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Elections and Politics

Michael Corbin: A Personal Calling to Run for Congress

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Why is Michael Corbin running for the U.S. Congress (GA District 7)? Who is he, why is he passionate about his community, and what issues are his top priorities. Rico Figliolini talks with Michael about his run as a Republican, term limits, inflation, immigration, and COVID-19.

Resources:
Website: https://www.corbin4congress.com
Twitter: @Corbin4Congress
Term Limits Amendment: https://www.termlimits.com

Timestamp:
[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:01:42] – Why Michael is Running
[00:06:11] – Term Limits
[00:10:35] – Countering Inflation Rates
[00:21:59] – Immigration Issues
[00:29:05] – Moving Forward from COVID
[00:36:30] – COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates
[00:38:48] – Quick Questions
[00:42:49] – Closing

“The biggest thing for me is that I just have a lot of pride and passion in our city, our state, and even more so locally in this community. I’ve spent my entire life here pretty much, since 1992. I was 14 years old. And I don’t plan on going anywhere. My purpose to get into politics is to just make change… I’m doing this because I really, truly care about our country. I truly care about this district and want to make change.”

Michael Corbin

Podcast Transcript:

[00:00:30] Rico: Hi everyone this is Rico Figliolini, host of Peachtree Corners Life and publisher of Peachtree Corners Magazine. Which I hope you’re getting in the mail. We mail every single household in the city of Peachtree Corners, so certainly if you’re not getting it, let me know. But this show is a special show that we’re doing this evening, depending on when you’re listening to this. We’re recording it live and the candidate that I’m speaking to is a candidate that’s running for Congress, for Georgia House Seat Number Seven. He attended Duluth High School, UGA. He’s a member of Peachtree Corners Baptist Church. He’s lived here in Peachtree Corners for a while as well. Hailing originally I guess, from Ohio, if I’m not mistaken. But we’ll introduce him, we’ll talk to him. Tonight is about the issues, is about his passion for running, why he’s choosing to run and what issues are dear to him. So let’s bring on Michael. How are you?

[00:01:20] Michael: Doing good Rico. I appreciate the time and being on here and I do get the magazine and read it. I like it. It’s usually very nice content and pertinent to Peachtree Corners. So, really good publication.

[00:01:32] Rico: I appreciate that. Trying to keep everything relevant to the city of Peachtree Corners, as much as we can. I don’t think I’ll ever run out of stories to tell about this city.

[00:01:40] Michael: Yeah, we’ll keep growing.

[00:01:42] Rico: Yeah, for sure. So let’s get right into it. You want to run for Congress. Not State House, not Mayor of the city, but for Congress. A national platform. Tell us why you’re choosing to do that? And you’re going to be running obviously well, not obvious, but for those that don’t know, in the Republican Primary that happens next year. So we’re early on in the process, but not for a candidate that wants to run for office. You’re going to have to start now to be able to get that headwind going into May of next year for the primary. So tell us why you are choosing to run and tell us why you’re passionate about it.

[00:02:19] Michael: You know, it was really kind of a personal calling that came upon me. And one of the things, and we’ll get into this a little bit later, is something that I see is a disease in our political establishment. And that’s what I would call a career politician. Everybody’s always complaining, we never really get anything done. And the reason why is because of career politicians. And it leads to a lot of divisiveness. It leads to what people call the establishment, on both sides. And it’s a lot of just party bickering. And, you know, I say you’ve got to cut the cancer out and then treat it. Our forefathers never intended it to really be this way. It was for citizens to represent their constituencies. Take a moment out of time of their private life to do so, and then go back. Unfortunately there was nothing put into writing to limit that. And people now use that as, really kind of a power grab. And it’s becoming a problem where we can’t get anything done and everything is really revolving around pride and not really pushing our country forward. I’m obviously a first time candidate going into this and not starting at the small level, at the city council level or anything like that, you know. Kind of going at it and whether win or lose, I always say you either win or you learn something in the process here. But I’m passionate about trying to make a change. It’s not something I need to do in life, but I’m passionate about this community. I’ve lived here since 1992. Did move here from Ohio. And went to Duluth high school, went to University of Georgia. After that, moved back here. I’ve lived my entire professional career in the Atlanta Metro market area. And specifically within this district. I care a lot about the district. I’ve seen it grow. I’ve seen it change over the years in a lot of good ways. And I think that our leadership should represent that change. That’s why I’m running. I really just want to see change and people that want to get into government to make change and then get out.

[00:04:18] Rico: Do you find that there is, politics is very different from what it was before. There was a bit more willingness to compromise on issues versus being the extreme on issues. And we find that in our media too, between CNN and Fox news, they’re both two extreme. I could be looking at both of them, which I do on occasion, and I’ll be looking at one and the other will be like, is today the right day? Why is one covering one thing and the other one covering something totally different, maybe. So do you find that on both sides of the aisle, do you find that issue that people are not doing what they should be doing on both sides of the aisle. We’re a two-party system at this point, so there is the two sides. Do you find that in both parties?

[00:04:58] Michael: Absolutely. I mean I think, when it comes to media, it’s about ratings and getting that viewership and the money. When it comes to the different sides of the house, whether it’s Democrat or Republican, they’re both always constantly interviewing for their job. They’re always trying to get as much money as they can for the next election. They’re always trying to push their agenda because they can. And a lot of times those agendas are going to be completely polarizing from the other side of the house. You’re always going to get that both ends of the spectrum. And it seems like that gap is getting wider and wider when you look at the people that represent America. But when we’re living our daily life, I don’t see that in the citizens of this country. I see that in the government. And I see the government and the media really fueling that polarization of our country. Just walking around, talking to people, living in the world, you see less of that polarization than you do actually in our government. Who are supposed to be our leaders and our media who are supposed to be reporting accurate news. You know, it’s a little bit, I would say disappointing, because those are the people that are supposed to be looking out for the best interest. And I almost think that the citizens actually have a better idea of how things should actually go.

[00:06:11] Rico: Yeah, it sad to see that. That the news, Fox news, CNN, those are the two major cable news now. People don’t digest the news the way I do maybe, or the way you do. I might have it on in the background even for like hours versus people might see it for 10, 15 minutes. There’s no such thing as what there used to be, you know, anchor news. Now they’re just talking heads, opinions. Bringing on other people that might have opinions. So yeah, a variety of positions and sometimes like anything, facts can be construed into any which way you want to use it, right? Statistics are the same way. You can look at one stat versus another stat and what’s more important and how you interpret it. Those are the things I come across. Now, I know you want to change things. I know one of your biggest issues is term limits. I believe you want three terms for Congress and two terms for the Senate.

[00:07:04] Michael: Yeah. And there’s a group out there, www.termlimits.com. I’ve signed the pledge. There’s been a lot of other current representatives in Senate and House. Ted Cruz, a lot of other people that have signed it which is promising, to really put guardrails around it. You know, right now there are no term limits. It’s almost, I wouldn’t say impossible, but unless there’s a vacancy, someone says I’m just done. Nobody really runs. Because the incumbent wins, I want to say 94% of the time. The statistics are pretty overwhelming when it comes to that and it’s just tough, right? It’s tough to unseat people that are incumbents. They’ve got the name recognition. They’ve got the political backing, the financial backing. And they don’t have to leave until they want to leave.

[00:07:50] Rico: And they bring home the bacon, if you will. If they can take care of the constituents, whether the companies or organizations or non-profits, if they can bring those grants and that money to the congressional district, who’s going to argue that to a degree, right?

[00:08:06] Michael: Yeah, exactly. And a lot of them along the way, I wouldn’t say all representatives whether it’s Congress or Senate. They’re cut from a certain cloth and they get out of being a lawyer or doctor and they get into politics and a lot of times it’s to stay there as long as they can to make connections so they can improve their personal wealth. It’s more pride and power over really virtue and doing the right things. That’s why, I just constantly see that nothing gets done, right? It’s all about winning, like we’re playing a football game. Hey, who’s going to have the majority who’s going to get, and it’s not really ever about like, well, what’s going to be the best thing for our country? And I think it all stems back to the people that just don’t want to get out of Congress. They don’t want to get out of the Senate. I mean, look at, Joe Biden. You know what, 40 plus years in government? So you know, that there’s a problem when it gets to that point, it’s time to step down. So, and Joe Biden not pick on there’s lots of people that are like that.

