white people haven’t seen that, right? We’ve, we’ve learned history. Sure. But history, we’re not in the midst of it. My kids know about the sixties, the you know, the protests, the Vietnam war, how unjust that was for minorities, even that were conscripted, how white middle class families were able to get their kids out of being the draft. And those, those were things that happened. And working for Chuck Schumer for a year, doing constituent work when he was a Congressman, I got to learn, the stuff that happened in communities where, Schumer had a house. We have to be the middleman, if you will, to sort of work things in between tenants and landlords, where the tenants or the landlords were taken advantage of the tenants because of their color, maybe for other, for other reasons. Redlining, redlining was huge. I mean, that was something that, I mean, it was apparent. It took years for it to actually come to the, to the front, but having said all that. I think we, the people see the protests going on, see the riots going on for a while, seeing the looting that was going on. And I think when they saw the video of Floyd, I think most people, most anyone would say that was wrong, right? I’ve got to believe that most people look at that and say that was wrong. There’s no two ways about it. But I think that people out there are afraid too of changes. You know, it’s one thing taken down a Robert E. Lee statue, Hey, I’m from the North, take down all the Southern Confederate statues you want. I’m okay with that. But Christopher Columbus, you know, listen. I understand the history of the man. I’m not, I’m not, you know, yeah my grade school books didn’t quite give me the right history, right? Had to get into college and then get older to learn that. But some people looking at, into saying, you know, what, where do we stop? Does the Jefferson Memorial come down? Does the Washington monument come down? Do we blow up the Mount Rushmore, versus celebrating minority groups. Not just African Americans, but everyone, Latinos, Asians that have built this country. Put memorials up to them, put statues up to them. You know, we haven’t done that. I mean, and if we have, it’s been really small ways. I mean, we’re not celebrating where we should be. So I just had to put that out, that there are people that look at this and they don’t know what to do with it, I think. And they look at this and they’re afraid of what may go on. And they look at this and they don’t know how far it will go. Do they want justice for African Americans? I believe so. Well, I believe most people would, right? But so how do you address that? How do we go down that road because that’s where the road we have to go down, right?
Beth: [00:40:22] Rico, do you mind if I address that? You know, I’ve always disliked the arguments of where do we draw the line because the answer is always somewhere, right? And that line will change, you know, based on evolutions in society. So the line was different back in the 1920s, it was different in the 1970s and it’s different in the year 2020. You know, I can recall a conversation I had with some fellow legislators down at the Capitol last week. I started talking with one young white man and you know, he was, we started talking about some of the Confederate statues that adorn the Capitol grounds. And, you know, his general attitude was
like, well, you know, what harm are they really causing? And at that moment, I saw the chairman of the democratic party, a black man. Start walking towards us. And I asked him to join us. I said, James, come over here. I would like this young man to ask you a question. And so he did. The young white man asked the black man, okay, do these statues cause you harm? And his unequivocal answer was yes. Absolutely. That every single day he comes into work and has to pass by those statues. He knows what kind of message was being sent when they were first erected, which is, you know, this land belongs to a certain group of people and not to others. And that is exactly the message they were intended to convey. And they weren’t even erected after the civil war, they were erected almost, you know, almost 70 years later you know, as a response to the civil rights movement. And so, you know, the young white man was still a little bit defiant said, well, you know, shouldn’t we leave them up so that history won’t repeat itself? And my black friend, the chairman said, well, history is repeating itself just in, in different ways. And I just thought that was an incredibly profound statement of succinctly conveyed to the person who by the end of the conversation said that he was happy to engage in the conversation because he was trying to learn new perspectives. And I certainly learned some new perspectives that day, too. You know, and I added to the conversation that as a, as a white southerner, you know, the men portrayed in those statues, don’t represent my values either. No, I would rather, they not be there. And we have if we’re going to portray anyone, reevaluate where we draw that line in the year 2020, because it’s going to be somewhere and, you know, for anybody who would say, well, we’re going to draw the line here. We might as well draw it all the way to its extreme conclusions and blow up Stone Mountain and Mount Rushmore. It’s like, no, like the line’s going to be drawn somewhere. Let’s make sure that where we draw it in the year 2020, is reasonable.
