Connect with us

Peachtree Corners Life

Scott Hilton and Ruwa Romman on Current Legislation and Issues of Today



Ruwa Romman and Scott Hilton

Join the conversation as representatives Scott Hilton and Ruwa Romman discuss the latest legislative decisions impacting the lives of Georgians. From a $1 billion tax rebate to an increase in teacher pay, they dissect the financial bills shaping the state’s future. But the conversation doesn’t stop there. They also dive into the issues facing the education system in Georgia, reducing standardized testing and the state’s high turnover rate for state offices. With thoughtful and bipartisan discussions that extend to sensitive issues like gender-affirming medical treatment, the Peachtree Corners Life podcast provides an insightful window into the state’s political landscape.


Scott Hilton’s Website: https://www.scotthiltonga.com/

Ruwa Romman’s Website: https://www.ruwa4georgia.com/

One of the cool things we did this year in the budget was we passed yet another $2,000 increase for our teachers. We are in a war for talent right now, just like every other industry. And Georgia now after the last four years, I think we’ve increased teacher pay by about $7,000. So we are now one of the highest states in the Southeast in terms of teacher pay. So really kind of putting our foot forward to say teachers are important and they need to be paid that way.

scott hilton

Timestamp (where in the podcast to find it):

[0:00:00] – Intro
[0:01:58] – About the Representatives
[0:04:52] – Passing a Balanced Budget
[0:09:32] – Consumer Protection
[0:19:37] – Education Issues
[0:34:59] – Gender Dysphoria Treatments
[0:42:59] – Scott Hilton Shares His Views
[0:46:29] – Closing

Podcast transcript:

[0:00:00] Rico Figliolini: Hi, everyone. This is Rico Figliolini, host of Peachtree Corners Life here in the great city of Peachtree Corners, largest city in Gwinnett County. So we have some two great guests. This is going to be a sort of legislative session, politics, a little bit of recap of what’s going on in the State House. Let me just quickly introduce Ruwa Romman on the left. Hey, Ruwa. Good morning. Thanks for coming. Ruwa is a Fresh State House rep. She represents District 97, which includes Berkeley Lake, Duluth, Norcross and Peachtree Corners. Life here in Gwinnett County. She’s the first Muslim woman elected to the Georgia State House, which is interesting as well. I come from New York, so being in the south is a little different. It’s good to see firsts on things like that. I also want to introduce also Scott Hilton that everyone, people know. Hey Scott. Good morning.

[0:00:49] Scott Hilton: Hey, Rico, how are you doing? Good morning.

[0:00:51] Rico Figliolini: Good. Yes. We had some issues, technical issues before, but we’re good now, though. Scott’s, a State House Rep. District 48. Actually. This is his second rodeo, if you will. He was State House rep once before and had some break between and is back again. He represents now a little different than the district before, which is Pastry Corners, Johns Creek, Alpharetta and Roswell. So, welcome. Before we get into discussions and all, I just want to introduce our sponsor, corporate sponsor, supporting our journalism, our podcasts, and the magazines that we produce. And that’s EV Remodeling, Inc. And the owner is Eli. And Eli lives here in pastry corners. Great company. They do design, build whole house renovation and such. So check them out and you can go to Evremodelinginc.com to get more information about them now that we’ve cleared that. And technically, I think everything’s going good. So let’s do this rehearsal again, and we’ll have Ruwa introduce herself this time. Well, like we did last time, I guess. So tell us a little bit about yourself, Ruwa, and how’s your first session, by the way? Your impression of it as well.

[0:01:58] Ruwa Romman: Hi, everyone. My name is Ruwa and I represent House District 97, which includes parts of fishery Corners, all of Berkeley Lake, parts of Duluth, and parts of Norcross. And I am a freshman state representative. I got elected last year, and this was my first ever session, and it was an incredible experience. I think, as I’ve told people as a freshman, it always feels like you’re drinking from a fire hose. And I was incredibly thankful that there were other freshmen that had come in with me. Almost 30% of the chamber this year were new members. We also had new leadership, which meant that everybody was kind of learning along the way. And even, for example, when we didn’t have offices, we kind of all navigated the area together, and we worked really well together, and it gave us an opportunity to build some really good relationships for the session.

[0:02:43] Rico Figliolini: Cool. Yeah. That first session of being a freshman could be a horror story sometimes, I guess, but I’m glad that you all are doing well and had time to spend with each other life. That scott, tell us a little bit about yourself, what you’ve been doing lately, and how that first session went to you.

[0:03:00] Scott Hilton: Yeah. Rico, good morning. Great to see you. Thank you for hosting us. I know when you and I talked about doing this, I thought it was so important that both Ruwa and I do this together. Our districts are divided essentially by 141. Got the forum side she’s got the bush road side but together, we jointly represent these street corners. And I consider Ruwa’s a good friend of mine, even though we’re on opposite political sides. What’s neat about working at the State House is that we do create those friendships and we do work closely together. You hear about DC. Politics all the time. I think it’s very different down at the Georgia State House. We do have our differences, but it’s awesome to see us work together. As you mentioned, I’ve lived in Petrie Corners 13 years now we live over in Amberfield and raising three kids here. Wife is a small business owner right across the street from Wesleyan. And we love live, working, and playing in Peachtree Corners.

[0:03:55] Rico Figliolini: Yeah. And I appreciate when you first contacted me a couple of weeks ago about bringing on Ruwa as well. So I appreciate you putting that out there. That’s very good. I don’t see that too often in politics, bringing on an opposing party with you to talk about what’s going on in session. So this is great to have two political point of views, I guess, but let’s get right into it. There’s a few things, and this started really with that legislative recap that you sent out that I ended up posting online. I’d like to invite Ruwa to be able to do the same thing for me. By the way, just to let you know. I’d like to be able to share your point of view as well within the week or two. So I’ll get back in touch with you on that. But, Scott, tell me, out of the half a dozen legislative more than that, probably legislation that you’ve highlighted in your newsletter, which one do you want to start with? What’s most important to you at this point?

[0:04:52] Scott Hilton: Yeah, what’s most important is really the only constitutional responsibility we have is passing a budget and passing a balanced budget. So we could go down there, do that, and adjourn and get on out of there. But that’s one of the biggest responsibilities that we have. And if you’re a taxpayer in Georgia, specifically Gwynette this year, this is a very good year for you. In particular, three things. Number one, we passed another $1 billion tax rebate for Georgia taxpayers, upwards of $500 for joint filers that you’ll see coming back into your pocket. Number two, we did another billion dollar property tax relief grant. So a lot of us that are watching this podcast here are property owners. And we’ve seen property taxes skyrocket over the last couple of years. And so giving much needed relief there. And then finally, third, worked very hard to introduce and pass a Gwynette property tax rebate. So that not a rebate, but we’re going to be able to vote in 2024 to double our current homestead exemption. So providing Gwynette taxpayers more tax relief here in the state.

[0:06:02] Rico Figliolini: Cool. Wow. Awesome. Yes, I noticed my property tax bill, when they assess it, and you know how that works, right? You get the value of the house, the assessment is much lower or well, supposed to be lower. They’ve raised it right. So I guess that’s life almost like a tax increase without voting for a tax increase when they do that, right.

[0:06:22] Scott Hilton: See what’s been happening. So this is the first time we’ve cut it in this major way since 1988. So we’re doubling the homestead exemption, assuming that the voters pass this, and we also provide another $2,000 homestead exemption for teachers, first responders, and active duty military. So really trying to attract the best and brightest to Gwinnett County with really trying to keep the American dream alive. We hear how it’s so hard to buy a house these days and a lot of that property taxes are so expensive at the same time.

[0:06:52] Rico Figliolini: Yeah, for sure. I think there’s only just saw a friend of mine that just bought a house in Peachtree Corners Life a year ago, and there were only two houses for sale in Peace Corners at the time, and I don’t think it’s that much different now, actually. So, Ruwa, what about you? I know you’re a freshman, but what legislation are you out there with?

[0:07:13] Ruwa Romman: I actually was going to say we always start out with a budget because that’s the biggest thing that we pass. And we actually technically two budgets. There’s an amended budget that we passed for the previous fiscal year and then the one for this upcoming fiscal year. What was really unique about the process this year is we had a $6 billion surplus. So we had an opportunity to really backfill some of the things that we’ve had to cut over the past ten years, which was great because we got to see some things like funding for various grants for nonprofits. We got to see funding for breakfast and lunches, particularly for kids who live in poverty because a child that’s hungry is not going to be able to learn. One of the things I was really sad about, and I don’t understand why and this wasn’t our chamber, this was the other chamber was we cut $66 million from the university system this year. So that’s what I want to learn a little bit more about is what went into that decision. Why did it happen? Because that tends to impact smaller colleges and universities a lot more than the bigger ones. And so this year, being able to see that budget process from the inside rather than somebody could advocate for a specific big piece of it was really great. And so it’ll be interesting to watch how some of that plays out. The other thing that I thought was very important was to finally give our state employees right now, our turnover rate for state offices is insane. It’s like anywhere from 30% to 40% turnover rate. And unfortunately, that’s really hindered a lot of our programs. And I was actually really happy to support the governor’s priority in making sure that we the resources that they pay for through their taxes.

[0:08:51] Rico Figliolini: Yeah, the process could be interesting. Right from the inside, you see competing interests. It’s not like someone lobbying for something, a nonprofit lobbying for a budget and not knowing what the competing aspects are on the other side of that. Because you can’t pay for everything, even with the $6 billion surplus. Because I could see paying one time capital expenses and stuff, but then putting it into a budget where it’s going to come back around again in operating budget like the next year, will you have that surplus still or will you have to cut it then? So, yeah, interesting. Scott, aside from the budget, where are you on some other issues?

[0:09:32] Scott Hilton: So I had a great session. It was fun being back the second time because you were a little bit dangerous. You actually knew what you were doing. And so I managed to pass three bills, introduced nine total, sponsored a number of bills, but yeah, managed to pass three House bills that I directly authored, and then three Senate bills that I sponsored. The one that I was kind of most passionate about this time around that did end up passing was involved with financial fraud. So we’ve all gotten the email, right, hey, I’m a Nigerian prince from wherever, and then all of a sudden your money is gone. Prior to House Bill 219, which I authored, we would have to refer that case, that criminal case, to wherever the criminal is, wherever the assets are that he stole. Now we can prosecute that case here in Georgia, delivering much needed justice for the victims of financial crimes. I’m in the banking industry, so it’s all too prevalent. We see it all the time now. So giving victims the tools they need to get justice here in the state was big. So, yeah, excited about Housebook.

[0:10:39] Rico Figliolini: It’s interesting. The Nigerian example is an extreme example, but I’ve seen phishing emails that just look like real emails from companies that used to be how did they even send that out? Even I can make a better looking email, like, closer look into the real thing than I was getting. But now it’s just unbelievable. You really have to be careful where it’s coming from. And those things can be hidden even in the email. So you might think you see the right address, like Apple, but the hyperlink inside it could be different. So it’s just like a mess out there just giving out your password and payments.

[0:11:20] Scott Hilton: Fortunately, it’s our seniors and elder community that typically lead as primary target or victims. And so to provide them with these protections, I think was so important.

[0:11:28] Rico Figliolini: Oh, cool. Yes. Because I could see that happening. So that would work even on things like where I get an email, I get an email, I get a text message. Looks like it’s from Amazon, says, you’ve been charged for this. You may want to check the link and double check it. And most people will probably click that link, which is not what you should do. Right. So will that legislation also cover those types of things as well?

[0:11:52] Scott Hilton: It will, yeah. So previously what would happen is we would investigate, or police would investigate, find out who that person was. Unfortunately, they would live in California or New York or wherever. We’d have to refer that case to the local jurisdiction. The locals would get it and kind of file it away and nothing would happen. Now we can actually begin to prosecute that person here in Georgia, so we actually see some justice going toward them. So cool. That was exciting. Also, bills that I serve as vice chair of the Education Committee, and we did a lot of work, the Education Committee, this year, two bills in particular to highlight the early literacy bill, moving us back to kind of the science of reading. Mississippi passed the same bill, and they’ve seen dramatic improvements in their reading levels. And so that’s something here in Georgia we’ve got to get back on track with. Kids have got to be on a reading level by third grade here in Georgia. So that and then the Safe Schools Act was important. Included in the budget, another line item we had was for school safety grants, each school getting upwards of about $50,000 per school in our state to keep our schools safe. And so that’s something from an education standpoint, we want good policy, safe schools, and good reading, good literacy in our state. So priorities for all the education committee.

[0:13:12] Rico Figliolini: Cool. Ruwa, I saw you nodding a lot there as far as the Early Dorsey Act.