[00:09:04] Rico: No for sure. And you have, even when you have term limits sometimes, I think it was Mayor Bloomberg was supposed to have in New York city, I think three terms was supposed to be his max, but he had the city council change the rules. So this way can run for another term. Because I guess he felt he didn’t have enough time to do what he wanted to do, his agenda. And he got a lot of things done. And maybe that was good, but at some point, if you had three terms in Congress, but you weren’t able to accomplish everything you wanted, but you’d have to leave. Would that be a good thing?

[00:09:37] Michael: I think some of that you have to put the onus on yourself, right? How motivated were you to try to get the things accomplished for your constituency first and then your country. Because there’s some people that just aren’t that motivated, they just want to get in there, to be able to solidify their name recognitions when they get out, they’re making more money. So if you really want to get things done and you’ve got a shorter time span, you’re going to be a lot more motivated to get it done. And the ones that aren’t, there’ll be weeded out pretty quickly. But yeah, if you don’t get everything accomplished, anytime there’s unfinished business, I think it pulls at your heart strings. But sometimes, your will is going to be trumped by God’s will. And I believe that. And you just have to have patience and understanding. But yeah, I think anybody that serves that term and doesn’t finish everything that they want, not to use a Mark Richt euphemism, but finish the drill. If you don’t finish the drill, you may feel something or some way, but I still think it’s better that way. I think people are going to be more motivated to get things done based on serving the people than serving themselves.

[00:10:35] Rico: It’s too bad that I don’t see that passing anytime soon. And so it’s not the same level playing field, unfortunately. People will leave because they want to keep to that term limit, but then there’ll be others there that will stay there 20, 30 years. And no doubt, like you said, once you’re an incumbent, the odd’s are actually north of about 87% remaining in their incumbency because they not only control the process if you will, to a degree, but because most people are not motivated to vote them out. You really have to have a really diehard reason to get those voters out, sometimes in certain districts. Especially the way the lines are drawn sometimes. A Republican will stay a Republican seat. The Democratic will stay a Democratic seat. This district, Georgia Seven, is changing. The demographics have changed over the last decade. Which is why I believe, Carolyn Bourdeaux was able to win along with some other aspects to it. But the demographics are changing a bit, the politics are changing. Do you find that this might be an uphill battle to get there? Or do you think you have that chance to be able to get that seat?

[00:11:44] Michael: I would say it’s definitely an uphill battle for Republicans. I mean, a lot of times, you know, the ebbs and flows come with what’s going on at large with the country. Some people might just be so upset because they’re looking at okay, Atlanta, for instance, we lead all metro markets in the country and inflation rate about almost 8% right now. So there may be some people that are just so fed up they’re just like, Carolyn, I don’t care. You’re done. I need something new. But a lot of times people just go to the ballot and they’re okay, Carolyn Bourdeaux, I know that name, incumbent, they just check the box. So you have to be able to find some of those swing voters, which I think are getting more and more narrow. If you look at the district map, since 1990, it has gone from red to just blue, blue, blue, blue. But the demographics of our county have changed and that’s just the way it is. You know, you have to be able to change with that. It was a Rich McCormick who ran last time. I don’t know if he’s even going to try to run this time because there’s not an open seat. It’s one of those things where if you’re not really appealing to some of those people that are independents, maybe swing votes, you’re just going to lose. In this district, at least. You’re going to lose.

[00:12:48] Rico: For sure. I think moderate versus extreme is probably the best place to be. So let’s talk a little bit more directly on the issues. You touched on inflation, so let’s talk a little bit about that. What that means to residents of this district. Inflation is topping over 8%. And it’s been steady. I think the last five months has shown a steady increase in inflation rate. Some people say that’s the supply chain. Some people are saying that’s the wage that’s pressuring up prices. And that it’s short term. And then some companies are saying, no, this is the new norm. We’re going to be seeing this. Not enough employment, the rate’s going to be going higher. Inflation is going to be going on. Where do you see that? And what do you see as a good way to counter that?

[00:13:33] Michael: I think a lot of the damage has been done, unfortunately. And I think it’s a perfect storm. You had COVID. And there was a relief that needed to happen, there were people out of jobs. I do volunteer at a organization here in the Norcross area and saw firsthand how many people were in the food line and needed help. And I think that relief was really needed, but you know, over time it’s kind of weaned off a little bit. But I think, as the political machine goes, that’s how you buy votes, right? Let’s continue pumping that money back into, the economy artificially. And that was just passed again. There’s a lot of that going on, with new entitlement programs and the new Build Back Better plan. Trillion dollar infrastructure plan that was passed. So I don’t see a whole, I mean, I think we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg. If right now we’re at, 8% here in Atlanta. Workforces still stagnant in terms of, new jobs are out there, but people just aren’t taking them. And it’s, it’s in, specific sectors. Mostly the service industry. But you know, at a certain point, people have to work. If you’re just pumping money into the economy and people are spending, but not working, you’re raising the wage. When eventually people go back to work and they’re making more money. And you’ve already put more money into the, into the economy. The cost of goods are just going to go up. That’s just simple math. Personally in my corporate life, I see it firsthand. And the lack of workforce when it comes to labor, raw material there’s major shortages. 20, 30% in some material that, in at least in my industry. Telecoms, copper, fiber, all the electronic chips. We’re looking at, from what I’ve been seeing from a lot of our large distributors, two years till we get back to where we were. That’s just in industry. On top of that, just, you know, labor. The actual engineers and technicians that, were maybe not high end engineers that got furloughed are now not going back to work. Cause they’re making just as much money on assistance. A lot of that’s gone away, so that may change. It’s been kind of a perfect storm. It’s been a tough year because a lot of businesses want to get back to business, but they can’t get anything and they can’t get a workforce going. So, you know, it all kind of ties into inflation and just really making a tough, I would say, economy and workforce.

[00:15:48] Rico: Isn’t that interesting? I mean, people were furloughed or people were working remotely. And they want to still work remotely. So maybe the company wants them to come back. Maybe they don’t want to go back. I’m seeing more companies doing hybrid type jobs where it’s, you know, where, when you can. Certain jobs, you can’t. Obviously restaurants and other areas. Manufacturing, you can’t do it that way. But service jobs as far as like, IT work and marketing and graphic design work and other things can be done remotely. So I’m seeing companies doing two days in the office, three days out. I don’t know if that’s going to change anytime soon. That might. That’s affecting commercial buildings, rentals and all that. You know, people are still, I mean, you look in this area, it’s almost a hundred percent occupied, the apartment buildings. So those are doing well. People are paying their rent at this point. And unemployment subsidies has been gone for what, two months now? Three months?

[00:16:43] Michael: Yes. I think it was like end of August.

[00:16:45] Rico: So it’s been gone already. And if you look at the national statistics of what a typical household income or savings where people are only month to month, with their savings. I don’t understand how they’re paying the bills, then without that subsidy, without taking a job. And there’s plenty of jobs out there it seems. Certainly in certain sectors anyway, and even the high end, even in your sector, do you find that you’re not able to fill the jobs within your company, within your sector of the business?

[00:17:15] Michael: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s become, you know, really just a job market for anybody seeking a job. It’s a playground, right? There’s so many jobs out there, they call it the great resignation right now. You know, there’re just people just leaving jobs because they can to get a higher salary because people are desperate to hire them. Now it’s not as dire is the service industry. And people are still working. But yeah, with the amount of jobs posted versus how to get them filled is very difficult. There’s demands. I want to work at home a hundred percent. Full-time right. When you had never even been part of the industry, it’s like, how do you get trained? You know? So there are a lot of factors that go into it. But it’s a tough time when it comes to that. I think eventually it’s going to turn back around. I just don’t know when that’s going to happen. I think, passing that spending bill is going to keep people waiting around to see, okay what’s next? What is going to be given out which is just going to prolong the cycle. And unfortunately, when it ties back into inflation, when you’re working let’s just look at 8% and in the Atlanta market, how many people’s income is going up 8%? It’s not. You’re having to cut back in some areas. You’re not able to save if you’ve got kids for college. And that 8%, year over year of it keeps going up higher, you have to make sacrifices. And you know, for middle-class Americans that may not be major sacrifices, but you’re making sacrifices for your family, in terms of being able to save for the future, do some of the things that you wanted to do. Hopefully there becomes a time where that does end, but the passing of that bill I feel may have thrown some fuel on the fire. We’ll see.