Rico: [00:43:19] Well that conversation goes there. I mean, it’s going to go there. And it just no doubt people will look at that. And I’m not saying it shouldn’t and I’m not saying statues shouldn’t be taken down. I mean, some of them need to be taken down, I think, right? Or, certainly qualified, you know, what, where are they in history? Maybe they should be put in a museum. I don’t know. I don’t know the answers to everything. That’s why we’re having this conversation.
Karl: [00:43:43] It’s interesting, the discussion around statutes. And, and then I agree. I lived literally behind stone mountain for a time here in Atlanta, and I would ride my bike and hike up it everyday and see it and, and, understanding the history of stone mountain was, was interesting. But all the focus around the statues is, is important, but I’m also curious, can, is there a general passion for, equal justice? So the problem with the George Floyd’s, a bad thing happened in a man’s life died. There were the general consensus that without the tape, without protest, no justice would come from it. There’s too often when a reasonable person could look at a situation and say that was wrong. Someone acted incorrectly, a person’s life is taken and when you go to a court, you expect a fair treatment of it. If, if another black man took that life, he would be in jail, he would be arrested immediately. And that’s what I’m always curious to the question is when you see something like that, what should you do as a citizen? And I always say, well, I would pick up the phone and call 911. But am I making the problem worse in doing that or better in doing that? So there’s a lot of pushback against the police and people think that you have to be
for one or the other. I’m curious, how people could better understand there could be support of the police as well as support of black lives matter. And maybe some of that involves holding people accountable and others stepping in when they see danger happening. When they see someone getting out of hand, simply saying pause before you take this too far, let’s deescalate this. Let’s, let’s do something to have impact. I’m just curious your perception of why isn’t it, that more people can’t just do what a normal person of good conscious would do. What’s preventing them from doing that when it comes to, issues around racial justice.
Darius: [00:46:02] Karl, I want to speak into that question, but one of the things that you said, I feel like I would like to just clarify also, because oftentimes when I’m talking to people, they make the comment. Well, black people kill black people every day, you know? And the thing that I try to explain to them is that when a black man kills a black man, that black man goes to jail. This is not an issue that we’re talking about of murder. We’re talking about justice. And I think that’s, that’s one of the things that I find myself often clarifying. That if that had been a black man killing another black man, including a police officer, in some, some situations that we’ve seen, that they would have been in jail. And, and so when it comes to the disparity of sentencing or charges, or the swiftness of justice, it’s just such a large disparity. And so I just, I wanted to touch on that. Before we enter the rest of your question, because I feel like that’s a, that’s a big wall for some people to overcome. They don’t get it because they’re like, well, what about this person? Yeah, we hear that, but it’s not about the murder. It’s about the justice that happens afterwards. And that’s one of the big issues we have to understand.
Karl: [00:47:34] Very, very good point.
Joe: [00:47:37] I mean, it’s just like the fact that call is what was that? Four or five years ago when, the gentleman went into the church in South Carolina and shot all those people. When they caught him, the police caught him, they took him to McDonald’s to get a Big Mac meal before they took him to jail. Now, if that would have been a black man, they would have beat him up pretty bad. That’s just, that’s just true like Darius said there’s, there’s a difference between, you know, a black and a white when it comes to the police. And I, I have a good relationship with the Gwinnett County police. You know, I feel safe in Gwinnett because of the people I know. But outside of Gwinnett, Hey, you know, we canceled a trip to St. Simon’s a couple of weeks ago because I didn’t want to drive through Brunswick, Georgia. So, I mean, you know, there’s, God gives everybody the knowledge to know better. I knew better than to go to St. Simon’s a couple of weeks ago, because I didn’t feel like going through any kind of drama, you know? And so, you know, things are, it’s definitely a difference between being arrested by, you know, if a black man killed somebody, he goes straight to jail. But if a white person do it, they take him to burger King or McDonald’s before they take them to jail. Now, you know, how is that right? You know, but you know, we have to overcome, you know, we have to be, we all have to, we’re all in this together. You know, my daddy used to always say, you know, everybody bleeds red. But we just gotta get past the color of the skin. And remember we were all made in God’s image. And that’s the thing. I think that’s the problem that people are having, you know.