[0:13:18] Ruwa Romman: Yeah. So on the consumer protection piece of it, there was a great bill that came through along those same lines called SB 73, which is meant finally crack down on Telemarketers. But what this bill does, a lot of these companies will outsource their calling. They’ll have a different company either here in the United States or overseas, do a lot of their marketing, and it’s become very spammy. I mean, we would be hearing this bill during committee hearing, and at least three or four of us would get a spam call in the process of hearing. And so we finally installed last year, but they’ll finally pass this year, that fine company close that loophole to say you’re also responsible for whoever you contract work out to and we’re hoping that we’ll mitigate some of those calls. So it’s exciting to kind of see when things complementary happen that way, where it’s a protection piece and we’re also even looking at the process. And same thing on the literacy bill. I was stoked to see that on the list of things we’re going to talk about today because I always tell people when I learned English here in the US. You start out by looking at pictures and then you kind of piece the pictures to the word. And if you’re dyslexic, you don’t catch that until you pictures away at that point, citizens, third grade, fourth grade, wherever it might be, and they’ve lost out on years of education where somebody could sat down and said, here, let me help you. And the parents that advocated for that were really awesome and they were really fun to talk to. And I always tell people that’s why it’s important to us, because sometimes we don’t realize either something has or an issue that’s there. Those are really great bills.

[0:15:11] Rico Figliolini: Yeah, a lot of good legislation there. The security grants and stuff as well, I think works out. I guess the schools can depending on the school. I think sometimes social media, really. I mean, there have been a lot of school shootings or at least highlighted more in the past year. Right. And that maybe makes people feel like it’s happening more often and maybe it is, but it’s such a small percentage compared to the schools out there. It’s interesting how you want to protect your kids. I have three kids. It’s not an easy thing. You send them out into the world and you expect that they should come back. Good to see that. What about other legislation that you’ve been looking at?

[0:16:00] Ruwa Romman: Yeah, so another one that I looked at this year that really helped me understand the process, kind of see the importance policy conversations in all of this is House Bill 73. So along the same so it’s in this case a House bill, not a Senate Bill 73. When we talk about consumer protections, one of the growing industries is the solar industry. And what we’re finding is sometimes some of these will try to sell something and unfortunately they don’t give their terms up front. And so somebody might end up scammed. They might have these solar panels that don’t work or they don’t have I said on energy, utility, telecoms, which is why I know so much about this. But one of the bills was a consumer protection bill and unfortunately the third section of that bill was going to stand up a whole new office for these companies to purchase. The problem is we already have that. The Secretary of State’s office. People register their businesses through that. The Attorney General has an entire oversight board. And so one of the conversations we had this year was instead of paying for branding office and having redundant spending and all of that, this should be moved under one of these two agencies. And it was really interesting because you don’t really hear about this sort of like bipartisan conversation that happens. And it did pass the House because we wanted to signal that this was an important bill. But then on the Senate side, we started working through to fix that provision so that hopefully next year we can fully pass the bill. But I always tell them, watch the process. Even if you take one bill each year to watch, you’ll learn a lot from this process. And that was one of them.

[0:17:39] Rico Figliolini: Yeah. I mean, even though the House may pass several bills, it’s really the Senate. Then they have to go back and then write change.

[0:17:47] Scott Hilton: Yeah.

[0:17:48] Rico Figliolini: So it could go the other way. Yeah. Talking about those calls, I use T Mobile. And the interesting part is they have a scam likely thing, so they silence calls as it comes in. Sad part is, if it’s a call I need, it goes to voicemail and never makes it to me unless I put it in the address book contact list, rather. But yeah, so that could be a dozen calls like that.

[0:18:11] Scott Hilton: Rico, I’ll jump in. It’s funny, we have a consumer protection theme to the call here today. One of the neat bills we passed was dealing with online renewal transparency. So House Bill 528 basically said, life, listen, it’s so easy to sign up for an online subscription online, and then they make it so difficult to cancel it, right? Like, think about you have to call in, you have to go through all these and so it’s the transparency act that says, listen, if you make it easy to sign up online, you also got to make it easy to cancel online. So I think that’s going to provide a real breath fresh air for a lot of folks from a consumer perspective.

[0:18:47] Rico Figliolini: You know what, I appreciate you saying that, because that just reminded me of my daughter whose membership I was paying at a gym in Johns Creek because she wanted to go up there. It’s only five minutes from here, right? At some point, she ended up going to school and stuff, and I had to cancel it because she wasn’t around. They forced me to come up there in person to cancel the membership, and I said that’s like crazy. I would never have to do that in any other business. Why are you forcing me? And they said, that’s the only way we do it. And they would no matter what I said, they would not let me cancel it on the phone or online. And I had to go literally in person to cancel it, which is crazy.

[0:19:30] Ruwa Romman: Yeah.

[0:19:30] Scott Hilton: I mean, that’s the kind of deceptive stuff that we’re trying to protect people against. Yeah, it’s a very good bill.

[0:19:37] Rico Figliolini: I like that personally. All right, so we’ve been talking consumer protection and stuff. There’s been a few other and we talked a little bit about education. I noticed that in your email, Scott, you also talked about a couple other things like cold case justice and reopening cases. God knows I think we all anyone that’s on social media to any extent or watch certain news programs see, sometimes these cold cases open and DNA prove that that 20 year conviction was an innocent person or that cases are not solved. And because there’s just more cases right after that, everything’s whatever. If the parents if it’s parents, they have to scream the loudest to be able to get any attention. So tell us a little bit about that and what that means to families.

[0:20:32] Scott Hilton: Yes, we have one that did not go through that we’re still working on. When someone is wrongfully convicted and it’s proven that they were, we actually have a compensation program to compensate them for that time they spent. Right now, it’s a very laborious process for that person to receive compensation from the state. We’re streamlining that process, passed the House, got hung up in the Senate. I think we’ll probably get it through next year. Yeah. Victims of cold cases. That bill allows families to petition to have cases reopen when there’s new evidence, again allowing them to receive justice on cold cases there. You touched on education. I did want to highlight one of the cool things we did this year in the budget was we passed yet another $2,000 increase for our teachers. We are in a war for talent right now, just like every other industry. And Georgia now after the last four years, I think we’ve increased teacher pay by about $7,000. So we are now one of the highest states in the Southeast in terms of teacher pay. So really kind of putting our foot forward to say teachers are important and they need to be paid that way. And so really proud of the work we did there. One of the education bills that did not pass that we found to chat about here on the call, ru and I were on opposite sides of this, dealing with school choice.

[0:21:52] Ruwa Romman: We had away with it. Look, I was going to let you go through this whole you know what.

[0:22:01] Scott Hilton: She was super passionate about the other side. This bill would have allowed parents to keep the state portion of their education spending so equivalent to $6,500. This impacted if you had a child in what’s called a failing school. So we rank all our schools. If you’re at all school here in the state, you would have been able to opt out, take your child to either home school, a micro school, a private school, basically an education savings account. And essentially, I view it as a lifeline. The program only kicks into place if our schools are fully funded or our traditional public schools are fully funded, and the local schools get to keep the local portion of their tax digest while not having to educate the student. So, again, critical lifeline to those that are trapped in failing schools.

[0:22:54] Rico Figliolini: I think that legislation, or at least the way you headlined it, was school choice. The Georgia Promise Scholarship Act. Was that the one? I guess. And interesting because I always felt life there was never enough money for someone to actually go to private school, let’s say to choose. But knowing how the school systems work, actually there’s a lot of scholarship programs in private schools and charter schools. So 6500 actually go a long way in some private or charter schools to.

[0:23:24] Scott Hilton: Pay for you’re not sending a kid to 6500. We live in a big state, though, and what we found was private school on average runs, you about 10,000 short. But yes, you also have programs that many of the schools have kind of help bridge that gap, and even the parents themselves can help bridge that gap. We heard there was one parent who literally knocked doors in her local community to raise money to send her kid to private school. So folks are desperate. They want to get out. They want to have and this is something we worked very hard on, fell just a little bit short. I think we’re going to try to get it through again.

[0:24:04] Rico Figliolini: See, Ruwa jumping here. She wants to get right into the.

[0:24:11] Ruwa Romman: I’ve become the unintended consequences queen of the House floor because I’ll go up and I’ll talk about why a bill is bad, but specifically implementation. We talk a lot. I tell people all the time I had an incredible public experience, particularly in Foresight County public schools. You literally have your pick of programs from culinary school to IV program to tech, and they’re all publicly funded. And I didn’t have to pay a cent growing up to choose between those options. What we’re seeing is the culmination of all public education. And rather than saying, you know what, it’s time to reverse course, we’re saying, let’s just take that money and put it somewhere else. And that’s going to leave a lot of people behind. And there are co provisions within this bill in particular that give me pause. The first is that piece about how we’re only looking at the bottom 25% of schools. No matter what list you make, there’s always going to be a bottom 25%. So even if they meet basic standards, even if these schools do meet the thresholds we’re asking them to, they could still be the last 25%. The other piece to this is, as we mentioned, there is actually a gap for that funding. So even if you covered half of it with this scholarship and then the other half of the scholarship from the school itself, there’s still other factors that would prevent somebody who’s trying to get out of that low income area from going to that school. And that includes things like transportation, which is why a lot of studies have found that unfortunately, private schools are not the answer to some of the woes that we’re seeing in public education. And they’re very real. Don’t get me wrong. They’re very real. And there’s a reason a lot of people voted against this bill across the aisle. It’s because we knew that either our districts didn’t qualify for this, so it meant money going out of our districts for this or that. They didn’t have a private school that qualified within a span of area that was feasible to get to every day for their child. And so I always urge people, I say, things sound good, they might have a good title, a bill might look great on paper. But when you think about the actual implementation, the flow of money, I’m actually worried that this bill is going to take away from students. And the last piece I tell people is, on average, we spend half of that per pupil from the state. And that’s just like pupil to people. I’m not talking about everything else that we spend. I’m talking about the spend per student that we’re talking about here is almost half of that $500.

[0:26:42] Rico Figliolini: You’re talking from the state side versus the county.

[0:26:46] Ruwa Romman: And I think a lot about what that could mean in terms of potentially taking more money up than you’re putting in, and the fact that private schools don’t have the same standards that requirements in terms of entry as public schools, that gets fixed. And I’m hoping we get a fiscal note to figure out how much fully this will cost. So in the meantime, I’m a pretty hard no on that bill.

[0:27:12] Rico Figliolini: Let me ask you something. I know that charter schools is a big thing that people look at too, and there was a movement to stop charter schools, let’s say stop funding them, and charter schools actually become good ones. At least there’s always a bad actor in anything, right? So you always get the bad example in these types of things. But they’re really good charter schools in neighborhoods that could work, in poorer neighborhoods, let’s say, where maybe the school is not performing the way they should be. And the charter school puts it into a different light, a different way. And some people may look at it and say, well, it’s still a school, it’s still same teachers, maybe, but there’s a different mission in the charter school, right? You want to give these children the opportunity. I’ve seen, I’ve done sometimes career days at middle schools, for example, and it’s like unbelievable, the difference in the kids and who’s paying attention and who’s not. And it’s a shame because I could pick out out of class of 30, maybe two or three that are excited about what they’re seeing. And I could see that they’re going to go far, and then you could see the five or six kids that totally just not learning. And it may just not be their fault even. It may just be the way things are taught.

[0:28:30] Scott Hilton: So the beauty of charter schools is they get more flexibility. So they’re publicly funded, so they are public schools, they get more flexibility in how they’re able to operate and teach, but along with that comes more accountability, right? So if a public charter school is failing, they’re closed, whereas a traditional public school, if they’re failing, we give them more money. There’s the beauty in that fight to survive and be excellent in everything they do. And on average, our charter schools far exceed our traditional public schools with less money. They receive less money than traditional public schools. So it’s proven the model, the model works. We have thousands of Georgians on waitlist across the state to join charter schools. We actually have one, I believe they’re still here in Peace Corners, right off Spaulding version. Their students come and they learn Japanese. That’s how they have that flexibility to do that. And they’re doing amazing things, producing great scholars.

[0:29:33] Rico Figliolini: They have over 240 kids, I think, there, and they’re doing a great job. When I first heard about the Japanese immersion school, I was like, really interesting to go that way, but they’re doing phenomenally well.