[00:18:52] Rico: Yeah. There was a lot of stuff in that bill. I mean, a lot of good stuff, I thought.

[00:18:55] Michael: Yeah.

[00:18:56] Rico: And it dealt with broadband expansion of that. Helping with EV, the EV market, the electric vehicle market, to a degree. There was a lot of good stuff in there. You know, obviously this type of bill when you’re talking a trillion dollars, which no one could get really their head wrapped around. Saying what a trillion dollars is, right? Nevermind a million dollars and how you spend that. So supply chain, jobs, inflation. What would you have done different in a bill like that? And in a trillion dollar bill, if you were able to put it together, what would you have done different there? What would you have taken out? What would you have added that may not be there?

[00:19:35] Michael: Yeah, I mean, it’s still, and I feel like it’s kind of a mystery, cause it seems like there’s a lot of Republicans, even Democrats that don’t know exactly what’s in it. There’s a lot of things that are earmarked. When it comes to things like rural broadband, I think that’s something that needs to happen. Being in the telecommunication industry, it’s very expensive. A lot of telecom companies get a lot of heat saying, why are you not building out fiber? Well, nobody really knows how much that costs to trench, dig, pull fiber past 10 houses over 50 miles. Like you’re never going to get your return on investment. So why do you think they’re not doing it? So the money’s got to come from somewhere to help those companies build out that fiber and not just take a massive loss. You know, things like that are very important. Roads, bridges. But I think when you start filling it with these other programs, and there’s probably too many to name, but there was just a lot of other government assistance type programs that are in there that are new. That we don’t know how long they’re going to run when they’ll end and what their purpose is in the long run. So I think those questions were a lot of, there just weren’t enough answers to those questions where I think anybody felt comfortable signing off on it. Obviously it ended up passing, they got enough support, but.

[00:20:53] Rico: Passing by I think 62, to something. I forget how many Republicans were on board with it as well.

[00:20:59] Michael: Yeah, I only think there was like seven, something like that in Congress that kind of flipped. It’s something that, I think it was just, without knowing all the details of it and reading it thoroughly, which, you know, would probably put you to sleep, you don’t really know the long term effects of some of the stuff that’s hidden in there. There’s a lot of good stuff in there, but there’s a lot of stuff that’s hidden in there. That we’ll see what those effects have. The timing is just bad. When you’ve got that kind of spending and the debt that we have and the inflation issues that we have spending that kind of money is, at this time, not a good time. We’re not in a depression. Biden tried to sell it as like The New Deal. And it’s not, right? We were coming out of, you know, a depression, were in a depression when FDR passed that. And we’re not in a depression right now, you know, we’re, we have inflation and we have enough people to work and we have enough jobs, but people aren’t working. So the need to spend that amount of money was in my mind unnecessary. There was a need to spend money, but probably not that much.

[00:21:54] Rico: And certainly they wanted more than what they got, by far.

[00:21:58] Michael: Yeah, exactly.

[00:21:59] Rico: And like you said, in a bit like this there’s always amendments. There’s always things put in that certain congressmen wants or senators wants. So it’s gets to be a bit of a pork barrel of stuff too. So that’s, I wouldn’t be surprised there are things in there that probably we would never know about. Let’s get on to immigration. There has been a crisis at the border. There’s been a crisis at the border since Trump, and even before Trump. Hasn’t gotten worse, hasn’t gotten better. I mean, ebb and flows. Sometimes I think that Biden’s immigration problem is roughly no different than what Trump had at the border also. But should we be creating, spending time to create a comprehensive immigration bill? Should people be waiting five years before they are allowed to come into this country? Should people be paying certain visas because they can put a hundred thousand dollars into a new business to be able to come to this country? Is it broken? How do we fix it?

[00:22:57] Michael: Yeah, it’s definitely broken. I think the optics just depend on who’s president, right? You had kids in cages when Trump was president, you had kids in cages when Biden was president It’s no better now. It’s no worse. It’s just how the media spins it. You know, for me, I just think that, yeah, there needs to be an easier path. Our country was built upon immigrants. I’m here from, descendants from Europe, and wouldn’t be here if immigration wasn’t. None of us would be right? Unless you’re a hundred percent Native American. So, there needs to be a way. People come here to find a better life for the most part. There are a minority of people that come here for the wrong reasons. And I think there can be taskforces, which already exist to make sure you crack down on that and narcotics, human trafficking. I think if you have more money pumped into those programs to make sure that we’re really kind of honing in on, okay, who’s coming across the border to really make a life for themselves and their family versus those that are just really trying to do the wrong things. And putting efforts around that, then we’ll see progress. But nobody wants to work together on that. It’s all about, your plan is bad, my plan’s good. Vote for me, vote for him. So, immigration is an important topic for me. A lot of that just comes back to my religious beliefs and, you know, Christ said, you should welcome widows, orphans and foreigners. And treat them with that kind of respect and to see how we treat people that come into this country, it’s disheartening. It’s emotional times to see kids, trying to get over here, families broken apart. So there’s just gotta be a better way to do it. I think there can be. But it’s always about, who’s right, who’s wrong. And how do I make the situation look worse for that guy? So I can get voted in house. Rather than actually worrying about and being an advocate for the people that are trying to come here to make a better life for themselves.

[00:24:45] Rico: Do you think DACA should be made permanent? The whole idea of DACA is to accept the immigrants that are here, which depending on who you talk to, it could be 10 million, 11 million, 15 million that are illegal. To come here illegally, but have made permanent homes here. Kids have gone to college here. They may have been here for 10, 15 years. They may have been here since they were two. All of a sudden, one administration wants to deport a two year old that was here that’s 18 years old now, to a country they know nothing about. Do you think that we should create a path for citizenship, at least for the children of those that came here illegally? Do you have any idea of what you’d like to see in that?

[00:25:26] Michael: I would like to see that and, you know, I would challenge people that are Republicans to actually get out and get exposed to people that have come here illegally and understand what they’re going through, right? And try to put yourself in their shoes. Until I really started doing that, I didn’t really understand. But you really see what they go through, the conditions they live in and how much pride they take in just being in this country. And I think if you actually gave them status as an American citizen, they would be red, white, and blue all over for the rest of their lives. The vast majority of them. There are some people that come here legally to do the wrong things. But I think that, you can’t paint with broad strokes. I think most of the people come here to make a life for themselves. Just like people did at the beginning of our country, throughout the early 19 hundreds. I mean, there’s always been waves of immigration. And when people get over here, they pound their chest, red, white, and blue. And I think that’s what does need to happen. And then moving forward, there needs to be a better way to allow people in, in a responsible and humane way, so they’re not clamoring and rushing to the border. But they know that, Hey, if you get here, there’s going to be a path and it’s not going to be ridiculous. You’re not going to have to the smuggle yourself in.

[00:26:40] Rico: So would you think that, I mean, we’re at the point where we’re an aging society. It’s an aging economy. We’re not expanding as much as we were. The white birth rate is lower than it used to be, by far. It’s actually below the level, that would be expanding the population. The expanding populations right now are Asian populations, Latino community. Within about 20, 30 years, or less maybe, we’ll be a majority, minority country. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m not saying there is. There’s nothing wrong with that. Blended families. There’s just nothing wrong with that, but we need to maybe make the immigration process shortened. There’s no reason why someone needs to wait five years, four years, even three or two years before they get an answer, whether they can come into this country or not. Should we be putting more money towards that budget? Because right now there’s not enough people to even, you could wait 10 years before you get accepted into this country.