Karl: [00:49:25] So that’s part of the question is, you know, there’s the why, but what can people do? What if people want to do something, change a behavior? Are there things that you think can start people on that journey moving toward action.
Darius: [00:49:41] I would say one action is to call representative Beth Moore. I do think that’s a big part of it. I think calling your, your local representative, I think even your, your city Councilman, all of those things are a part of it, and I think those are steps of action. I think after you march, after you protest, you have to get in and talk to the people who make the actual, makes the laws and help change the culture. First of all of your local community, but then at a greater scale, the nation. So talking to people, who make decisions, talking to the chief of police, and finding out, you know, where they stand on some of the reform that, you know, That was, that happened under the, some reform happened under the Obama administration, but then some of that was rolled back. I’m just saying some of those conversations we need to take and have the right conversations with the right people to see where they stand. So that in every cycle, when we’re voting, we can elect the right people who are on the right side of history.
Karl: [00:50:49] There, you mentioned a little bit of, if I could expound eight can’t wait Campaign Zero is an organization where they’ve conducted research and came up with recommendations for police law enforcement departments, eight policies that they could implement that has been proven to help reduce the amount of use of excessive force and the death of black citizens at the hands of law enforcement, including, they talk about no choke hold. They talk about citizen review board. They’re talking about accountability, keeping records and metrics on, on the use of force as well as the obligation or the requirement to intervene should they see somebody’s life in danger. These are things that are out there. I couldn’t tell you. I’m not, I’m not educated enough to know how much of those are implemented in Gwinnett or various police stations around the local area here, but people can go and ask the question they can ask and demand to understand. We’d love to know the plan. If it’s been implemented great, tell us, how’s it going? If it hasn’t, is there a plan to implement? And if there, if there’s no intent to implement, tell us why. If you think choke holds are necessary to protect or just explain to the citizens, you know why that is and how you’re going to control the proper use of it and train people. But those are some of the things that people could do is to start holding leaders accountable. And asking the questions of them that deserve answer and discussion.
Beth: [00:52:23] Well, since we’re talking about policy, that’s my area, I’d be happy to jump in. And I am familiar with the, the eight can’t wait platform. As a member of the Georgia house democratic caucus, we came up with a legislative agenda that we call Justice For All. And it was 12 specific proposals. But I’ll, I’ll highlight a few that we can talk about for today’s purposes. Number one on the list was to, when we went back to the session on June 15th was to prioritize the passage of hate crimes bill. Georgia was one of only four States in the entire country that did not have a hate crimes bill on the books. And to clarify what that means, hate crimes bill is a penalty enhancement for biased, motivated crimes. So there has to be an underlying crime. But if it turns out that this crime was motivated by hatred, towards the victims immutable
characteristic, whether, their, their race, gender, religion. A whole litany of, of, of criteria that a prosecutor could ask for penalty enhancement. Because let’s face it when you are indiscriminately targeting people based on, for example, their race. That puts everybody who fits within that racial category at risk of also being a victim. Which is, you know, any crime is, is scary to be the victim of, but when it’s something that you can’t do anything to fix or prevent that’s, that’s terrifying for the entire community. So I was very pleased to, that we were able to get the vocal support of the speaker of the house. You know, back in 2019, the state house, the chamber in which I serve, we did pass a hate crimes bill. But the Senate never passed it. And the governor at the time didn’t really seem all that interested in it. Well, after the Ahmaud Arbery situation, as well as George Floyd, the governor signaled that he would be, he would be interested in, in revisiting that possibility. And we did in fact, pass a hate crimes bill this month in, in, June, 2020, and the governor immediately signed it into law. So that’s progress. That’s a, you know, I did, before I continue, I did want to, take a moment to thank Derius and his church in the one race movement that has organized around racial injustice in society, because quite frankly, that that put, took a lot of pressure off of legislators to find a quick fix to some of these issues. I will be the first to say that passing a hate crimes bill is not going to prevent hate crimes. I mean, you know, that’s, that’s the purview of, of society and the church in terms of changing hearts and minds out in the community, but as a