[0:29:46] Ruwa Romman: We’ve talked about this previously, but I think once before, where honestly, to me personally, I think one of the places that we can absolutely save costs and be able to retain better talent within our school system is to reduce the amount of standardized testing that kids have to take these days. Because the reason kids aren’t able to learn in a flexible, critical thinking type of way is they spend sometimes up to 45% of their time on testing and preparing for testing and doing the testing. And I understand that we need to have metrics, but now it’s becoming redundant metrics. And if we want that flexibility, if we want to be able to bring some of that overhead out and reduce some of those administrative costs that we’re seeing that are ballooning across the board, that’s one way we can do it. And I always urge people, and I say, look, it’s easy to build something new and shiny and it’s easy to tear things down, and it’s a lot harder. There are people making decisions about education that have never set foot in the classroom and have never taught before, and that’s a mental element of education, is that we are teaching students. The basic premise to my stance is, if this takes an opportunity from another child, I can’t in good conscience vote for it, because then I’m just helping perpetuate the spiral downward. Now, that doesn’t have out of whatever school that they are assigned to. This is, can we find a way to help that school rather than building a whole new one with all that money and then bringing in brand new talent? No, we should just bring that talent to the school that’s already existing and bring some of that work in house rather than outsourcing it kind of interesting.

[0:31:40] Rico Figliolini: I think any parent that’s gone to the PTAs and schools and stuff over the years can see. I think if you’re intelligent enough, you don’t necessarily have to be an educator to be able to see when something’s not working. To me we all talk about. I think we all can agree that the formative years are the early years of a child. And I just wish that there was more money spent in that early part and that the classrooms are smaller even. Because once you get past, like my life says, sometimes they pick up from you what they’re doing. And I said, well, they’re past that eight year mark, so they’re not picking up anything more from me at this point. But it’s that example that leadership, not just from the teacher, but from the students themselves. And it takes work, right? It takes work to do that. The standardized testing is a lazy way. It worked at one point, I think, nationally, when we had no testing, when a kid in California applying for a college, with a kid in Georgia applying for a college, there needed to be some sort of standard way. But I agree with you. I think what it comes down to now is money. Who’s getting the multimillion dollar contracts to do these tests? It’s just ridiculous. At some point that the money that’s spent to test on kids, they’re not teaching well enough. The obvious thing is to spend the money there. I agree with that.

[0:33:14] Scott Hilton: One of the things we worked on in education, kind of outside of the school a little bit, I became kind of a de facto swimming guy this year. I had a couple of swimming related bills. One of the leading causes of death of children under the age of 18 is swimming accidents. And so I sponsored two bills, one that both have passed, one that uses our schools to disseminate information out to the community. Hey, here’s local resources where you can get for free swimming lessons. I think about Petrie corners, particularly the YMCA. If you want to go and get a swimming lesson, we offer it, and so a lot of people just don’t know about it. And so schools now, at the beginning of the year, will give out the parents, either a flyer electronically, information on where they can get free swimming lessons near them, and then also pass Izzy’s Law, which deals with private swim instruction. We had a case here in Georgia, private swim instructor was teaching 25 kids. One of them got loose, and you know what kind of happened from there. So it puts definitions around. Okay, when you’re doing private swim, what’s the ratio? Teachers to students and all that to kind of avoid that situation moving forward.

[0:34:24] Rico Figliolini: Yeah. More regulation sometimes is needed. I know people say sometimes we over regulate, but that type of thing you really do. There’s just too many people that just do their own thing irresponsible. We just assume people are responsible when they offer those lessons, but we don’t know. Right. There’s no way to grade them. Like going to a doctor that might have gotten a C at Columbia versus someone that got an A somewhere. We’ll never know that.

[0:34:52] Scott Hilton: It’s one of those industries we just didn’t have any kind of guardrails around. We’re getting close to summer here. That’s one of the important things here.

[0:34:59] Rico Figliolini: I’m glad you brought that up. Thank you, Scott. Ruwa. I know we’re getting a little long here, so I don’t know if I should introduce this subject, but I’m going to anyway. So there’s the gender thing. I say the gender thing because it depends who you talk to and what part of that subject, what part of that topic, whether it’s young kids under 18 I know you were involved with SB 140, I think you mentioned that, which bans gender dysphoria treatments for kids under 18. I have my opinion. I’ll leave it to myself. But I’d like to hear what you would say, Ruwa, about that, what that means.

[0:35:41] Ruwa Romman: Yeah. So, again, going back to unintended consequences, you’ll hear me say this a lot. What we’ve seen is this movement targeting particularly those who identify as trans. And we have a finite amount of time every session. We’ve got 40 days between January to March. There are a lot of bills that end up not passing. And for whatever reason, this has become the topic of the day. And the reason I’m particularly sensitive to it is last year, one of the bills that was passed was to enable the High School Association board, sports association board, to ban students who identify as trans from playing in the sport as their identified gender, instead of the gender that they were assigned at birth. And the reason I’m sensitive to that is, I’m not trans. This is not something that I ever experienced. But that bill was written in the same way that allowed the schools to ban hijab wearing girls from playing sports. So I’ve always been particularly attuned and sensitive to any bills that talk about a minority group when that minority group is not present within those that are making those decisions. And so this was one of those bills. We had a long committee hearing on it, although it had to be truncated because we were running out of time at that point. And I took that as an opportunity to listen, because this is not something that I’m familiar with. And the thing that there was a moment where those who had ever experienced any sort of gender dysphoria as under the age of 18 and had received treatment, whether that’s hormone replacement therapy or surgery after 18 if they regretted their decision. And then they were also asked, is there anybody that falls within that category and does not regret their decision? In the span of the process of this bill moving through, they have not found a single person, especially within the state of Georgia, that regrets receiving that treatment, particularly starting under the age of 18. I was sitting in that committee hearing. We waited for quite a bit of time to allow people to come to committee room to come testify on this. But the people who did not regret their decision were overall present in that room. To me, as a legislature who doesn’t have experience on this issue, that signals to me that I am trying to deal with something that I do not understand. There’s been, frankly, quite a bit of graphic conversation about what this means with gender reassignment surgery for those under 18. And I have to remind them that we do not perform those surgeries in Georgia. Adults are unable to find the treatments that they need because it is so rare in our state. But one of the unintended consequences of this bill, not only does it ban something that doesn’t exist, it bans hormone replacement therapies, which do have long term impacts, but it’s not surgery. And there was a provision within the bill that was struck out that would have prevented essentially a new crime from being created against doctors. That provision that would have had a safeguard within the bill was removed. And there’s a reason there’s unanimous consent within medical professionals opposing this bill. We had one endocrinologist come and testify, saying that she does not recommend formal replacement therapy for those under 18 after doing something. She does not treat people with gender dysphoria. She refers them out. And she has kind of gone on the speaking circuit on this. So for me personally, obviously, I’m not trans. It doesn’t impact me personally. I don’t have siblings who are trans or family members who are trans. But I’m incredibly suspect when people who are not impacted by something create laws about that thing.

[0:39:24] Rico Figliolini: Scott, how do you feel about that?

[0:39:27] Scott Hilton: Great question. We talk a lot about on this call, protecting children and the innocence of childhood. For me, this is a very simple issue. We should not be performing irreversible treatments on prepubescent children. For me, again, it’s pretty black and white. This was one of the easier votes we voted on. I think it’s sad what’s happening to some of these kids. I was on that committee hearing, served on the healthcare committee. We had a mom testify at four years old. Her daughter started exhibiting, and then at seven, I think they started some form of treatments. Again, as a dad of three kids, I can’t imagine what’s being done to some of these kids.

[0:40:17] Ruwa Romman: That’s actually very unfair, because I know that parent, and she and I spoke after because I really wanted more information from her. They did not start treatment at seven years old. What they did was they had the child meet with therapists and psychiatrists and an extensive team of both mental health and physical health professionals to understand if there were any other underlying issues before as they neared puberty, which was twelve to 13 years old, they then began discussing potential treatments. The child is not old enough to even receive hormone blockers, let alone hormone replacement therapy. Her conversation was this bill would prevent the child, if they reach that point, from being able to pursue the next step in their care should they need it. And I think again, this is why I say if you’re able to see something that’s a medical issue in black and white when there are so many degrees of gray, that gives me one of the things I hadn’t even thought about is was brought up during the committee hearing was that sometimes younger women, even under the age of 18, require breast reduction surgery because it creates intense back problems. It literally can create scoliosis, it can be paralyzing, and this bill could potentially impact that. And again, my question is, we have so many things we need to worry about. You’re talking about twelve families in the entire state that this could apply to just past the $32 billion budget. It’s guaranteed that we’re willing to use State Farm.

[0:41:47] Rico Figliolini: That’s what I was going to ask also in that committee meeting, how many people actually are affected by this legislation? In the state of Georgia, you would think there are hundreds of people impacted by this. The same way I think when it comes to gender and sports, how many people in school are actually impacted by that legislation? Yeah, sometimes I think our priorities get a little mixed up. That’s my opinion as far as what should be at the top and stuff, but I get it. Listen, we all have things that we want to discuss. Talk about this 300 plus. How many legislators are they now?

[0:42:25] Ruwa Romman: We’re 176. There’s like four empty.

[0:42:33] Rico Figliolini: 300 number I think is counties, then Georgia or something like that.

[0:42:41] Scott Hilton: 180 in the House, 56 in the Senate. I cover about 60,000 folks. Roughly about 40,000 voter or people registered to vote. Yeah.

[0:42:51] Rico Figliolini: Interesting. We were talking a little before about.

[0:42:53] Ruwa Romman: I need more people voting. Not enough of you. Vote local election, please.

[0:42:59] Rico Figliolini: Yeah, but if you’re going to vote, please look at the issues, read the stuff. Don’t just vote just because you think it’s like, I want educated voters also someone that knows what they’re doing. At least we’re out of time almost here. So what I’d like to do is we can keep going on, but I’m sure that if our listeners have any comments that would be putting it in the comments section once this is streamed out there, and certainly to the tail end of this. So I’m going to ask both of you to give me like one or two minute recap and then how people can reach either one of you. And I’ll make sure those are in the show notes as well. So why don’t you put you guys on and tell me what you need to tell us. Let’s start with Scott this time.

[0:43:47] Scott Hilton: Thank you, Rico, for having us. When I ran for office, you heard me say over and over again, I was laser focused on three things our economy, public safety, and education, and so fulfilled those promises this session. Look forward to continuing to fill those next session. Really focused on keeping our community safe, our schools strong, and doing what we need to from a financial standpoint to help you and your family navigate this economy. I’m going to continue to be effective for you, but most importantly, I’m going to continue to be accessible for you. You can reach me on all the social media platforms, ScottHiltonGA. ScottHiltonGA is where we are on Facebook, twitter, and instagram. If you go to my website, Scotthiltonga.com, you’ll see my cell phone number. And really, it’s not just from a policy perspective. I have folks reach out to me who need help with medicaid, with department of transportation, anything you might need from a state perspective, department of revenue, secretary of state, let me know at the second time. We’re out of session right now, but I have families reach out to me, Scott. I got a break in the summer. I don’t know what to do with the kids. Let me take them down the capital, give them a tour, give them behind the scenes look, all that stuff, I love doing all that stuff. I want to be as engaged as possible for you and our community, and you’ll see me about doing town halls and things like that. But whatever you need over the next nine months until we go back in January, you can find me. I’m out there and would love to help you out. It’s truly an honor to serve you in our community.

[0:45:23] Rico Figliolini: Cool.

[0:45:24] Ruwa Romman: All of that. Although we’re in session January through end of March, it’s actually the best time to set up meetings with us, talk to us about policy issues that you care about, because then we could dig really deep into them and prepare ahead of the next session. I’m actually wrapping up a round of town halls now. We’ll probably be doing them throughout the year as well, so be on the lookout for those. You can find me at Ruwa, the number four, Georgia on all the social media handles. For our website, there’s a form you can submit that will email my phone directly. And my team and I are always here to help in whatever way that you need. I’ve got really hit it on the head is that one of the things that people don’t realize is we can help you on the department level. We can support you if you’re not hearing back from somebody, if you’re not getting what you need, use us. And please come down in the Capitol. Whether it’s during session or outside of session, I’ve loved taking people and telling them about the process and showing them how they can have an impact. Anyone can come and testify before committee. Anyone can be in this. It is called the People’s House for a reason, and I really hope to see you there and around the district.

[0:46:29] Rico Figliolini: Cool. I want to just let people know also that you both have newsletters, so they should certainly sign up for those. This way they can see what’s going on. I know you send them out regularly. That’s why there’s no reason anyone should be ignorant about House bills and such and certainly constituent efforts. Like you both have said. If you need any help with state agencies, these two will be able to help you.

[0:46:55] Scott Hilton: Let me slide this in real quick. I failed to mention my biggest accomplishment this session. The Atlanta Journal had the listing of the best dressed legislators. Truly was named. One of them, Ruwa, was robbed. She should have been on that list. So next year she’s going to be on it. It’s fun being down there representing our community.