[00:27:42] Michael: That’s the only way to, I would say. Prevent what’s happening now. When you start to have these mad rushes, because people will say, alright well, this is my time let’s get in. And you start to see, smuggling of people and babies coming unaccompanied. And that’s a problem. It’s systemic because we don’t have a good way of getting people that want to be here legally in. And yeah, it’s, lack of funding, lack of oversight. And there needs to be work done there. Hopefully it gets that way. You know, my wife’s a teacher, she’s got a heavy Hispanic population. And the parents that she talks about there are just so invested in their kids and wanting them to have a better life. And so invested in what they’re doing and how they’re performing. And they want to be here. They want to do the right things, the vast majority of them. They just need the support. I take a little different view probably than a lot of Republicans do when it comes to that, just because of some of the things I’ve been exposed to. Just volunteering and being alongside of some of these people that I know are illegal, but are providing assistance to. Because it’s, to me, the right and the Christian thing to do is to help them out. They’re human beings. So yeah, there’s gotta be a better way. I don’t know what that way is, but it’s going to be money and it’s going to be building or fortifying organizations that already exist to make sure that there’s a path and it’s not chaos at the border.

[00:29:05] Rico: What do you think about, COVID is going on two years now, almost. When it first started in the month of February or March, when it got really bad and things shut down in lots of parts of the country, it almost felt like not the walking dead, but it almost felt like apocalyptic. The way it was going, like things had to be shut down because the contagion was spreading. And you think about these movies, Outbreak and stuff like that. But we’ve come out of it. Things have changed. Lots of things have changed. The way we work, the way we eat, how we order our food, how we talk to our employers, how we work remotely. But now we have vaccines. We have boosters. Hopefully COVID, doesn’t come back again. Hopefully there’s not another resurgence of it. But what do you see moving forward that we should be doing? Looking back in the past, we can’t change anything, but moving forward, what should we be doing?

[00:29:58] Michael: When it comes to vaccines, I mean, I got vaccinated. You know, it’s just one of those things. I was a little bit hesitant at first, I think there were a lot of people. But chose to get vaccinated. The science is showing that obviously, even if you get it you’re going to be a lot less likely to have to get serious medical attention. It’s a good thing that the vaccine is out here. It’s letting us get back to normal lives. When it first hit us, yeah it was very weird. I mean, I remember, I do a lot of running around here and just running in and around the forum. And there’s just nobody there. It just, it was like a ghost town. It was creepy. And nobody knew what was going on, and where it came from or how it happened. I think we learned a lot from it, in terms of, we were not really that well prepared for a pandemic. And I think it was well documented that there’s been, even in Obama’s administration, I think when it was SARS that was going around. And they said they dodged a bullet that there was no outbreak in the US because there was nothing, right? It would have been almost the same. So I think, moving forward, there’s gotta be a better plan. You can’t plan for every virus that’s out there, but you’ve got to have a better plan with the infrastructure. Like we didn’t have enough ventilators. We didn’t have a lot of the right advice at the beginning wear a mask, don’t wear a mask. There was just a lot of chaos and misinformation. I think, you know, if it happens again, maybe we’ll have a better plan. But I think there should be some type of group that’s going to be. Okay, here’s what happens if this type of virus gets out or this type of virus. It may not be a certain strand or whatever it is, but how did we prepare? What type of infrastructure is going to be needed? And how do we scale it? Because we didn’t know how to do that. Testing, yeah, we couldn’t test. We couldn’t, we didn’t have ventilators. We didn’t have facilities. So nobody thought about that or just nobody put enough thought into it to actually put a plan in place. So, you know, we’ve got to think about that, cause it could happen again. And another thing, I still want to know what happened. A lot of people do. I still think, China needs to be held accountable. I don’t think the US, as a global society, the world has really pressed on them hard enough. I don’t know if it was intentional. I don’t know if it was accidental. But if it was intentional, who’s to say it’s not going to happen again?

[00:32:15] Rico: But what, how would you hold them accountable? Whenever I hear that, like the draw that line in the sand thing that Obama did, and then someone steps over it and they look at you and you don’t do anything. If there are consequences, what would those consequences be? And then where would that stop?

[00:32:32] Michael: The consequences in my mind, just from an abstract view is number one, you have to start pulling away resources and money. Which is what they care about the most. And it has to be done from a coalition perspective. If the United States goes out alone, they’re just going to be, whatever. So you’re going to have to get other countries on board. And really press them, and stop trade. Stop a lot of things. poor companies out of China.

[00:32:59] Rico: How do you do that? Talk about supply chain issues. We buy, I didn’t know this until COVID happened, that 80% of the active ingredients in most of our pharmaceuticals come from China. And almost the entire supply of masks, 90% or something of those M95’s. Everyone else is wearing cloth, so am I, they’re not going to work on most viruses like that. M95 s is what you have to have. Almost all of them come from the Asian Pacific. All that we buy. Our iPhones, our iPads, our foods, even some of it comes from Asia. How could we do that? It would just go bad.

[00:33:38] Michael: It would. We have the ability. It’s, are we willing to pay more for what we’re getting today for less? That’s the whole reason why a lot of companies moved over there. A lot of productions moved over there. Even my four and seven year old daughter know that everything’s made in China. So you can’t do it overnight. I think you have to apply pressure over time. And why you’re applying that pressure over time, starting to build a contingency plan. If you don’t, the world is always going to be at the mercy of China. And let’s say this was something nefarious that they did. And they just said, Hey, let’s test this out and see what they can actually even do. I don’t know if that’s what they’re doing.

[00:34:19] Rico: Do you think really that, that would be the case? I mean, something like that it’s like Israel’s, what was it, the Stutnik virus that got into Iran’s system then went wild and went across other countries besides Iran. A virus is worse, right? Because you can’t just direct where it’s going to go. It’s going to go where it wants to go.

[00:34:39] Michael: I don’t think anybody can say with certainty that it ‘was planned or not planned, but there’s just, no, there’s no transparency in what actually happened. And they could have. I mean, they could have. And China’s such a closed off society and very secret to the point of, you say the wrong thing, you sometimes don’t get heard from again. Nobody really knows. It could have been an honest mistake, a bat bit somebody, or somebody ate some.

[00:35:04] Rico: Or it could have came out of a lab accidentally. I’m not saying it didn’t come from a lab, but accidentally I wouldn’t be surprised. Things happen.

[00:35:12] Michael: I definitely don’t believe it came from an animal because expert immunologists have said, there’s no way a virus could become that lethal that quickly in nature from animal to human transmission. So I think it was produced. Was it leaked accidentally or on purpose? I think that’s the question. If it was on purpose then yeah while, China’s definitely a pretty evil society. If, If they said, okay, we’re going to pick this one city. And let you know, those citizens probably suffer. Let some people fly out of there and spread it amongst the world and see what happens. That’s the farfetched theory that the, you know, the probably more problematic or more likely scenario is it leaked out somehow. Somebody left that lab and got infected by it. And China just doesn’t want to admit that it happened. And, yeah.

[00:36:03] Rico: I agree. That’s likely the scenario. I mean, I’ve seen CDC reports where sometimes they’ve lost virus vials that they’ve been working on. They can’t track down anymore. So it’s just how do you do that then? How does that walk out of what is a level four lab or something?

[00:36:21] Michael: But I mean, yeah the most likely scenario out of all those is, you know, in a lab accidentally got out and nobody just wants to take accountability for it.

[00:36:30] Rico: Let’s do some quick questions. COVID-19 vaccine mandates. For it? Against it? Private companies, government, your opinion?

[00:36:40] Michael: Personally, if I’m working for a company that is mandating it, then just go ahead and do it. I think it’s become such a political issue now. You have to get vaccinated to go to school. In the military, you’ve got to get something like 17 vaccines. To go overseas you’ve got to get vaccines. So I think a lot of people would just are like, I’m not going to do it because it’s my right. And I respect their right. But I also respect the right of companies to say, hey, we don’t want to have to deal with this long term. So get vaccinated or you can’t be here.

[00:37:13] Rico: Do you think that schools should do the same thing? I mean, right now, my kids have to have, your kids likely when they enter school, I have to have certain vaccines done. Do you believe schools should mandate vaccines for this?