legislator, I take it, I have made it my priority to make sure that at least our laws reflect some kind of equity when it comes to, to achieving racial justice. And we do that one bill at a time, basically. Some of the other proposals that we had put forth, for example, one of the bills that I was a cosponsor of when we went back to session recently, was to create a district attorney oversight committee and lots of people including myself a couple months ago did not know that if you have a bad or a rogue district attorney, who’s tasked with prosecuting crimes in their jurisdiction. If they’re not doing a good job, there’s nothing you can do. You know, you’ll just have to wait and vote them out next election cycle but that might, that opportunity might not happen for, you know, anywhere from two to four years. Whereas compare that to, the, you know, the oversight committee that reviews judges. You know, if a judge is not acting properly or is maybe declining in mental health, there’s a committee in place to remove them if warranted. There was no, no equal procedure for district attorneys. And we got a lot of support for that bill, it did not pass this time around, but that’s something that I look forward to continuing to advocate for when we go back. Lots of other things on that list, for example, ending the use of choke holds, ending the use of no knock warrants, which are, is something that is applied on a, on a discreetly racial basis. Ending the use of citizens arrest, which was used as a reason, not to arrest the killers of Ahmaud Arbery down in Brunswick. You know, the repeal of stand your ground, that particular one probably requires a little more explanation. A lot of people think that means that you can’t defend your home. That is not what that means. There’s I would not advocate for the repeal of any kind of castle doctrine that allows you to defend yourself in your home. But if you go out and you pick a fight with somebody and they fight back, you have a duty to retreat, as opposed to using excessive force in that case, that is what the repeal of stand your ground means. There’s a whole lot more that the democratic caucus has proposed. We’ll continue to fight for those policies.
Karl: [00:57:37] What can folks do to, if they want to learn more and want to get involved and express their wishes? How can folks, what are some of the right ways to do that?
Beth: [00:57:49] In terms of, effective advocacy of your elected officials. There are a couple of things. Number one, obviously is go vote, right? And don’t just vote. Be a voter. Being a voter means that you have researched the candidates. You have researched the issues and what each candidate stands for. That you understand what role they play, if and when that person does get elected. You know, and furthermore, it means that you hold elected officials accountable in between elections. That is a duty and a privilege that we have been granted as American citizens operating within a citizen led democracy. So number one, vote, number two, show up to community meetings. You know, if you’ve ever been to a Peachtree Corners city council meeting. They’re pretty bare, nobody’s there. And, and not only the, the public meetings, but also the working sessions, right? You know, and if you don’t have to stretch yourself too thin, pick one and stick with it, you know, whether it’s city council or attending your County commission meetings or showing up at the legislature. You know, showing up to other types of public meetings that are, that are crafted in order to serve your interests. You know, the school board meetings, election board meetings, these sorts of things are happening all of the time. And we need citizens in the room, holding these officials accountable. Beyond that, you know, I can tell you as an elected official myself, that some of the most effective advocacy that I receive are when people email me, because I do read every single email that I receive. And my office tries very hard to make sure to reply to every email. The one exception that we make as if, if you’re using one of those sites that sends just mass non-personalized email that clearly come from some kind of bot. I don’t typically bother with those because that’s just very low energy type of advocacy. But if I receive a personalized email saying, Hey, my name is so and so I live in your district. You can provide an address for me to confirm it. Then I will, that, that email will receive high priority from me because I am answerable to my constituency through emails, phone calls is, is, probably the next best way although sometimes phone calls and voice messages get, get lost in the fray. Last year I received exactly eight handwritten letters to my office, which is quite a treat in a world where we don’t often receive personalized handwritten letters anymore. And then of course, my folks know that they can always reach me through Facebook. And I’m starting to get a little bit better at Twitter and I have an Instagram account too, but you know, every, every elected official has some means to receive input from the community and, you know, whichever particular elected official you’re targeting, find their information, contact them, stay in touch with them, let them know who you are, and you should get to know who they are as well.