[0:47:13] Rico Figliolini: It’s fun. It’s good to have you guys on the podcast too. And I love it when Scott gets red faced. He’s almost like basketball. It’s so it’s great to have you guys on. Thank you again. And Scott, thank you again for suggesting that this would be a great podcast to have the three of us together like this. Everyone, leave your comments in the comment section and reach out to these two. They’ll be more than willing to help. Thank you again and have a great day.

[0:47:48] Ruwa Romman: Thank you.

[0:47:49] Rico Figliolini: Bye.

Continue Reading

Peachtree Corners Life

Peachtree Corners Development Pressures Lead to a Moratorium and More Proactive City Planning



This episode features special guest Shaun Adams, Peachtree Corners’ new Community Development Director who continues as Assistant City Attorney. Shaun’s responsibilities include identifying areas that could benefit from redevelopment, planning, administering, and implementing redevelopment projects, and helping to identify and obtain public funding for projects. Part of our discussions include the 6-month moratorium on new residential development in the central business district which reflects a reassessment of the city’s needs. Included in the podcast discussion was a discussion on zoning and development, emerging market trends, navigating development pressures, and community and business roles. Hosted by Rico Figliolini.

Related Links
Redevelopment Authority of Peachtree Corners: https://www.peachtreecornersga.gov/21… Peachtree Corners City Meeting Calendar: https://www.peachtreecornersga.gov/Ca…

00:00:00 – Shaun Adams: New Community Development Director
00:01:21 – Peachtree Corners Resident Balances Legal and Community Roles
00:03:26 – Community Development: Zoning, Permitting, and Collaboration
00:07:24 – Adapting City Codes to Changing Needs
00:09:54 – Adapting Zoning to Emerging Market Trends
00:12:37 – Navigating Zoning Overlays and Mixed-Use Developments
00:15:07 – Examining Zoning and Development Trends
00:20:01 – The Impact of COVID-19 on Cities and the Growth of Smaller Communities 00:21:30 – Navigating Development Pressures and Public Input
00:25:28 – Leveraging Comprehensive Plans for Strategic Development
00:29:43 – Exploring Proactive City Planning
00:32:23 – Upcoming Agenda and Code Updates
00:33:57 – Upcoming Planning Commission and City Council Meetings

Continue Reading

Peachtree Corners Life

Why Baron Reinhold is Running for Gwinnett County Sheriff



“You have to have a force that people want to join, and that is incumbent upon the leader to create the environment where people love to work. Where they know that their boss has their back. They know that their boss is looking out for their career. They’re invested in training, equipping them, and so on.” Baron Reinhold talks about his run to be the next Gwinnett County Sheriff.

Baron Reinhold, who has a 30-year military background, discusses his varied experiences in the Navy, including leadership roles in nuclear command and reconnaissance. He aims to enhance transparency and accountability within the sheriff’s department through measures like budget audits and public forums. He stresses the importance of restoring public trust by addressing organizational issues promptly and effectively, including staffing shortages and jail safety concerns. Listen in with your host Rico Figliolini.

00:00:00 – Baron Reinhold’s Extensive Military and Community Service
00:01:53 – From Naval Academy to Military Consulting: A Military Career Spanning Decades
00:04:50 – Running for Gwinnett County Sheriff
00:07:05 – Addressing Gwinnett County’s Challenges
00:10:14 – Lack of Transparency in Sheriff’s Budget
00:12:21 – Implementing Command Climate Surveys for Organizational Improvement
00:14:14 – Navigating Jail Budget and Safety Challenges
00:18:21 – Understaffed Jail Struggles with Inmate Safety
00:21:56 – Importance of Effective Leadership in Law Enforcement
00:24:13 – Addressing Staffing Challenges in Law Enforcement
00:28:12 – The Sheriff’s Role in Upholding Constitutional Rights
00:31:20 – Balancing Constitutional Rights and Public Health
00:34:40 – Abuse of Public Funds for Personal Branding
00:36:28 – Exploring Alternatives to Traditional Law Enforcement
00:38:54 – Experienced and Qualified Candidate for Gwinnett County Sheriff


Rico Figliolini 0:00:29

Hi, everyone. This is Rico Figliollini, host of Peachtree Corners Life here in the city of Peachtree Corners in Gwinnett county. And lately we’ve had election candidates on the show. Today we have a special candidate who’s running for Gwinnett county sheriff. His name is Baron Reinhold. Hey, Baron, thanks for joining us.

Baron Reinhold 0:00:48

Thanks. It’s great to be on your show.

Rico Figliolini 0:00:49

Yeah, no, I appreciate you being here with us. Barron has a long resume of participation in all sorts of things, certainly in the military. Right. And different posts, different positions that you’ve been in, from everything from a professor of naval science to director of military community management, you’ve been part of nuclear command and control operations, team three. I was looking at that. I was like, wow. Squadron commanding officer, United States Air Force. You on the admiral staff in Bahrain, I guess, during deployment in 2003 to 2004, is that correct?

Baron Reinhold 0:01:32

Well, there’s about three different things in there. I was at US strategic command, and I was also on, that was a combatant command in Omaha, Nebraska, but I was also on an admiral staff out in Bahrain for two years and another admiral staff in Norfolk for two years.

Rico Figliolini 0:01:48

Okay. Yeah. And the list goes on. It’s just. It’s an expansive list of accomplishments. And you’ve been involved in a lot of volunteer work in organizations quite involved in Europe. Some of the past groups included Boy scouts, Kiwanis club. But what I’d like you to do is tell us a little bit about yourself, beyond the resume, if you will, and you know what you’re currently doing, and give us a brief, a little bit about that.

Baron Reinhold 0:02:18

Sure. Well, thanks again, Rico.

Rico Figliolini 0:02:19


Baron Reinhold 0:02:19

My background, I joined the Navy right out of high school. I enlisted for a year and then went to the Naval Academy prep school that year, and then on to the naval academy when I graduated from there. I ended up going to flight school, finishing up flight school, and spent 30, 30 years as an officer all over the world. Just kind of look at the last half of my career, which is most of my senior leadership positions. Right after 911, I was the officer in charge of a number of combat detachments. Our squadron got surged for the next 20 years, doing the most important missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia. And after that, I was on that admiral staff, brought the family out to Bahrain, right there in the Gulf region. It was a couple years there, then was in charge of global strike planning at US strategic command for two years. Then the third year there, I was the deputy commander’s executive assistant, went on to command the nation’s, one of the nation’s two highest reconnaissance squadrons, and again spent most of that time in Afghanistan. And then was the officer in charge or the senior officer on the nuclear command and control 747. So, literally, if we had nuclear war, we would be at a different base every night, were constantly on the move. And if nuclear war happened, our ground nodes would be gone, and I would personally be briefing with the president on his nuclear options and executing his war orders from the 747. So that was totally different than my reconnaissance days over land in the combat zones. And anyway, then from there, I went on to command a unit that was in charge of the entire Navy’s 388,000 community management. So we made sure that the entire Navy, over a moving 30 year period, was properly manned in every subspecialty, which was a pretty wild job. And then I finished up, like you said, I was the commanding officer of NROTC Atlanta region. So I had a battalion at Morehouse that had Spelman and Clark Atlanta attached to that, and then a battalion at Georgia Tech that Georgia state and Kennesaw state attached. And we trained all the naval officers and, you know, future Marine Corps officers at those six schools. So that’s kind of a quick 35 year round the horn.

Rico Figliolini 0:04:41

Yeah. Where did you originally come from, Baron? Where did you.

Baron Reinhold 0:04:46

I was born in Rochester, New York, but we moved around a lot when I was a kid, and we settled in Miami when I was in first grade. So I considered Miami until Hurricane Andrew wiped out the house, and my family moved up to Melbourne, Florida. By then, though, I was out of the house and in the navy, blasting around the world. So Miami was the home that I grew up in.

Rico Figliolini 0:05:06

Gotcha. And when did you move back, actually, to. When did you move to Atlanta? Let’s put it.

Baron Reinhold 0:05:12

Well, we did 16 moves since I’ve been married, which is, you know, that’s kind of wild to think about. My oldest daughter did 15 of those. So we moved here in 2015, built a house here in Gwinnett in Suwanee, and, you know, made the commute down 95 or 85, rather, every day. So I got up really, really early, got down there before the traffic got insane. And we usually either try to beat the traffic home or stay until the traffic that dissipated.

Rico Figliolini 0:05:42

Yeah, God knows the traffic has continued to build. Doesn’t disappear.

Baron Reinhold 0:05:48

Yep. But when I heard January 1 of 2020 and then since then, I started a consulting business. So I still do a lot of work down in Pensacola, which is the cradle of naval aviation, which has been a lot of fun because all the senior officers down there, you know, buddies of mine and the admirals and whatnot, and then the students, a lot of them were my former students at my Georgia Tech and Morehouse battalion. So I always get together with them. So I’ve got both ends of the spectrum. The senior most, the junior most people every time I go down there.

Rico Figliolini 0:06:21

That must be fascinating. My youngest wants to go into military history. He’s actually attending Kennesaw. Not quite the place for that, but that’s where he’s starting at, right? Yeah, he’s all into. Especially prior to World War two. World War two and prior, actually, that part. So it’s fascinating to be able to see and talk to people that are involved. So your consulting work is still with the military, I’m assuming? Correct. Okay. And so I guess the biggest question. The first question would be, why? Why run for Gwinnett county sheriff then? Why run for that post? Why do you see that you need to do that?

Baron Reinhold 0:07:05

Well, I mean, really, there are a lot of reasons. First, we did exhaustive study. We could have lived anywhere we wanted to when we moved here, and we did a lot of study, a lot of research, and Gwinnett county was the place to move to, you know, in 2015. And, you know, it’s been great. And, you know, we’ve seen a lot of changes, and almost all of those have been in the wrong direction in the last three to four years, whether it’s, you know, school board problems or taxation rates, you know, we have high. I think, well, I don’t think. I know. We had the highest number of people, you know, having a problem with their property taxes and appealing those. So those are going the wrong direction. And then certainly crime and just everything that the sheriff’s office is supposed to be doing, they’re failing in a major way. And so seeing what Butch Conway did for a quarter century and then seeing what’s happened since Sheriff Taylor took over, it’s night and day, and any county can only really be as good as the sheriff and the law enforcement. And since the sheriff is the senior law enforcement officer in the county, that’s a direct reflection on who’s doing that job. So, bottom line is, I think Sheriff Taylor’s doing a horrible job, and I think I can do. I think I could turn the county around completely.

Rico Figliolini 0:08:27

Now, the sheriff, so then people understand the difference, right? Gwinnett county police and the sheriff department. Two separate entities. Right. Gwinnett county police has the police officers that arrive on the scene of a crime that patrol the streets and stuff. Right. Gwinnett county sheriff has other responsibilities, including the jail system, serving subpoenas and such. Right? Correct. So two different. Just want people to know that two different areas. One of the things that, quite frankly, to my audience, we’re not fact checking any of this, but Baron is one of two candidates running. We have the incumbent, Sheriff Kebo, and we have Baron running. One of the things you want to do, based on what you’re saying, is that you want to be able to do full audit. How will you ensure that the audit’s done correctly and that it’s. That it’s open, impartial, transparent. How would you plan to do that?

Baron Reinhold 0:09:30

Well, just one thing before we go on. There’s actually five people running against the incumbent right now.

Rico Figliolini 0:09:37

I’m sorry, you’re right.

Baron Reinhold 0:09:39

So there’s three.