[00:37:24] Michael: I would say if COVID is still here, let’s say in the next year, two years, not a bad idea. If it starts to wean off, then probably not. To me that’s more like the flu shot. Like we just have to live with the flu. The flu is going to be around. It used to be very deadly. Now it’s not, but my hope is that COVID, we’re always in, it’s going to be part of our lives, but it would just won’t be as effective as it has been. So I would say let’s wait that out a little bit, not rush to judgment, just because kids bodies are growing. They respond in different ways. And the studies have shown when kids get it, it’s not very bad. There’s not that many deaths like it is in older people or people that are immunocompromised. So I personally, my opinion would be, let’s give it a little bit more time. Adults, I personally have had family members that decided not to get vaccinated and then got COVID afterwards and went to the hospital. And it’s kinda like, you know why, right? Everybody was crying for a vaccine like, a year ago. Where’s this vaccine, where’s this vaccine? And then it comes out and they’re like, ah, I don’t know about that.

[00:38:29] Rico: Yeah. It’s amazing how humans can be.

[00:38:32] Michael: I say all that to say this, if somebody says, Hey, I don’t want to take it. That’s their choice. Everybody’s got free will in their life. So I’m not going to bash people for not taking it. But I also do believe that, Hey, if it’s out there and it’s proven to be helpful, then it’s not a bad idea to get it.

[00:38:48] Rico: Cool. We spent more time than we were going to, but there was a lot of good topics to talk about. So I appreciate your hanging in there with me like that.

[00:38:55] Michael: Yeah, for sure.

[00:38:56] Rico: Let me just do some quick, easy stuff. What’s your favorite food?

[00:39:00] Michael: What favorite food? Definitely pizza.

[00:39:04] Rico: Okay. You like to run, it sounds like. Do you listen to music while you’re running or podcasts?

[00:39:09] Michael: I listen to typically music, yeah.

[00:39:12] Rico: Okay. Any particular type of music or?

[00:39:16] Michael: Believe it or not, yeah. I grew up listening, to kind of like, the southern rap sort of scenes. So like OutKast and stuff like that, yeah. So I’m usually listening to that cause it’s getting me pumped up. I can’t listen to anything real slow and easy.

[00:39:31] Rico: Do you have any app games or board games that you like best?

[00:39:35] Michael: I play jeopardy on my phone all the time. Yeah. And I play kids monopoly with my daughters, so yeah, those are the two things. I don’t play video games anymore. I used to love that. High school, college, but yeah, don’t have that anymore.

[00:39:47] Rico: Which ones did you play? What was your favorite?

[00:39:49] Michael: Mostly sports games. Like a NCAA 2001 or 1999 or whatever it was back then, yeah.

[00:39:56] Rico: Oh, that’s funny. I moved here in 95, but before that, when my wife and I got married, not a sports person. So we were playing Zelda, Mario Brothers, all sorts of games like that.

[00:40:07] Michael: I love Zelda and Mario Brothers too, yeah. I was a big Nintendo guy, not Sega.

[00:40:12] Rico: Yeah, okay. There you go. That’s between that and espressos, we’d be up eight hours playing. Before kids.

[00:40:20] Michael: Yeah, yeah. Now have you always lived in Peachtree Corners?

[00:40:23] Rico: I moved down from Brooklyn, New York. And we’ve always lived in Peachtree Corners. We moved straight here in 95 and haven’t moved anywhere else since then, so.

[00:40:32] Michael: That’s fantastic.

[00:40:34] Rico: Kids grew up here. Kids went through the public school system, through the IB system, they all cried as they were going through the IB system. But the two older ones, loved it after that, because college was easy. They were the only ones that knew how to write, it seemed, in their study groups. And so they would have to take over, but the IB program and this school system here was phenomenal for them.

[00:40:57] Michael: That’s awesome, yeah.

[00:40:58] Rico: Yeah. I wish we could’ve talked about education, but we are at 50 minutes and we’re at the end of our time together. So what I’d like to ask you to do, and what I ask most candidates to do, is give us that one minute, what you would do out at the door when you knock. Why should people be voting for you and where they can find out more information about you? So ask for the vote, if you will.

[00:41:18] Michael: Yeah, you know, in some of my email campaigns, I’m not shy about that. I’ve been in sales my entire life. And I’m going to ask for the business, right? So, I ask for your vote. The biggest thing for me is that I just have a lot of pride and passion in our city, our state, and even more so locally in this community. I’ve spent my entire life here pretty much, since 1992. I was 14 years old. And I don’t plan on going anywhere. I’m not cut from the cloth of the rich or elite. My purpose to get into politics is to just make change. And, as Rico was talking about, if I can’t get it all done in the term limit that I’m there, I will try my hardest. And that’s the biggest thing. I’ve got nothing to lose. I’m doing this because I really, truly care about our country. Truly care about this district and want to make change. I don’t want to just say things and have it be hollow, empty promises. And I think a lot of people are just starting to see that and you can kind see it on their faces. You go to the polls and you have two choices and both of those choices don’t look like you. They don’t talk like you, they don’t act like you. And they’re not going to support you. Well, I will. You can find more information on me at, www.Corbin four, that’s the number four, congress.com. That’s www.corbin4congress.com. So a lot of information on there as well as @Corbin4Congress on my Twitter handle as well.

[00:42:49] Rico: Great. So we’ve been talking to Michael Corbin, congressional candidate, US house, Georgia District Seven. Running as a Republican in the Republican primary. That’ll be coming up in May of 2022, next year. Sounds like it’s far away, but it’s not. It’ll be here soon. More issues will probably develop before then that we are not even thinking about yet. So you never know what God brings to you. Doors close, doors open. So be safe out there. I appreciate Michael, you hanging in there with me and being on this podcast. Thank you. Everyone else, visit LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com and find out a little bit more about what’s going on in your community. If you have any questions for Michael, post them in the comments below. Even though this is a live simulcast stream, we’ll be able to answer back some of these questions later. So thank you for being with us. And if you listening to this on an audio podcast, please rate us and share it with your friends. Let them know where you’re hearing news about Peachtree Corners and the things that go on in the city. Thank you all.

[00:43:50] Michael: Thank you Rico for having me. Appreciate it.

[00:43:52] Rico: Thank you.

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Elections and Politics

Find out why Lisamarie Bristol is Running for Gwinnett Solicitor-General?

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Lisamarie Bristol, a candidate for Gwinnett’s next Solicitor-General, wants to use her experience to create a safer, more compassionate community through effective early interventions that protect victims and help to set low-level offenders on the right path. Lisamarie shares her story, her beliefs, and why she feels led to serve in this ever-growing community.

Timestamp:

[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:03:50] – Lisamarie’s Background
[00:05:37] – Switching between Defender and Prosecutor
[00:10:08] – Improving the System and Lowering Crime Rates
[00:16:20] – Criminal Justice Reform
[00:17:13] – How COVID has Changed the Process
[00:20:14] – Advocating for Victim Rights
[00:21:35] – Leadership Gwinnett
[00:23:52] – Community Involvement
[00:28:00] – Closing

“I am not a politician. I am a community servant. And it’s interesting because those who know me know, I always said I would never, ever run for office. But I really do feel compelled. I want to make my community safer. I want to make it better for my children and my neighbors’ children. And for all of us. And so it’s not something I chose lightly. But definitely something I am committed to. I want to see these gaps in our services, I want to see them filled. I want to see a comradery among our colleagues that we can do this and we can have a better, safer, greater Gwinnett. And that’s what I’m working towards.”

LisaMarie Bristol

Podcast transcript

[00:00:30] Rico: Hi everyone. This is Rico Figliolini, host of Peachtree Corners Life. The podcast that talks about everything happening, not only in the city of Peachtree Corners, but things that relate and would affect the residents and the people that live here, the workers that live in Peachtree Corners. We’re a work, live, and play community and so politics sometimes gets in the way. We have elections coming up soon and another year there’ll be elections that were, even this year city elections actually. But next year we have the Gwinnett County Solicitor-General’s office. That’s going to be up for election. And we have a guest today that’s going to be a candidate in that race. So let me bring her on. Lisamarie Bristol. Hey, Lisa, how are you?

[00:01:10] Lisa: Good evening, I’m great. How are you?

[00:01:13] Rico: Good, thanks. It’s been a brutal hot day today. So think we’re all inside right now, right?

[00:01:19] Lisa: Yes, very much.