Karl: [01:00:57] Can I add one more to that? I think there are good people out there with amazing talents in leadership and otherwise. Another way you can get involved is to run for office. Whether it’s city council, participate in government, get involved. If you’ve got talents for leadership, if you’ve got passion, sometimes especially in these times, it’s easier to sit on the sidelines. And to watch and wait for someone else to take care and to do it. But sometimes stepping up and starting in small ways might be one of the most effective ways to affect the chain. Joe what about you? Any advice?
Rico: [01:01:42] Joe? Are you going to run again?
Joe: [01:01:47] Well, you know, Rico, it was only 15 votes in the runoff and I tell people, citizen Joe, will be back in 2021. So I’m looking forward to it. You know, we’ll be missing Steve Cohen, you know, he passed away. But we are looking for a new manager and I have a couple of people, but yeah, citizen Joe is getting very excited right now. And you know, we’ve got another year.
Karl: [01:02:13] What office is that Joe?
Joe: [01:02:15] Peachtree Corners, post four. So if they didn’t know, they know now since it’s on the podcast, so yeah, for the city council. And, you know, and like Beth says, you know, I do go to those city council meetings and it gets lonely because there’s no one there. You know, and I’ve had, you know, I talked to some of the people in this area, especially on the South side of town. And the first thing they say is, you know, those people over there don’t care about us. And I said, you know, put somebody in there that does. So you got to get out and vote. 15 votes is nothing.
Karl: [01:02:48] But I could share something that a mentor of mine once told me. We were talking about diversity in corporate America and how to drive that in, in higher levels of leadership. And he implemented a practice with his team where before he would interview for any director or above level position, if the slate wasn’t diverse, he rejected the slate because often it’s comfortable and easy. Just say these are three candidates. I’m going to pick one of these three candidates for the job. But if the slate isn’t diverse, he said we won’t start the interview process, which forced HR and others to bring more voices to the table to be considered for those positions. So, I think everyone could take a look at if you see which voice is missing at the table and you want to affect change, do something about it.
Joe: [01:03:41] Yes, sir.
Karl: [01:03:43] Darius, any thoughts from you on, on things that people can do practically to, to really impact change when it comes to racial justice in the church or outside?
Darius: [01:03:52] Yeah, I think, I would just kinda come off your last point, Karl. Again, I think for you know, policy is not going to necessarily change the heart. I think though it can definitely create a boundary, create great boundaries for a safer America for black people. And I do believe it’s a part of it. Because some things by habit, people are just birthed into some of the social injustice. But I would say again, I think on a very simple level, I’m talking just to the common person who doesn’t know what to do. Here’s the thing you have to change your circle. And I would just continue to, continue to say that. You have to not only listen to one news station, you have to go on the other side and you have to hear what other people are saying. But most importantly, invite people into your circle that are different than you, people of color
need to be in your circle. And I would say to people of color, if the only people around you are black people, then you have to reach across the line. And so I would just say it from that perspective, that’s one of the things that we champion all the time. And so you’ve, talked a lot about the things that we can do practically when it concerns local government. But I would just add that piece from a very human level, love your neighbor. That means talking to the people that are right around you. In your supermarket, in your neighborhood, where you are, giving people a chance and giving yourself a chance to understand people. And so that’s what I would add to that.
Karl: [01:05:34] If I could also build on that, that can translate also to social platforms like next door. Love your neighbor a little bit more when folks express views and issues. And even there’s that practice of, I saw a suspicious person in the neighborhood on next door, which then triggers off a whole lot of scrambling. You know, the question you’ve got to ask is what made that person suspicious? And if it wasn’t an action and/or a behavior that makes someone suspicious, you’ve got to look at your biases. That’s fallen in there. And social media is a powerful mechanism to create a lot of harm. If people aren’t more cautious with what they say. When you’re in front of a person or what you post when you’re online. And my media expert Rico, I wonder from your perspective, first, I want to, I want us to mention one thing, when it comes to stepping up, when I first, moved into the area of Peachtree Corners Life Podcast was one of the only platforms where you can find out what was going on locally, whether it was a city council and others. And, I don’t know if everybody knows, but you started that as a labor of love and just because you thought it needed to be done. And that’s a great example of stepping up and doing something and creating a platform where dialogue like this can happen. So I just want to know that you’re appreciated and recognized for doing that. And for all that you do in the community, whether the people get to tell it to you with face to face or not.