Rico Figliolini 0:09:40


Baron Reinhold 0:09:41

Unfortunately, it’s a partisan race, which I don’t think it should be, but I guess people aren’t interested in what I think on that. So there’s two Republicans and three other Democrats that are running against the incumbent on the Democrat side. But so, obviously, nobody is happy with how he’s doing, otherwise we wouldn’t have so many people running for that position. But, yeah, so the issue is when Butch Conway, who was the sheriff for 24 years here in Gwinnett county, who incidentally, endorsed me over all the other candidates, even though a couple of them worked for him or with him, one of them worked directly for him for about twelve years. Butch, when he left, he had a budget of $105 million. Right now, Sheriff Taylor has a budget of about $170 million, and he’s got almost about half of the deputies and jailers have left. So he’s got a force that’s half the size, and he’s got a budget that’s $65 million ish more. And so there’s money being spent in crazy places. Obviously. We know that from day one when he repainted all the sheriff’s cars with his name on the back of them. Again, a waste of taxpayers money. But there’s a lot. Where is the money? That’s the whole issue. You can’t trust government, you can’t trust law enforcement when money’s being squandered on frivolous things. And you can’t. I mean, I’ve put in all kinds of requests for, you know, freedom of information act stuff, but I didn’t know that you have to pay for all that. So I figure, okay, I’m a taxpayer. I want to know where this money’s being spent, or I want to know how many. How many deputies we’ve lost every year for the last four years. And, you know, if you want to know that, which is right on a spreadsheet, you got to pay $150, or you got to pay this, or they slow you the information, even if you do pay. So those kinds of things are frustrating. You know, you talked about transparency. I mean, I want to do an audit. You’d have a professional, reputable agency come in and do that, or organization and find out where all this money’s been spent. I mean, if you ground zero of building trust with the citizens of the county, it’s based on knowing facts. And I can’t find facts. And I’m in this race without paying a lot of money. So I think we need to do this audit. We need to flip the table, make it public facing, even if it’s pretty damning, whatever the results are of that, the public needs to know. And you need to snap a chalk line and say, okay, this is what happened before. This is when I took over. And this is what happens from here on out. And it’s not just a budgetary chalk line. I’m talking about in the Navy, every time a commanding officer takes over, they do something called a command climate survey. And again, that’s snapping another chalk line, but that’s more typically with personnel and programs. So what that does is the entire unit gets to give an anonymous. Takes an anonymous survey that’s very in depth. And then they get a free flow. They can type whatever they want at the end of that. And so as a new CEO coming in, new commanding officer coming in, you get the results of all that, and you get to see, okay, if it’s just one or two things, you know, maybe it’s a. You know, maybe it’s not all that important, but it’s good to know. But if there’s huge blocks of ink on, okay, this is a major problem, then it gives you, the new person, the information you need to, a, know that there’s a problem, b, address that, bring all your people in and say, this is obviously a huge issue here in this command. Here is my plan. You bring in people so you can all talk about what that issue is, what the background, why there’s that problem, and then come up with a solution. And then you brief personally, as the CEO, you brief all your different levels of rank, and then you give them an opportunity to give you feedback face to face. And so those kinds of things are critically important for a new boss coming in. And we will do something like that, not only with the people who are currently at the sheriff’s office, the deputies and jailers, but I’ll have surveys sent out to those that left because obviously they left for a reason, and I know why a lot, a lot of them left because I’ve talked to scores of them. So that’s important information.

Rico Figliolini 0:14:04

Sure. I would imagine also that a place like the county jail system, the sheriff system department, I mean, if they’re, if they’re expending money, there’s probably usually bids for certain things, contractual bids. There’s discretionary funds that can be spent on certain things because you don’t want to hamstring a department. There’s usually a budget level where you can spend money up to before it needs to go out on a bid system or some other thing. It could be in $170 million. Budget could be complicated doing that. It could take some months doing that. In the meantime, whatever you find, like you said, you will be able to address at that point. In the meantime, while that’s happening, because that could take several months, you’re going to be hitting the ground. You would hit the ground running. I know there was some other things that you were talking about, like measures that would implement, that you might implement to improve safety and reduce high rates of inmate injuries or deaths in the jail. Has that been an issue? Now, I haven’t myself looked at those issues. So tell us a little bit about that, about what you’re looking at and what you would implement day one for that week. Right.

Baron Reinhold 0:15:23

So right off the bat, well, literally on day one, during his press conference, Sheriff Taylor implemented. He did away with something called the rapid response team. So the rapid response team are trained personnel where if there is an issue going sideways and deputy is in danger or a jailer is in danger, then the rapid response team is rapid. They’re in there within seconds and making sure that you, you know, the deputies are okay and that the inmates are okay, too, because, you know, obviously, if things get out of control, people are getting hurt. So you take away the most important tool of, on day one of how to keep your own personnel safe, and you give them no tools to replace that. It turned into an immediate catastrophe. I mean, one of the people that’s been helping me on my campaign was the 2019 deputy of the year, and she was in the, in our jail, which is one of the biggest in the country as a jailer for, you know, I think, 18 years. And so she was training other deputies and other jailers how to do their job, not only ours, but, you know, other sheriffs would send theirs in, too. And they begged her to stay on and continue training. She was going to leave when Sheriff Conway left. She stayed on for six. Well, she stay. Asked her to stay for six months. She agreed to, and within two weeks, she left. Now, she left because she saw what was going on and how she saw the writing on the wall immediately that, okay, we’ve got no way to maintain control because, you know, if we’re, if people are getting hurt, we can’t protect ourselves, let alone the inmates.

Rico Figliolini 0:17:02

And let me ask you a question, though. Obviously, I would imagine when Sheriff Akibo came in, there was a reason why he stopped it because there might have been, there was all these things going on right there.

Baron Reinhold 0:17:15

Well, yeah. He said if you go back and read the news clips in 2019, 2020, his justification for that was that there were some charges leveled against the rapid response team of using excessive force. And if that’s true or if that’s not true is a new leader. You come in and you, you, you deal with the problem. What he did was he came in and got rid of the tool. He even said, hey, it’s a good tool, but it’s being misused. So, you know, you don’t get rid of the tool. You, if people were being abusive, then you discipline them or you fire them and you keep the tool and you train more with those data points to make sure that, you know, abuse isn’t taking place.

Rico Figliolini 0:18:00

Okay, fair enough.

Baron Reinhold 0:18:01

But obviously, you don’t come in and you undercut your, your entire, all of your deputies and all of your jailers and don’t give them any tools to maintain control of the jail. So as they started leaving, things just have continued to spiral out of control. A jail that is supposed to have about 50 people per shift currently has about 20 people per shift. They used to have, the inmates used to have 8 hours a day out of the cell. Now they’ve got 1 hour a day. They’re locked up 23 hours a day. It’s crazy what’s going on in the jail right now.

Rico Figliolini 0:18:34

It seems like there’s not enough people. I know I’ve spoken to people in the Gwinnett police and such. There’s budget money there to hire, but there’s not enough applicants should say qualified applicants.

Baron Reinhold 0:18:47

Well, that’s only part of the issue. I mean, yes, law enforcement has had its challenges since 2020, but the reality is if you are an. An agency or a sheriff’s office that is, you know, is led by a good leader, then guess what? People don’t leave.

Rico Figliolini 0:19:07

People come there.

Baron Reinhold 0:19:08

So what we have seen in Gwinnett county is we’ve seen sheriff deputies and jailers flee this leadership because it’s untenable. As a matter of fact, I did, a couple years ago, I did this Suwannee Citizens Academy police academy, and it just so happened I got teamed up with a officer who worked for six months under Butch Conway, made the transition, and after a year, he took a significant pay cut to leave the sheriff’s office to go work for the city of Suwanee. And talking to him that night, it’s what every deputy I’ve talked to has said, whether I solicit the question or not, they’re like, yeah, it’s ridiculous. It became untenable, and they left inmate safety.

Rico Figliolini 0:19:53

I mean, it’s always been a problem, I think, in any jail, right, there’s only a certain amount of leeway you can do. Sometimes it can’t be helped, you know, with. You hear about these things all the time on, like, not in Gwinnett sheriff jails, but in federal jails or state jails, where there’s drugs in the jail, sometimes there’s other things going on, and that actually increases the inmate safety issue because other people causing problems among the population, if you will. What tools would you use to improve that or to reduce that? I mean, so it’s not just happening because. I don’t think it’s just happening because officers are being abusive, and some of them have been. It’s also being the other side of that. So what tools can a sheriff have to do? Do you plan on restructuring that whole command of how things are done?

Baron Reinhold 0:20:53

Yeah, I mean, immediately. I’ll reinstate and train a rapid response team. What we need is we need the proper numbers of deputies back in the jail cell. It’s a horribly dangerous job when you are critically undermanned. So the issue now is instead of being in charge of one cell block, they’ve got deputies, at times in charge of two, three, and up to four cell blocks. You know, that is. That is sheer insanity. And when you’ve got that type of. I mean, the inmates know that you can’t maintain control of them, and so things get. You know, things get crazy, and you can’t stop it. So what’s the answer to that? The answer is to keep people locked behind, you know, in their room 23 or in their cells 23 hours a day because you can’t control them. What’s that? Due to the mental health that makes people, you know, more angry. And when they do get out, there’s more problems. So all of these things are precipitated by the fact that, you know, the deputies in the law enforcement is a very tight knit community. So I just went through that, you know, quote unquote police academy. I’m post certified now. I went back in September through December. And, you know, all the guys, you know, a bunch of them were prior, you know, jail or were jailers before they were coming back to get their, you know, their full post certifications. And, you know, those guys, you know, talked in depth about all the different sheriff’s offices around the various counties and about all the different police. But, I mean, they know. And the word. It doesn’t matter. I shouldn’t say it doesn’t matter.

Rico Figliolini 0:22:21

The money.

Baron Reinhold 0:22:22

I mean, money is always attractive. But you know what? You have to have a force that people want to join, and that is incumbent upon the leader to create the environment where people love to work, where they know that their boss has their back. They know that their boss is, you know, is looking out for their career. They’re invested in, you know, in training and equipping them and so forth and so on. And that’s. I mean, the history of, you know, my background for 35 years is training and equipping and leading high, you know, high, highly performing organizations that are the number one of their type in the entire Navy. And you get, you know, there’s a. There’s a specific award called the Battle Efficiency Award. Now, they call it battle effectiveness Award. Same award, just. They changed the name, but you get that when it’s the number one unit of its type in the Navy. We won. We were awarded that back to. Back to back three years in a row when I was the commanding officer. So I know how to build organizations that people love to work in and love to do their job. And that’s what we need here. We need that type of leadership to bring people back. And I know that they’ll be back. I mean, people want to come back. I’ve talked to deputies all the time. They want to work here and Gwinnett, but they won’t work for this sheriff.

Rico Figliolini 0:23:37

Do you. Do you think that salaries or benefits have to change also?

Baron Reinhold 0:23:42

I mean, there needs to be. I mean, right now, if you listen on the radio, you can hear. You know, you can hear the. The Gwinnett county sheriff’s office, you know, spots on there all the time, and they’re, you know, attractive numbers and this, that and the other. But they’re not hiring anybody. I mean, they’re. Their numbers are single digits. You know, people are not coming to their hiring conferences, and they’re not responding to those ads, even though, you know, on the surface it sounds good because they know. They know that, you know, it’s better to work someplace for less money than it is for a boss that doesn’t support you. To answer your question, all of that stuff needs to be looked at, and we need to be the most competitive, pay in the area, and have the best leadership. And because the thing is, after you’ve trained people and you’ve equipped them and built the organization that they don’t want to leave, you don’t want to lose that talent. And those are the two key factors, to have the leadership and to have the money to support maintaining them there so they don’t train, move on.

Rico Figliolini 0:24:45

Yeah. And that’s been, I guess, the problem with law enforcement in the metro area. Right. They get trained in one place, like Gwinnett county has had that, where they train police officers, they work for two years, and then all of a sudden, they get hired away to a different county. Right. Maybe it’s closer to their home. You know, it’s a lot of different reasons. Right. I mean, our peach recorders. Sheriff Restrepo, chief. Sheriff Restrepo is a former Gwinnett county police officer, decided this would be a good place for him to be. Right. So people do leave. So, yeah, I mean, it’s hard enough to find people, even in the private sector, to do things, and it’s difficult all around. So unemployment is low, they say. I guess it’s low, but, yeah, paying bonuses do make a difference, and that’s something a sheriff has control over. Right. That’s not something that has to be decided at the city council level, at the county level, I don’t think.

Baron Reinhold 0:25:46

Well, I mean, certainly the budgets and the money come from the commissioners.

Rico Figliolini 0:25:51

Right. Total budgets. Right. But if you have, like, positions for 40 positions to be filled, but you can’t fill it, you still have that budget money in that line, I guess.

Baron Reinhold 0:26:02

And the other. Your point when you talk about personnel and money is, you know, this. The current sheriff, Sheriff Taylor, you know, has a command staff that’s completely bloated. He’s got all these really high level, high paying positions that he created, and, you know, and it’s like a three for one. The guy who’s actually doing the heavy lifting in the jails or serving warrants. Their pay compared to all of these created positions is way out of whack compared to what’s normative. And that’ll be something that we’ll go back through and rescale that to the right number and have the positions that are needed. But we’re not going to have fat in there, just collecting a paycheck and, you know, having duplicative jobs or whatever else. It’s not happening.

Rico Figliolini 0:26:52

So you’re not just auditing budgets and stuff. You’re going to be auditing the structure of the command. Who’s there? Okay. One of the things that you point out, too is constitutional training, mandating constitutional education, how to enhance the daily responsibilities of the deputies and jailers. So tell us a little bit about that. What you mean by that?