[00:01:20] Rico: By the time this streams, hopefully it’ll be a little cooler out there, but I’m glad that you came. I’ve done these candidate interviews before, a variety of them, Gwinnett county, Supreme court candidates, state house candidates, congressional candidates. So it’s always great to be able to find out, and interview, and question those running for office to see why they’re running. To find out their background, how they feel about certain issues, where they stand. So I’m glad that you’re here to be able to do this with us.

[00:01:47] Lisa: Thank you so much.

[00:01:49] Rico: Sure. And you have a great background. I think that especially for the office you’re running for, you’ve dealt with both sides of the fence, if you will. So tell us, because most people really don’t know what the Gwinnett county Solicitor-General’s office, what you would do once you win that seat. So what does the office do? Explain that to our listeners.

[00:02:08] Lisa: Absolutely. Well, first Rico, thank you so much for the invitation. I really appreciate the opportunity to be here and to speak to your audience and to hopefully answer some questions that they may have about this race. To answer that, the Solicitor-General is the prosecutor in the county that is responsible for handling all prosecution of cases that go through state court and recorder’s court. So that’s any misdemeanor, traffic violations, or county ordinances will likely go through the Solicitor-General’s office. If there’s a felony attached, or if the person involved is a juvenile, then it would go to a different court. But most often it’s going to be in state court in the Solicitor-General’s office.

[00:02:49] Rico: And that office from the county website handles like 9,000 misdemeanor cases through the year.

[00:02:56] Lisa: It does.

[00:02:56] Rico: That’s a lot. And how many, I don’t even know how many staff members are in that office or how that works, but I’m sure you’d be the manager of that office, if you will.

[00:03:06] Lisa: Yes. So it fluctuates. You’re right, Gwinnett County is the second largest county in the state. We have a very large Solicitor-General’s office. I actually interned in the office way back in 2008. So we have six state court judges in state court. We have three recorders court judges over in recorders court. We also handle things at the jail in that office. So it’s a pretty robust office. It staffs prosecutors, victim advocates, legal staff, investigators. So it’s a pretty full staff. I’m not sure what the actual number of positions are at this time. Because it’s changed over the years, but we have a lot of judges and a lot of, like you said, a lot of volume to deal with in that office.

[00:03:50] Rico: For sure. So now that we understand a little bit about what that office is about, why don’t we backtrack a little bit and tell us a little bit about yourself and your family, your experience, where you’ve come from. So this way people can understand who Lisamarie Bristol is?

[00:04:04] Lisa: Absolutely. Well, I’m a proud graduate of Georgia State College of Law, class of ’09. Go Panthers. When I graduated, I actually started off on the other side. I started off doing criminal defense work down in Henry and Clayton Counties. I did that for about a year before I moved to the public defender’s office in Walton county. And I spent three years out in Walton county as a public defender where I handled again, just like in Henry and Clayton county where I was handling state court, in Walton I handled everything. So from traffic violations up to murders. I was a public defender for all kinds of cases. I transitioned back to prosecution in 2014, I believe is when I joined the DeKalb County solicitor-general’s office. I was there for about four years before I came home to Gwinnett County. Gwinnett’s been home for my husband and I, and our three children, for over 10 years now. And we love it here. We chose Gwinnett quite intentionally to raise our family and we’re thrilled to be a part of this community. And so when I joined the Gwinnett county district attorney’s office, it really gave me an opportunity to dig deeper into the community that I live in to understand our community a lot more. And I spent three years there. I’m currently back in the DeKalb County district attorney’s office in the senior assistant district attorney position. And, you know, I did that for a couple of reasons. It just gave me a really good opportunity to have a little space in order to run for Gwinnett County Solicitor-General.

[00:05:37] Rico: Now you have three kids 8 to 14. Gwinnett County has faced a lot of different changes. Diversity, crime rate to some degree has risen. Schools where kids have to, either they’re doing remote work, I’m sure your kids have to face that, or going back to school now with mask mandates. And who knows what other mandates that may come. But you’re tasked as a prosecutor, your test to protect the safety of the Gwinnett citizen. Law and order, but the office also handles crime victim assistance programs, which is part and parcel of that. You become a victim of a crime. The county doesn’t want to just leave you out in the cold. The county wants to be able to help you through that. You were a public defender for a while and you’d decided to go to the other side, if you will, and become a prosecutor. What motivated you to do that? To do the prosecution side. What did you see that you decided to go there?

[00:06:28] Lisa: Well, I enjoyed my time as a public defender. I did. I was in a great office with great people but the power really lies with the state. And the reality is no matter how reasonable my recommendation may have been as a public defender. I knew my clients, I knew what their limitations were, what their parameters were. And if I made a reasonable request, if the prosecutor said no, or if the prosecutor was unreasonable, or whatever the situation was, it didn’t matter. I was powerless to set my client up to be in the best position possible to be successful. And that became frustrating. Because the prosecutor in the system is the one that has all of the power. The prosecutor decides what charges to bring, how many charges to bring. The judge really can only rule on what’s before them. So that became a kind of a constant issue. And I realized, if I can look at it on the front end as the prosecutor and make more intelligent or more holistic charging decisions, it would streamline the process. And so that’s what I fortunately was able to do when I became a prosecutor. Especially in the DeKalb solicitor’s office. I could look at my cases and be more critical at the front end and think to myself, Hey, this person is shoplifting basic needs. Perhaps they can’t handle a $500 fine plus surcharges. Maybe we need to look at community service. Maybe we need to look at other alternatives. And that was something as the prosecutor that I could just put out there as opposed to hoping to come across the right prosecutor, who was willing to hear my considerations.

[00:08:15] Rico: I think what happens is that most people wonder why prosecutors will choose what the prosecute, right? So with the Georgia election laws, the way it’s turned out right now you can be prosecuted for supplying drink or food to someone online for election. Now, the prosecutor doesn’t have to prosecute that. You can choose where to spend your resources. Is that really where you want to spend your resources or do you want to spend the resources somewhere more effectively where it could have a bigger impact on safety and community. Does that make sense I guess?

[00:08:47] Lisa: It does. The prosecutor, there is a separation of powers and obviously the prosecutor is responsible for enforcing the laws that the legislature has set out. But there is still a lot of discretion. There’s a big spectrum of what we can and cannot do, and you’re absolutely correct. You as the prosecutor have the power to look at, is this something that we need to expend a lot of resources on? Do I need to have my investigator out pulling reports and street cam videos and things of that nature on this case? Or do I need to realistically look at what’s happening? Make a triage assessment and then pour my resources into these DUI cases, which is a big part of what the solicitor-general’s office handles, or this domestic violence case. Domestic violence, family violence, battery, family violence, simple battery, simple assault, stalking. Those are all misdemeanors. That are typically handled by the solicitor-general’s office. Those are cases that typically require more resources, more time, more training for the victim advocates and the investigators. And so the prosecutor really has the responsibility, in my opinion, to reasonably use the resources of the state to focus on the cases that need those resources.

[00:10:08] Rico: Are you finding, because you’ve worked with the office in DeKalb as well. What would you change coming in? Are there any things, aside from what we just discussed setting parameters of what you wanted to do, are there any things within the office structure that you would change the way they operate and such?

[00:10:24] Lisa: Well, I’m not 100% certain how the office operates in its current structure. One thing I would like to focus on is I would like to make sure that we are focused on triaging the right cases and using our resources on the cases that need the resources. And that might mean training. It might mean shuffling how things are done and how accusations are done and drafted. But I would like to see more emphasis on getting rid of the cases that don’t need to be prosecuted. The ones that come in, the ones that are easily resolved either with a program, or with a diversion program, or accountability court. Get those done at the front end so we can focus on the ones that we do need to take to trial. There are a lot of cases that do still need to be tried. And for every case that we bog down the system with something because of an unreasonable offer, or we’re just not returning a phone call. That takes away from the cases and therefore from the victims who need justice and now it’s delayed. And so I would really want to focus on making it a priority that our office identifies quicker, the cases that need the resources so we can focus on those. And then we can properly route the ones that have alternative resolution options.

[00:11:46] Rico: That would make sense. A part of what you want to do is you want to make sure that the perpetrator, if you will, it doesn’t have to keep coming back again into the system. Because like you said, maybe it is food that they need that they’re shoplifting or necessities of life. And I know some people will say well, you need to punish that. And you’re not saying you’re not going to punish that. What you’re saying is that if there’s other programs that can help them get out of what they’re doing, that means they’re not going to do it again. And then you’re still addressing the victim rights as well and what has to deal with that.