Rico: [01:07:11] Thanks, Karl. I appreciate that. You’re right, though there was a labor of love because I wasn’t making any money off it. And I keep telling my wife, I don’t play golf. This is what I do. And I’ve been doing it for, I think almost four years now. So, and, and talking about getting out of comfort zone, you get to meet a lot of different people. I choose a lot of the interviews and then people also come back to me like Joe, I think we’ve, I’ve interviewed you before on here. Keybo Taylor recently, diverse people from all walks of life. So I do get an opportunity to see a lot of stories and to hear a lot of things. So which is good for me, magazine does that as well, too. So Peachtree Corners Magazine, I get to tell, I get to direct what to tell about other stories in Peachtree Corners. So all good things and you know, Darius is correct. You should go out and out of your comfort zone. I don’t just listen to CNN or Fox News. I, BBC. I mean, I go out and I, not only to, I read a lot, but I listen to a variety of places. Cause you have to. And it’s in an interesting, You can look at CNN and Fox news the same day, same night, and totally different stories. Totally different stories. I’m like, you know, who’s reporting the news. Forget about reporting. You almost think they report, but I don’t get it because it feels like I am living in two worlds. And I’m not sure which one is real. Karl: [01:08:38] The fun game you could play Rico on that. Some cable channels they have the news mix channel. Where it shows multiple news stories. And you could just toggle between
different ones, same exact story reporting. And you’ll hear at least three different views. I love the European view, how others see us. That’s some of the most fascinating insight.
Rico: [01:09:00] And that’s why I listen to BBC, sometimes. We can BBC Europe, not BBC America, just to see what they’re saying about the crazy people in America sometimes. But, so it’s yeah, it’s a good place to be. I come out of politics and business background. And, you know, the world has changed over this period of time, but it’s not going to change enough. And I fear we will take much longer to change these other things. It’s going to take generations. So this is really the beginning of where it needs to go. Or the second reset, I think like Darius said before. Another opportunity to maybe do it right. It’s going to be a long road. I fear.
Karl: [01:09:44] Absolutely. And I’m hopeful that there is another generation coming that’s impatient with the status quo. So whether we want to change or not, it’s going to change because, the younger generations didn’t grow up in the 1960s and 50s. And so they have a different take on the world and they’re, they’re going to drive us all to change one way or the other. Well, we’ve come to the, to, to a little bit over an hour and, and wanted to thank, Joe Sawyer for, for joining us today. I want to thank you for sharing your heart, sharing your stories with us. Representative Beth Moore. Thank you so much for continuing to do what you do to help drive the agenda down at the Capitol and, and, and help the citizens of the community, be heard and, and, and help drive and be a leader in the community to help drive change. Whether it’s social, racial justice or, or many other things that you’re, that you’re helping pass. And Darius, thank you and the work of your entire community at Victory. What you do in the community, what Victory does in the community, what you do personally. We appreciate that and thank you for participating in this ongoing discussion. We’re not going to stop here. We’re going to, we’re going to do another one on Thursday at two o’clock. We’re going to bring some more people on and we’re going to continue this conversation. If there’s one thing we can prove that people from different backgrounds, people from different perspectives can come and sit down and have a discussion. It’s not that hard. If we could do it, you could do it in your home. You can do it in your church in your discipleship group. You could do it in your community. You can do it in your gym. But have the discussion, reach, gain understanding, listen for understanding. And when you start to formulate what you think that future could look like, take an action. Write a letter, run for office, join a committee, make your voice heard, vote. There’s things you can do and I’ll spend I’ll, I’ll share a special challenge to those that are in leadership positions in business, in the community, in nonprofits, in the schools. You have a very unique role to impact those you lead and the communities that you’re in. And so if you’re for black lives matter, if you’re for racial justice, if you’re for something, speak on it, where you put your time and money tells us what’s important to you. So that’s the challenge I throw out there to all leaders. Thank you.
Rico: [01:12:25] Thank you,
Karl: [01:12:26] Karl.
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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