Baron Reinhold 0:27:16

Well, it’s interesting because, you know, 35 years in the navy and every time you have a promotion, you reaffirm your oath to protect the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. And, you know, it might seem a little more intuitive, possibly for military personnel because we’re typically overseas and worrying about the people attacking the country and protecting our constitution in that capacity. But in order to do your job in law enforcement, you need to understand how the constitution applies to you. And that has to factor in to, I mean, you have to know because you’re swearing an oath to it, too. So what does it mean? You know, there’s, there are laws on the books and we’ve seen throughout history that there are times when, you know, mandates can come down that are not constitutional. So then the question becomes, is the senior law enforcement officer in the county, what are you going to do about that? And if people don’t understand the constitution, then they can’t work through that. And that’s important. I mean, I think it’s a big problem in America that the Constitution is more and more being ignored. And when you have a mandate that is a potential massive violation of the constitutional rights of the citizens, then the sheriff is the one that needs to engage them and let people know this will or this will not happen. And so, you know the sheriff to know it, then everybody also needs to know it because they need to understand why their command is taking a certain stand.

Rico Figliolini 0:28:50

Okay. That almost begs the question, though. Okay. That if you’re, if you’re, if the sheriff is supposed to enforce mandates that come down, these are, these are laws just like anything else that needs to be implemented. Sheriff can’t, I mean, it’s been done. Obviously, we see it at the federal level where certain laws are being ignored right now, is that right to do, can you slow walk that law, if you will, and not do it? You know, I get it that there’s priorities and that sometimes you might say, well, the priority is not that law. We’re not going to, we’re going to, we’re not going to step through and enforce that right. We’re going to be enforcing these other laws that really are important.

Baron Reinhold 0:29:38

But I wouldn’t put it that way because, yeah, I wouldn’t say, I mean, the laws are the laws and they need to be enforced as long as they’re not violated. For example, you know, you saw, I mean, I guess probably the best current example might be that in some counties during COVID you saw sheriffs arresting pastors for having church on Sunday. And in other counties, you saw sheriffs standing literally in the doors of churches, preventing, you know, state police from coming in and disrupting the services. So the question then becomes, you know, if the constitution is the authoritative law of the land and our Georgia constitution is also, you know, the authoritative law in Georgia, then unless there is something that says, okay, there’s no more religious freedom, then your job is to understand what is and what is not a legal declaration. And so you have to, because at the end of the day, the individual citizen, the last person between their constitutional rights being violated or not, is the sheriff of that county. So I’m not saying it’s normative that that happens, but I’m saying you have to recognize if something comes down that is not constitutional, it’s your oath. It’s your obligation, if you actually are going to fulfill your oath, to make sure that your citizens rights aren’t violated.

Rico Figliolini 0:31:03

Okay, I don’t disagree with you. I just. And we could leave it at that. But it’s just, someone has to, it’s like everything else. Someone has to decide then whether that’s unconstitutional. Now do we leave it up to the courts to decide that or the individual sheriff, lead sheriff, chief sheriff in a county to decide that? You know, and every county needs to be different.

Baron Reinhold 0:31:26

Yeah, if there are subtle things. That’s right. But yeah, something as egregious is, okay, you are not allowed to go to church. I mean, that is a gross violation of your religious freedoms, period.

Rico Figliolini 0:31:37

It is.

Baron Reinhold 0:31:38

I mean, you can, people might want to argue that, but it’s a gross violation.

Rico Figliolini 0:31:44

Okay. I could see that, you know, of course, the CDC and we don’t have to get into the politics of this, but, you know, if they feel it’s a health issue.

Baron Reinhold 0:31:52

You know, they’re, their feelings don’t. Don’t get to supersede the constitution, that’s for sure.

Rico Figliolini 0:32:00

Yeah, no, I get it.

Baron Reinhold 0:32:02

And whenever it does, that puts our entire society at risk. I mean, I’ve seen societies collapse, and I spent most of my life in those areas because of, you know, things getting out of control.

Rico Figliolini 0:32:15

And so, and I agree, it’s. It’s a fragile.

Baron Reinhold 0:32:18

We can’t allow that to happen here in the United States.

Rico Figliolini 0:32:21

It’s a fragile system. And we’re constantly fighting to keep democracy or our republic alive, if you will, because it doesn’t take much for, like you said, it really doesn’t take much, especially when we had the riots during the COVID time. Remember what CNN was almost broken into during the riots then? I just, like.

Baron Reinhold 0:32:44

You forgot the mostly peaceful riots.

Rico Figliolini 0:32:46

The mostly. Yes. Yeah, we could talk about that at some point, right.

Baron Reinhold 0:32:52

But, yeah, if you’re a cigar guy, come over the house and we can.

Rico Figliolini 0:32:56

Cigar and bourbon. There you go. Jail dogs program. So, I mean, that. That’s one of the things you mentioned, I think, in your. In your program about jail dogs, about branding. Right.

Baron Reinhold 0:33:12

This is another example of. That’s insane that that program went away. Okay, so here’s a program that literally cost the taxpayers zero, not $0.01. It’s a phenomenal program for the mental health of the inmates. And, I mean, it’s a huge incentive for them to be on good conduct so that they can actually get an animal, so that they can train that animal. The mental health aspects of that are off the chart. And the jailers loved it because people would behave so that they could be in line to get a jail dog assigned. They would train the thing, have all this feeling of accomplishments, this, that and the other. The dog obviously is good for the dogs because they got saved, they got adopted out. And it was just, like I said, it didn’t cost a penny.

Rico Figliolini 0:34:03

So why was that? Is, is just.

Baron Reinhold 0:34:04

That’s just another example of failed leadership.

Rico Figliolini 0:34:09

Other things. You’ve mentioned vehicle branding. Right? So we’ll hit some of these other things quick. So vehicle branding was one. What’s with that?

Baron Reinhold 0:34:19

Yeah, exactly. What is with that? So right when we were right, when sheriff Taylor took over, he took all the county cars that belonged to the sheriff’s office and he. Yeah. Had his name painted on the back of him. I was like, okay, okay, seriously, you paid 100. Who God only knows how much money, you know, however much it is, if it’s over one cent, the Navy would call that fraud, waste and abuse. But the bottom line is, you know, he’s got his name spray painted all over these vehicles and county expense. The irony now is he, he can’t drive a sheriff’s deputy’s vehicle up to a polling place because that’s, that’s, you know, campaigning. So if there’s a problem at a polling station, he can’t respond.

Rico Figliolini 0:35:01

Think about that.

Baron Reinhold 0:35:01

Yeah, so anyway, but it’s, it’s just ridiculous. That is, that is the pinnacle of arrogance and egotism in my mind. And, you know, to spend that money that frivolously on something like that.

Rico Figliolini 0:35:14

All right, beyond that, let’s talk about reassigning personnel. Part of it was bodyguards and drivers to other roles that benefit the short.

Baron Reinhold 0:35:23

So when, when you’re critically short of personnel to begin with, he’s got a bodyguard that goes around with them. He’s also got a driver. Actually, I think he’s got two drivers or has had two drivers. So, I mean, that’s manpower that’s critically needed in our jails or serving warrants because right now we have about 50,000 unserved warrants because more warrants come in than can get served every day because we’re critically short and people won’t work for this sheriff. So every day the warrants stack up. They can only serve so many. So every day he’s in office, you know, we’re just going to keep getting more and more warrants. I mean, I should say that aren’t, that haven’t been served.

Rico Figliolini 0:36:04

Okay. I don’t have anything against bodyguards. I mean, things can happen, right. It’s not, it’s not a study. It’s a violent society sometimes. So I don’t see why not have a bodyguard. But serving warrants, though, it’s a different story. Can’t that be done by private services contracted for, to be able to stem through that? I mean, a reasonable thing?

Baron Reinhold 0:36:27

Yeah, I think it’s reasonable. Especially when you don’t have the manpower or they won’t work for you, then, yeah, you better figure out a solution. And, but, you know, the last official number that I got, it was, you know, am I allowed to say leaked to me it wasn’t gotten through FOIA because I don’t have that much money to keep asking these questions to try to get official numbers. But this was an official number. It was 48,632 as of about a month ago. And every month it’s been going up.

Rico Figliolini 0:36:57

So, and to be fair, I mean, a lot of that may have been before his.

Baron Reinhold 0:37:02

Oh, yeah, like you said. But the fact that the numbers skyrocket because it’s warrant division is, you know, is been decimated. And by people leaving, we’re not getting. Every day that those individuals are walking around without having been brought in is a potential death or a potential violent act or a potential robbery or whatever else. So these are important things to get our arms around.

Rico Figliolini 0:37:31

It’s good to have that discussion. I mean, definitely, especially. It’s one thing to, to be one of, to voting for one of over 330 house reps. You know, they do make laws that affect people and stuff, but the sheriff system really has to be taken more seriously. Have we, towards the end of our time together, Baron, is there anything that we haven’t discussed that you want to share?

Baron Reinhold 0:37:58

Well, I would just again ask people to go on my website, it’s Baron Forgwinnett, and look up my background and look up all my proposals. At least my initial day one proposals are on there. Like I said, there’s a reason why Sheriff Conway, who was the sheriff for a quarter century here in Gwinnett county, endorsed me. And he sat down and he said, Baron, you’re the only person with the background and the senior level experience in command and the senior knowledge of budgets and how to make things happen and how to apply for money and how to engage the commissioners and on and on and on and with the personnel experience with running the entire Navy’s 388,000 personnel and keeping that manned. And part of that responsibility was the bonus structure for the entire navy and administering that. I mean, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses across the Navy. So, yeah, it’s obvious from his perspective that I’m the only person qualified that’s running to do that in a manner of sustained, superior performance, which is my track record. So I’ve always loved people. I’ve loved serving people my entire career. That’s the biggest thing I miss about the Navy is the fact that as I got more responsibility and more seniority, I could affect more and more people’s lives and their families lives and advocate for them more powerfully in their career. So I’m, you know, I’m looking forward to, you know, doing that leadership aspect, but also bringing our county and making our county safe and our jails safe and, you know, basically making it safe for, you know, the taxpayer or the tailor for the deputies and for our inmates. That’s, that’s the bottom line.

Rico Figliolini 0:39:49

Okay, so, okay, cool. People know where to find out more information. You’ve been out. There’s early voting going on, but we’ve recorded this. This was recorded on the 8th, on Wednesday. And so there’s early voting going on. I think that, I’m not sure when that ends.

Baron Reinhold 0:40:07

Early voting ends the 17th.

Rico Figliolini 0:40:09

17Th. Okay. The Friday before election day, which is May 21. And you’re running on the democratic?

Baron Reinhold 0:40:19

I’m running on the republican ticket.

Rico Figliolini 0:40:21

Republican ticket.

Baron Reinhold 0:40:22

And the primary. You know, it’s Mike Baker and I that are running against each other on the republican side. And then Kebo Taylor, who’s the incumbent, and Curtis Clemens, Joe Mark and Brian Whiteside are running on the Democrat against.

Rico Figliolini 0:40:38

So as opposed to people listening to this, as opposed to school board races, which are decided on this election May 21, since it’s a nonpartisan or deemed nonpartisan this race, once the ballots are decided. So if you’re looking to want to support Barron, obviously you need to pull the republican ballot to be able to do that. Or the democratic ballot if you want to vote on that side, too. Either way. And then the election actually runs through until November where decisions are made. Right.

Baron Reinhold 0:41:11

So November, if I’m the candidate, then it’ll be running against. Well, there was probably going to be a runoff, my guess, on the Democrat side, since there’s not. But whoever wins that is going to be hopefully who I’m running against.

Rico Figliolini 0:41:26

Yeah, that seems like it. Well, Baron Reinhold, I appreciate you taking your time speaking to me about the issues of where you feel passionate about and how you feel you would handle the Gwinnett County Sheriff Department. People know where to reach you now, or at least where to find your information. And if they want to reach you via email or phone, the information is on your website, I’m assuming.

Baron Reinhold 0:41:50

Absolutely right.

Rico Figliolini 0:41:52

So hang in there with me for a minute. Everyone else, I appreciate you joining us listening to this. We’ll be doing some other candidate podcasts over the next week or so a few days. There’s a few more that I’ll be interviewing different races, so check it out and, you know, share this with your friends. Appreciate your time. Thank you everyone.