[00:12:19] Lisa: Absolutely. Our victims have to be a priority, whether it is the small business owner who’s merchandise is stolen or the victim of a crime. Our victims absolutely have to be a priority. But we have to think holistically. We don’t want them to be revictimized. What can we do? Is it an anger management issue? Is it a conflict resolution issue? It might be an alcohol and a drug issue. If we can try and identify some of those problems at the outset and put the right treatment, put the right programs, get them in the right supervision and structured situation. I think we have a stronger chance of breaking the cycle of recidivism. If the person is shoplifting, for example, for bare necessities because they can’t get a job because they don’t have their education. Rather than fining them hundreds of dollars and putting them on probation with a monthly supervision fee. Perhaps what we need to look at is getting them into a program to get their GED or hooking them up with a community partnership where they can get some technical or trade skill training. So that they can in fact, get the resources that they need to break that cycle. If we put people on probation, which is a monthly supervision fee, which is taking time off of work if they have it, to come and report and all we do is push them down further and further, when probation is over we’re leaving them worse than how we found them.

[00:13:43] Rico: Probation fee. That means they’re paying a fee every month on that?

[00:13:47] Lisa: Every month.

[00:13:48] Rico: Really? What is that fee?

[00:13:49] Lisa: Last time I checked was around $40 a month in monthly supervision fees. Sometimes those fees can be waived, sometimes they’re not. But it definitely can be a domino effect. It absolutely can be a situation where I’m shoplifting $50 worth of goods. I’ve now been caught. I’ve been arrested I’m in jail now. Maybe there’s restitution owed, so the victim is owed money for whatever the crime was. Supervision fees, a fine, charges for class. It gets expensive. And I think if we’re not careful, it just avalanches against people and just sets them up to just steal bigger and better the next time.

[00:14:29] Rico: Right. When you end up being in the hole even more, you’re not going to just go with the little stuff anymore. So rising crime rates, the hope is that the way you’re looking at it, you’d be able to curtail some of that. Now different crimes, right? Violent crime either depending on your office and what it can handle, some of the crimes are out of your hands anyway, because they’re not dealt with in your office, right?

[00:14:53] Lisa: Well, the reality is though, violent crimes have gone up I think about 62% in 2020. And that trend is continuing in 2021, which is really unfortunate. So violent crime is a community issue. And this is really important. Because what we need to realize is that crime is not a law enforcement issue. It’s a community issue. And that means it impacts everyone and everyone needs to come together and work holistically to address the issues, whether it’s from the law enforcement side, the education side, the community partnership side, the business side. And the rising crime rates are a problem. A lot of family violence crimes start as a misdemeanor. Our opportunity for effective intervention with our victims, putting safety plans in place, letting them know what their rights and their options are. Hopefully getting conflict resolution or family violence intervention in place at that first incident before it escalates to an aggravated assault, or a strangulation, or heaven forbid a murder. So yes, they’re not as serious in theory, but they build on each other. So if we can get that treatment and that effective intervention in place the first time or earlier in the process, the hope is that they don’t then turn around and come back and join the DA’s office with a more violent felony.

[00:16:20] Rico: Now, you also talked about criminal justice reform and I mean, is that part of it? What would that look like with the office?

[00:16:28] Lisa: I think we have the opportunity to have accountability courts. So we can hold people accountable for their behavior and make sure that our victims are made whole, try and keep our communities safer, without just punishing them, putting them in jail, throwing them on probation and forgetting about them. So let’s correct the behavior and do the treatment. Criminal justice reform at the solicitor-general’s office level looks like better community partnerships with conflict resolution courses, education training, alcohol and drug abuse evaluations and treatments. And we have all of those things available to us here in Gwinnett county. We just really need to dig deeper and tap into that. So that we’re not just sending people out to do the exact same thing that they’ve already been punished for doing.

[00:17:13] Rico: COVID changed a lot of things to some degree this past year and a half. I know when I was speaking to one of the Gwinnett superior court judge candidates, she talked about how court cases would be done through video, through online. It’s not the same thing obviously, when you see a victim or you see a criminal being prosecuted, you want to be in person with them. To be able to see them eye to eye versus on a screen. It becomes less impactful, I think in the situation. Is there anything that you see that you would change technologically? Or how has it worked over the past year of being a prosecutor with that?

[00:17:51] Lisa: Well, those kinds of decisions are a lot of times left up, not only up to, but that’s a collaboration between the district attorney, the solicitor, the chief court judges, and the defense bar. Everyone needs to have a seat at the table to figure out what can we do to effectively still move cases, keep our community safe, do our part. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic, obviously, which has just, I think it’s shifted our criminal justice system in ways that we’re going to take years to figure out the true impact of what’s gone on. I think that again, front loading cases and looking critically at cases when they come in, as opposed to just shuffling them into the pile without being more critical is a huge part. People don’t always realize that a pending misdemeanor has a huge impact on their lives. It could impact schooling, school loans, job applications, housing opportunities. So while if you have a case that’s just sitting there in the queue. Nobody’s calling victims. We need to move our cases at the front end. The sad reality is criminal cases don’t age well. So the longer they sit, it doesn’t get better like wine. So we need to be more prudent about looking at them critically at the front end and those that don’t need to be in the queue need to be removed. Minor violations or people who don’t have much of a history or don’t have any history at all, we can put them in a diversion program. And for those who may not know, pretrial diversion is typically a program where someone who has minimal to no criminal history and it’s a non-violent case in most cases, they can enter a program where they are still supervised for a period of several months to a couple of years, depending on the charges. Where they are put through a program where they can do anger management, maybe a drug and alcohol evaluation, whatever treatment is deemed appropriate in their case. Perhaps a mental health evaluation. But they go through the program. They’re still being supervised, but they’re not being prosecuted. And if they successfully complete that program, then we can dispose of their case that way. Those cases don’t take as many resources as a full blown jury trial.

[00:20:14] Rico: I would think yes, time and budget. You’ve been talking about advocating for victim rights. And we talked a little bit about that before, but would there be anything different that you would do that’s currently being done? How would you handle victims?

[00:20:28] Lisa: Well again, I’m not 100% certain how it’s being done now, but I know that Marsy’s law is definitely in place and victims do have a constitutional right to be kept informed of their cases. We need to be sure that our victim advocates are maintaining reasonable contact with our victims, that they’re being alerted of each and every court appearance, because they have the right to appear and be there. We need to make sure that we’re putting resources in place or connecting our victims with resources as needed. There is no point in putting the suspect through a bunch of anger management training or conflict resolution training. If the victim is saying that they need help as well, it’s our responsibility to provide those resources to them as well. I would love to see our program increased and beefed up so that we could bring in the training necessary to make sure that our victim advocates are asking the right questions, are communicating with the victims to ensure that safety plans are being put in place if necessary. Even with restitution for financial cases, ensuring that we know what damages are you entitled to and how can we get those back for you?

[00:21:35] Rico: For sure. And domestic violence cases are a little different, right? You do have to address both sides of that a little differently than a normal crime. Beyond that, we talked a little bit earlier about community partners and responsibility. I know that you’re a part of Leadership Gwinnett now, class of 2020, which is cool. I think there’s 42 odd people there from a variety of backgrounds. So tell us, did that start already, actually?

[00:22:01] Lisa: It hasn’t. Actually, I was originally selected for the class of 2021, but COVID. Leadership Gwinnett made the decision for our safety to defer for the year. And so we’ve recently announced being a part of class of 2022. From what I understand, we will be the longest class ever.

[00:22:19] Rico: Because of the Pandemic.

[00:22:23] Lisa: Definitely. And so I didn’t make that decision lightly either. The Leadership Gwinnett process is very intense. It’s a 10 month program where you take a really deep dive in all facets of our community. Education, civics, infrastructure, the criminal justice side. You really get to dig deep. And after doing the Glance Gwinnett program probably a couple of years ago at this point, I just knew that this was definitely a program I wanted to invest the time and the energy into. And I’m so grateful to have an opportunity to start. I believe we’re starting next month.