Continue Reading

Peachtree Corners Life

Yanin Cortes Shares Why She’s Running for Gwinnett County School Board



May 21st Election Decides Gwinnett County School Board District 3

Peachtree Corner resident and Cuban immigrant Yanin Cortes shares her journey from struggling with English in her first year in an American elementary school to running for the Gwinnett County School Board. Endorsed by local leaders, she highlights system strengths and challenges. Yanin is a talented singer, entrepreneur, and mother of three who stresses the importance of community support, clear policies, and continuous improvement to address new challenges. Listen in to hear more about this candidate and the upcoming election. Hosted by Rico Figliolini

Yanin’s Campaign Website: https://yanin.org/

00:00:00 – Yanin Cortes Runs for Gwinnett County School Board
00:01:41 – From Immigrant to Aspiring Musician
00:03:55 – From Music to Family and Entrepreneurship
00:05:48 – From Educator to Entrepreneur: A Diverse Journey
00:08:09 – Pursuing a Passion for Education and Community
00:10:12 – Celebrating Gwinnett County’s Diverse School System
00:14:36 – Navigating Discipline and Safety Challenges in Schools
00:17:22 – The Role of the School Board: Oversight and Support
00:20:10 – Balancing Community Input and Systemic Realities
00:22:51 – Implementing Policies: Complexities and Challenges
00:24:29 – Improving School Safety and Restoring Trust
00:28:48 – Navigating Diversity in School Systems
00:31:50 – The Joys of Family, Community, and Running a Restaurant
00:35:17 – Advocating for Community and Children in School Board
00:37:57 – Importance of Voting for School Board

Podcast Transcript:

Rico Figliolini 0:00:01

Hey, everyone. This is Rico Figliolini, host of Peachtree Corners Life, where we begin to see a lot of electioneering going on, a lot of more things going on out there as far as this May election, May 21. That’s coming up in a few weeks. And this has several nonpartisan races that are decided this May versus a primary and final elections in November. So what’s happening this month is extremely important to you, and you need to be aware of it. And this is one of several podcasts we’ll be doing with candidates. And I appreciate Yanin Cortes showing up and speaking with me about her race for Gwinnett county school board. Thank you for being here this morning. Appreciate it.

Yanin Cortes 0:00:44

Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure, too.

Rico Figliolini 0:00:48

Sure. Love to hear more about why you’re running and stuff. I just want to give some background about you. So this is for actually district three election of Gwinnett county school board, which represents geographically Peachtree Corners, parts of Norcross, Berkeley Lake, Duluth, Suwannee and Sugar Hill. Fairly large District 31 schools, public schools in that district. And you entered the race with actually several endorsements already. So the retiring board member that’s been representing Peachtree Corners in this area for like 28 years, Mary Kay Murphy, has come out and endorsed you. Amelia, Mike Mason has endorsed you, and so has representative Scott Hilton. All of them, Peachtree Corners residents, all of them involved so heavily in the community. So some great support you have. Now, I’d like to hear, you know, I’m sure the rest of us would like to hear a little bit about, you know, why you’ve decided that you want to run, but tell us a little bit about your story and then why you’ve decided to run.

Yanin Cortes 0:01:51

Sure. I am a first generation immigrant. I was born in Cuba, and I came to the United States when I was ten years old, and we migrated to Hollywood, Florida. Out of all places. Yes. And it’s funny because everybody says I went to Miami, but that was not my story. And Hollywood at that time was a very american town, all american town, although the Cubans were living somewhere in Miami. And I probably was one of two children in the class that spoke Spanish. And it was a hard year for me. I call it the year of silence, since it was really hard to just talk to anybody. But I had amazing teachers that guided me, that were there for me. And I think that’s where my love for school started because I had so much support. And being an immigrant family here, it’s a very hard thing to go through, especially parents coming, not knowing the language, working two jobs to making sure that people have, that we had food on the table. So I went through the whole years and I kind of went into music. And for a while there, and after I graduated high school, I decided that I wanted to be a famous singer. You know something? The dream of everybody, they just want to be. And I went through auditions and I wrote songs, and I spent a lot of time on track. And I got signed with company EMI.

Rico Figliolini 0:03:46

Oh, wow. Yeah, sure. Famous record company. Sure. Label.

Yanin Cortes 0:03:50

Yes. And I got to travel the world first. The first signing was with a group. It’s a three girl group, and we represent. And we went all over the place in Europe. And then after that, I decided that I wanted to just have my own thing and write my own songs and decided to be a solo artist. And I got signed with EMI also, but in South America. But after that, somehow in between that, I got married, I started having kids. And then I decided, oh, I don’t want to be traveling all the time. I need to pay attention to my kids.

Rico Figliolini 0:04:27

You have three.

Yanin Cortes 0:04:28

Well, my son, at that point, he was only one. And my husband has supported me because he’s also a musician. He was also signed with Sony and, you know, but then we just came back to Miami. Now this time Miami, and I went back to school and decided to go for education. And my husband went to FiU and he said, well, you know what? Don’t worry. I’ll go study hospitality and business administration, and we’ll go move to Atlanta and open a cuban restaurant. Your mom was amazing chef and cook. And you will sing whenever you want to. You will have. You can on the weekend. There’s a good. Yes, it is. He is amazing. He is wonderful. And he made that dream come true. He did. And we both graduate. I graduated when I got to Atlanta. I transferred to Georgia State, and that’s when I finished school. But we opened the restaurant in between that, and I started teaching at Shiloh High School.

Rico Figliolini 0:05:40

So you guys own, actually, mojitos in downtown Norcross? The crossing. The crossing in downtown. No, cross as well. And the mojitos at the forum. Yes. Entrepreneurs, talented singers. It seems like it. And you were a teacher at Shiloh High School for a while, too, right? A former educator, yes. And. And you’re. And you have three kids?

Yanin Cortes 0:06:11

I think I have three boys. I call them boys, but they’re men already.

Rico Figliolini 0:06:15

Two of them, sure. Yeah, I would imagine. Well, so one of them still home, I guess? Or are they all home, or does that work.

Yanin Cortes 0:06:25

Yes. I also have a nine year old. We started over again somehow. Don’t ask us why, but it’s an amazing experience. I think as you grow older, then you say, oh, maybe I should have done that with the other one.

Rico Figliolini 0:06:37

And that’s interesting. Yeah. The last one, I have three kids, and the youngest is seven years apart from the middle one. So, yeah, you get to see that. And I also come from immigrant parents. I was first born in the States here. So I can appreciate coming from a household that had no english speaking. And I think my kindergarten or first grade teacher had my parents in because I was speaking half Italian, half English. They can understand everything I was saying. So I can appreciate the difficulties of a young family and educators that were present with you at the time really does make a difference, because I think if you had the wrong teacher, you might not have been as fortunate. Right?

Yanin Cortes 0:07:21

No. I have to say teachers were amazing for me, especially in high school afterwards. And at the beginning, they were there to guide me. They were there to support me. They knew that I was going through a rough time. And then in high school, my music teacher was an amazing teacher because it was like a family. We ended up in this choir. There was only 14 of us, and we were like a family for the whole four years, and that kept me going. And you have some people that if you were struggling in a subject, he will go, hey, what’s going on? And let’s go. You have to do this. I know you love singing. I love. I know you love doing this, but you always have some inspirational, some person that. A mentor that tells you, hey, let’s go for it.

Rico Figliolini 0:08:17

Curious. What instruments did you. Did you play, or did you.

Yanin Cortes 0:08:22

I was singing all the time. I played guitar a little bit, but I wouldn’t, like, even dare say that in front of people because they make me play or some horrible song.

Rico Figliolini 0:08:34

Have you sung at the restaurants?

Yanin Cortes 0:08:37

Yes, I used when we opened the restaurant in 2008. I’ve been singing ever since then. Friday and Saturday night. I took some time off when I had Lincoln, my. My youngest. But right now, I’m still singing every Saturday night and forum location.

Rico Figliolini 0:09:01

Cool. So let’s get. Let’s dig down a little bit about why. You have great background, obviously good endorsements, but why are you looking to run for Gwinnett county school board? What is motivating you to do that?

Yanin Cortes 0:09:14

Well, I love this community. Kids are my passion, too. They. I can see their faces light up every time they learn something, and I think that we should keep that going. And I think being a member of the school board will help. We have a lot of immigrants coming into our county right now, and our county is the most diverse county, and I think it in nation. And it’s incredible that we have such a diversity, such a love. Guene county has always loved education, so I wanted to make sure that I wanted to be part of that. I wanted to encourage people. I wanted to be the voice for the parents that have concerns and just voice that to. To the schools. And I wanted to be the voice for our community saying, hey, we want to make sure that our tax dollars are spent wisely. And I know that we all have anxiety, but I believe that Gwinnett county has an amazing school system. We just need to come together and talk and come bring consensus and just making sure that we’re working together to achieve success for all students, you know.

Rico Figliolini 0:10:45

That’S great to hear. The county has gotten, like you said, it’s actually a majority minority. It’s changed over the decades. I’ve been here since 95. My kids have gone, all my kids have gone through public school the same way I did in New York when, before I came here. Simpson elementary Picnicville, Norcross they went through the IB program at Norcross. In fact, the two of them that went through IB, if they hadn’t gone through, I think they wouldn’t have done as well. The IB program really taught them how to write, how to be critical thinkers, how to mold things together, subjects. So the school system has done some good things, right? Yes. What do you think they do well at the school system right now?

Yanin Cortes 0:11:32

Well, definitely those programs, the IB program, the early learning for. They have a play to learn program right now that they, including the parents, to come before they get to school so they can learn how to teach their kids to be ready for kindergarten. We have the program. A lot of people don’t know about it, but it’s amazing because it just prepares. We have all the stem programs that we have right now with a paltry weekend. We have just different alternatives for students that are looking. I think there’s a pathway to careers that they’re developing in some of the schools that if a kid wants to go to trade school instead of college, he’s going to have. He will have that ability to concentrate on that. And some people don’t know what they want, but if they’re guided, and I think this is one thing that we can concentrate that I will fight for in the school board. Okay. Yeah. What else do we have? We have a lot of things that are amazing. The sports, amazing sports here. That sports people think it’s just one of those things, but it drives kids. It gives them discipline. It makes them do their best, because they know they have to be good. They have to do good in their studies so they can go and participate in the sports. And the same thing with music. Marching band was a haven for my kids because they were musicians. None of us came out. So both of my kids were marching band, and the teachers were amazing. Mister Ventura, Pinckneyville, I love him so much. He was guidance for my kids, and he has that tough discipline. But at the same time, you know.

Rico Figliolini 0:13:39

I can appreciate that. Yeah. These teachers that teach in Gwinnett county schools are underserved, I think, in some right way. So under respected by some people, but they’ve done a great job. I totally agree. Sports has been a tremendous drive. I mean, more sports athletes come out of Gwinnett County, Gwinnett county, and Norcross High school, but even some of the other high schools, for sure. And not just football or baseball or soccer, but volleyball, lacrosse. I mean, this city and this county has produced so many athletes, even theater and music, like you said. I mean, the theater at Norcross has done great, and some of the other high schools as well. So there’s lots there. But there are big challenges, right, to the school board, to the school system, I should say. School board has been changing over the last few decades. Different representations have come in. Tools have changed also, right? Social media has made it a little difficult. TikTok, Instagram, not that they’re bad apps. They’re just like anything else. They’re used badly sometimes. Right? Yeah. So you have disciplinary school safety issues. We lockdown school shootings, although we haven’t had any that I’m aware of in Gwinnett county that are. That were inside of school sometimes. Shootings on. On high school campus, maybe, but mostly, it’s unrelated to the students sometimes. So what do you see as challenges to the school system and when, with regard to discipline, school safety?

Yanin Cortes 0:15:15

Well, school safety has to be a priority. It has to be the number one. Just because if we don’t have. If the teachers don’t feel safe, if the kids don’t feel safe, there’s no learning going on, because everybody’s just worried about survival. Right?

Rico Figliolini 0:15:31

And we.

Yanin Cortes 0:15:33

I think the school board went through a very difficult time about a year ago when they. Two years ago, really, when they decided to change the discipline policies, and. And it created chaos, in a way. And some of the teachers didn’t know what to do. Didn’t know if they were afraid to discipline, and that caused a lot of confusion in the system. But they did go back this year, and they decided that they were going to take back and try to go back to the old way. And I think that was a great decision. But it took some courage from people to say, Mary Kate Murphy was one of those people that said, we need to. I take my vote out this one. Can we go back to the place where we were, where we can control our classrooms, where the teachers have the power to control their classrooms, where the administrators have the power to control their building?

Rico Figliolini 0:16:39


Yanin Cortes 0:16:42

So I think it’s getting better, and we still have a lot of work to do. It’s just that I think it was something that’s kind of set us back a little bit. But I have faith in Gwinnett County. I know that we will go through this. I’m running because I want to be that pathway to, hey, we can get through this.