[00:22:54] Rico: Okay, yeah. For people that don’t know, I mean obviously the variety of exposure and experience that you get through that 10 months for any leader, any politician, any government worker, or leaders within the community of nonprofit organizations. Because you are surrounded by a variety of people it’s great to not only learn about those areas, but also learn from each other. Because you get to see what other people’s experiences have been.

[00:23:21] Lisa: Absolutely. And everyone gets to bring a little something different to the table. A career educator will be great to learn from because my exposure to education is just as a parent with my three children. And so while I’m grateful, I have one child in each school in my cluster. I have a third grader, a sixth grader and a high school freshmen. It’s still a very different perspective than that of the educator. So that’s just one example. I’m excited to learn from them, from their purview.

[00:23:52] Rico: It’s almost like, I mean I’ve been doing these podcasts for about four years now, I think. And I get a chance to meet a variety of people. But it’s very different when you do it so intensified in that type of program and you learn from so many experiences. So community involvement outside criminal law, you’ve been involved in other things I’m sure. So why don’t you share a little bit with us about what that is?

[00:24:13] Lisa: Sure. Well, one of the things I’m most proud of is I’m actually a part of a group, the national clearinghouse on abuse in later life. Which is actually based out of Wisconsin. It is a federally funded group under the department of justice. And I’ve been teaching with that group since 2017. And our focus is on training prosecutors and law enforcement, as well as sometimes advocates and other community partners, on the prosecution of elder abuse cases. I love the work beyond getting to travel and meet new people all across the country. Our population is definitely aging and it’s a beautiful thing, but unfortunately it sometimes breeds opportunities for people to take advantage of those who have lived a beautiful life. And so it’s really wonderful to be part of such a robust project where I get to go and meet people and learn about different parts of the country and help them navigate these cases because they’re just so important. Beyond that, I’m involved with our local church. My family and I, we’ve been members of Berean Christian Church Gwinnett for about 10 years now. So we’re all involved in ministry. I’m a part of the music ministry and that’s home. I’m so grateful for them, they keep me grounded. And my children are very involved in the youth and the children’s ministries there. So I just really try and then I run my kids around, which they are the real bosses, so yes.

[00:25:38] Rico: I’m sure. Are they involved in sports or after school activities?

[00:25:43] Lisa: They’re involved in everything. So my oldest is in marching band with Shiloh, which is a beast that I was not at all prepared for, but he’s so excited. He’s a trombone player. My middle son is a black belt in karate. So he spends several hours a week at the dojo training.

[00:26:00] Rico: Black belt?

[00:26:01] Lisa: Yes. He tested for his black belt last October. It was beautiful to see the progression in his skillset and his confidence. And so we’re so proud of him that he has stuck through it all these years and made his black belt. And my daughter dances. So my daughter has been a dancer with Triple Seven Studios in Snellville. She does ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, tumbling. So we stay very busy running the children around.

[00:26:29] Rico: Yes, I can see that. You’re all over the place. Yes. Wow. Did the karate black belt watch any of the Olympics?

[00:26:35] Lisa: He did. It was interesting to see, if you stick with this, these are some of the things that can happen. So it was interesting to see him experience for the first time, it on an international stage and really see it beyond his own dojo. So it’s like, it’s outside of Snellville. You can go so much further and he’s dedicated.

[00:26:55] Rico: For sure. He’s young, so he’s got plenty of time.

[00:26:58] Lisa: Exactly. He’s only eleven.

[00:27:00] Rico: Yeah, and a black belt at 11. That’s cool. You’ve also been part of Georgia State University’s top 40 under 40 alumni. You’ve been part of, well you’re president of the Greater Atlanta Black Prosecutors Association.

[00:27:12] Lisa: Yes.

[00:27:13] Rico: A member of the Gate City Bar Association. You’re involved, you’re out there. This is the first office that you’re running for, I think right?

[00:27:20] Lisa: It is. I am not a politician. I am a community servant. And it’s interesting because those who know me know, I always said I would never, ever run for office. But I really do feel compelled. I want to make my community safer. I want to make it better for my children and my neighbors’ children. And for all of us. And so it’s not something I chose lightly. But definitely something I am committed to. I want to see these gaps in our services, I want to see them filled. I want to see a comradery among our colleagues that we can do this and we can have a better, safer, greater Gwinnett. And that’s what I’m working towards.

[00:28:00] Rico: Cool. We’re at the end of our time together, and I appreciate you sharing everything with us that you have so far. Being a prosecutor that’s running for office, essentially like being a politician in a way. I’m sure there’s things out there that you have to do, you have to go to barbecues maybe you have to do certain things like that. Which is good. You get to meet a lot of community people and such. Do you want to share with us where you might be, what you’re going to be doing next month or so? Or how people can find out more information about Lisamarie Bristol?

[00:28:31] Lisa: Absolutely. Right now, my focus is on meeting the voters. I am canvassing, we are knocking on doors and we are trying to meet as many voters as possible. For people who are interested in volunteering, or just getting to know more about me, you can certainly go to www.LisamarieBristol.com. There’s tons of ways that people can get involved. I plan to be in as many places as I can. Gwinnett has a lot going on and it’s been something I’ve always enjoyed with my family. Now it’s something I enjoy on another level. So festivals and parades and food truck Fridays in Duluth. Fantastic. Food truck Tuesdays and Lilburn. Sugar Hill has some great concert series. So I’m really just trying to get out and meet the people. That’s been a huge thing. I’m on social media, I’m on Facebook and Instagram, Lisamarie Bristol for Solicitor-General. So people can jump on. They can join my list serve to get the emails. They can donate right on my website because it does cost money to reach all the voters. And that’s what I’m trying to do. And that’s what we’re doing. So, you know, you might get a knock on your door. If you see someone in a baby blue t-shirt please answer and say hello.

[00:29:55] Rico: Alright, cool. And for those that, just as a reminder, that the election is actually next year. May 24th, 2022. So early in the year versus November. I forget if this is a nonpartisan race or is this a primary?

[00:30:11] Lisa: It is a primary. It is a partisan seat. But right now I’m running as a Democrat. The current person holding the seat is also a Democrat. So we will both be on the Democratic ticket. It’s a very important election cycle. We have five superior court judges that are also on that ticket. The only opportunity to vote for your superior court judges will be on that May 24th ballot. So I just need people to keep scrolling down, until you get to the solicitor general and Lisamarie Bristol, put a check next to my name.

[00:30:41] Rico: Cool. Lisamarie, thank you for being with me. I appreciate it. And I’ll have more links within the show notes, so people can look at this, link up with you here after the show. You know, if you have questions, obviously reach out to Lisamarie or put your questions in the comments and we’ll make sure that we can get an answer for you. So thank you again. Appreciate it. Everyone check out our latest issue of Peachtree Corners Magazine. If it hasn’t hit your mailbox, let me know. You should be getting it, if you haven’t already gotten it. Otherwise go online to LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com and find out more information. Thank you guys. I appreciate it.

[00:31:16] Lisa: Thank you. Have a great night.

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Community

Advance voting for General and Special Election Runoff

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elections runoff gwinnett county

Gwinnett Voter Registrations and Elections is providing opportunities to cast your ballot before the January 5 General and Special Election Runoff. If you plan to vote advance in person, you can vote from December 14 to December 31 at the Beauty P. Baldwin Voter Registrations and Elections Office and eight additional satellite locations, including the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds. Find advance voting locations and hours here on the Elections website.

Voters may request an absentee/advance by mail ballot for the January 5 runoff election now through Thursday, December 31. Voters may apply for their absentee ballot online at BallotRequest.SOS.GA.gov, or by using the forms at GwinnettElections.com. Mail-in bal­lots must be delivered by hand, by mail to the Voter Registration and Elections Office, or dropped into one of the se­cure ballot drop boxes located across the County, including at all Gwinnett County Public Library branches. To check the status of your voter registration, see a sample ballot, and find your Election Day polling location, visit the Secretary of State’s My Voter Page at mvp.sos.ga.gov.

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City Government

Transit Referendum, Crooked Creek Trail, COVID-19 business grants and more from Peachtree Corners

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Peachtree Corners Life podcast

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.

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