Rico Figliolini 0:17:06

So what do you find then? The role of the board? Right. You’re volunteers, don’t get paid. I mean, this is stipend, but it’s really not considering the size of the budget. This county, I don’t think anyone ever gets paid well, and they do it for the love. You know, you’re running because you want to be on the board, because you want to feel like you can provide your guidance. So. But what is the role of the board, in your mind?

Yanin Cortes 0:17:34

The role of the board is three main goals and pretty much hiring and firing of the superintendent. Overseeing. Not overseeing, like, micromanagement, but making sure that all the laws that are already in place are being followed, and. And also just giving support to the superintendent so that they can achieve their goal. Approving budgets, making sure that we don’t go over budget, and that it is appropriated to things that will benefit the students and teachers because they’re the heart of this whole thing. We can say this or that, but the students, we have to make sure that we have quality educational systems for them. We have to make sure that we have. The teachers are being taken care of, that they have competitive salaries, and that they’re being supported. So the school board is in charge of overseeing or just making sure that everything. Everything is running how it’s supposed to be. Okay, but we are not supposed to make policy unless it’s something that is, that we notice, that is somebody’s not following what they’re supposed to be doing. But usually the superintendent is the one that makes everything happen, and we say, okay, yes or no? And we come together and saying that.

Rico Figliolini 0:19:20

All right, so there’s leadership. You guys are there to make sure and guide that leadership or policies to make sure. I mean, you all have a vote on the board. So obviously budgeting and all that, anything that happens, the board is voting on. And it’s not always unanimous. Right? I guess that’s good. Yeah, I mean, that’s a good thing. I mean, you don’t want. I mean, it’s good to be unanimous that you all are in agreement on things, but it’s also good to have diversity as far as opinions go. The fact that the disciplinary changes that happened two years ago were reversed now two years later because people are honest about failure of it and how it would work. So going to the role of the community then, because two years ago, pretty much that was the response from the community. So the whole idea was not just a response from the community, but it was also the people that were elected to the board decided that that’s what they thought should be done because the community maybe was voicing that opinion or the loudest voices were out there. So there’s a role for the, for the community. Sometimes it could be right or wrong.

Rico Figliolini 0:20:34

Right. But what do you, what do you see as that role from the community?

Yanin Cortes 0:20:39

Obviously, we have to pay attention to what the community says because they have concerns sometimes. I think that not every. Some people think. I don’t know. What I’ve encountered is that everything is magical and happens in a magical way, but there’s so many, so many levels to everything and, okay, well, this happened because of that, and they tend to blame one person alone. And in reality, I mean, it’s a huge system and we have. I know, I ran the restaurants, so I know that even though you have some policies, not everybody’s going to follow those policies in the way that it was intended to be followed.

Rico Figliolini 0:21:30


Yanin Cortes 0:21:30

And it’s hard because we are a lot of people, but we all one, you know, we are that school system. Right. So. But we all bring different perspectives into that, and I think they’re all valuable because everybody has a different need in their mind and how we see the world. So the community should be heard and should be paid attention to. And that is when we get together and we say, okay, the community is asking for this. Is this reasonable? Is this going to work in the school system? I think the problem was, okay, the community is saying this and we need to do that or we need to change the laws about this. Yes, but what would that entitle? And how can we accomplish that without bringing the whole system down. Yeah. We cannot burn the house because they won’t have a house anymore. Right.

Rico Figliolini 0:22:34

That’s a great way of looking at it. Yes, for sure. And you’re right. I mean, there’s thousands and thousands of employees in the county, and not everyone will. Just. Even a small business, like with 30, 40 people, not everyone follows that policy the way you said it, so I could say that. And you’re right, because even though you may agree on the subject to implement, it gets complicated. Right?

Yanin Cortes 0:22:58


Rico Figliolini 0:22:59

It’s like Congress, when Congress passes a law, people think that, well, that’s. That’s the law. Whereas now the department that has to take care of implement that law now has a set of guidelines and policies to deliver that. And that could be completely different than what was intended by the law. So I can understand the disciplinary and policies changed because they were trying to address something, but in the end, it didn’t address it properly, I guess. And this is why there was more problems there. So there’s a lot of action. Right? There’s a lot of action.

Yanin Cortes 0:23:39

Sorry, I’m not used to talking like that. But, yeah, that’s something that we can learn, definitely. When we. When something is done and it’s not successful, it’s an opportunity to learn and just to go forward. And I think that’s the mentality that we have to have for our school system that we love in our community. That is the mindset that we have to. Let’s not just point fingers at everybody. Let’s go forward.

Rico Figliolini 0:24:10

Cool. Good way of looking at it. I think if you’re elected to the school board, are there any particular actions you’d like to see happen or policies that you would like to see implemented? Anything new that you’d like to see, any actions that you’d like to see the board do once you’re elected?

Yanin Cortes 0:24:28

Well, definitely. My main safety, like I said, is, number one, making sure that whenever we have a policy that is in place, that we follow it, but that we have training for the teachers, training for the administrators, that we. That we have a plan that works and. Or that the people that are managing that portion because operations is more left to the superintendent. We are governance, and the superintendent is in between both of them.

Rico Figliolini 0:25:03


Yanin Cortes 0:25:04

Governance and operations. So at one point, we just have to talk to if we have a concern, and I think it should be in a diplomatic way, and I think it should be in a civil way. And lately we haven’t been seeing, because we have the same objective. The objective is to have a great school system, and I think that should be the vision.

Rico Figliolini 0:25:31

Do you think the school handles diversity well, the school system?

Yanin Cortes 0:25:37

I think Gwinnett county has been one of the pioneers in that because we have been diverse for a long time. I think when we go into just making everything a blend game or a politics get into the school system, that’s when we lose, because we will start saying, oh, this is. We’re. Like I said, we’re all different. I think it’s a plus for us. I think we can make this an amazing example for the whole nation. And I think when Gwinnett county has been taking steps towards that.

Rico Figliolini 0:26:14

Cool. Now, you’ve been running as, obviously, you’re running as a candidate right now. Are there priorities as a candidate? I mean, are you. You knocking on doors and stuff? I’m sure you’re meeting people. What are you hearing out there? You know, what are they, or what are people saying to you that you can share?

Yanin Cortes 0:26:34

Well, pretty much the concerns about safety, concerns about high quality education and what is happening to. There’s a lot of anxiety right now about the school system. I think it’s because it was caused because of the discipline implementation policy, that it was chaotic, and everybody just. We need to gain that trust back, I think. And we can do that by just. The school board, honestly, has been acting. They’re always in a fight right now, or it looks like. It seems like that. And would you project that to people? It doesn’t project any confidence. And so, I mean, you see a situation from the outside. You have no idea what’s going on in the inside. It doesn’t tell you the whole thing, the whole story, but there’s a lot of things that go on and that people are working very hard. Our teachers are working really hard every day to teach our students. Our administrators are doing the best possible things that they can do for the teachers and our students. So I believe that’s happening. I just think that because of the discipline fiasco, that’s if we are, the school system has to recuperate. And also, we have a lot of immigrants coming in our system right now, and it’s creating. The graduation rate is not being measured, in my opinion, the way that it should be measured, but that we have no control over that because that’s all over the country, right?

Rico Figliolini 0:28:22

Yeah, for sure. So the system is. Yeah, any school system that has an influx of a lot of immigrants, there are challenges. Right? Language, culture? A little bit. Although we are a multicultural county, I mean, it’s just like we have representative of, I don’t know how many. Over 150, I think, different nations in our country, and certainly from the Pacific Rim in Asia to Latin America to other countries as well, coming. Coming here. So there’s always going to be challenges, I guess so it’s good to have someone, I think, that understands those challenges that’s closer to the immigrants experience than not. Do you think your business background prepares you for the school board?

Yanin Cortes 0:29:10

In some ways, I think so, definitely. I think having the opportunity to have mojitos and the crossing and been an amazing experience for me because I have dealt with, I call it two kinds of customers. Right. Our employees are our customers because we have to make sure that we provide a good working environment for them. And our customers that come in every day and they’re asking for a specific product, are we supplying that to them? Are we providing good customer service? Are we. Are we understanding what they want from us either from. Are we managing the situations that we’re supposed to. It just teaches you. And we have every. When you go on a Saturday night to mojitos, every nation is there. Sometimes I sing and I go, okay, who do we have? Anybody from Mexico. Anybody from here. And then people can. Ukraine. Yes. And everyone like, oh, my God, there’s, like, people from everywhere in the world in this place.

Rico Figliolini 0:30:23

Oh, for sure.

Yanin Cortes 0:30:23

Just having a good time. And everybody has a different culture. And sometimes when I’ve had the problem with employees not understanding each other or maybe some. Some kind of disagreement, I find that it’s mostly because they have a different culture, and the way that they thought about this is the other person is different. It thinks about it in a different way. So we do have a challenge. It’s a big challenge. But that is why we. I believe we have to find a common thing. Okay, you have a problem with this employees. What is wrong? What is your problem? And then they will talk to the other, and at one point, they would see that they were both looking for the same thing, but in different places.

Rico Figliolini 0:31:14

And that’s amazing. I definitely, you know, that is amazing. You’re right. I think, in that regard, that we all want to go to a certain point. It’s just how we get there. And you’re right. Culture is really. I mean, I grew up in a neighborhood that was jewish, italian, and keep and tell people when I. When that’s the case, you know, I grew up on meatballs and matzo balls. You know, it was all. It was all family, and we all ate and eating around a dinner table, made everyone equal, you know, we sharing foods and stuff. But so that’s what I see, you know, when I hear restaurants and stuff. And that’s a difficult business also. So you guys must have been through a difficult time, even through COVID and. And just even running a business like that with help and employees.

Rico Figliolini 0:32:06

So I can imagine.

Yanin Cortes 0:32:08

And they become part of our family. It’s one of the things that I never say people that work for us. I say people that work with us to make this happen. Right? And, yeah, and it’s incredible because I have seen they got there, and before, when we hired, when they were hired, they had no family. Now they have a kid, and they’re still there. And some other people that had been through the restaurant, and then they left and went to college, and now they come back and say, hey, look, I graduated from college, and I went to this, and I always want to know. I have some of the kids that worked in the restaurant always coming back. And so you’re. You’re my mom. You’re like my mom, my second mom, and they all. And it’s just an amazing experience because you become so close to everybody and you feel what they’re going through. COVID was horrible for everybody, but I think it was an amazing thing when we couldn’t open and we didn’t. And some people just called me because I will work. I don’t care if you pay me or not. And. Or we decided, okay, you guys go home. I don’t want anything to happen that at the beginning when nobody knew what was going on and go home, we’ll pay you. And then I told Luz, I think we’re gonna run out of business, but lose is my husband. But it all worked out. Cause everybody knew that we had to survive that, right? And hopefully, thankfully, nobody in our. In our staff gets sick. Nobody in our family got sick.

Rico Figliolini 0:33:47

And everybody’s, you know, well, that is fortunate. That is fortunate. And I know the community supports mojitos at the forum and stuff. People always talking about. It’s like one of. One of the great icons in pastry corners. So we’ve talked quite a bit about the roles and everything. Is there anything that we haven’t spoken about that you’d like to share? I just think.

Yanin Cortes 0:34:12

I just want to tell you that my family loves this community. We love the schools. We actually moved to Peachtree Corners because of Simpson Elementary. I was looking around, and I was like, okay, this is the best school. This is where we’re going. And I remember that I didn’t even look at the house that was the only house left for sale in 2006, the house were flying off the market like hotcakes. I think this and some elementary, it was the home for my kids and Pinckneyville and Norcross. And I care for my community. I really care for our children. I want to make sure that people are looking at, looking at our school system in that way. I want them to have that love and passion for our community because I think that would, it will create something good, and that’s what I want to be there for. I know that my experience will come in handy in the school board. I know that I would be able to talk to the other people, the other school members, and talk to them and say, well, I believe this, and this might work like that. And then if they have to listen to their point of view, and somehow I think that I will be able to come into a conclusion and this is the best for our children because that’s the most important. Our children, our teachers and just our school system for our community.

Rico Figliolini 0:35:41

Very good. I was going to ask you to sell it to make sure people come out to vote, and you just did it. Where can they find out more information about your campaign, Yanin? Like, what’s the website address?

Yanin Cortes 0:35:56


Rico Figliolini 0:36:02

Okay. And they can go to that site, find out a little bit more information, contact you if they have questions, or maybe even ask for a yard sign if they want.

Yanin Cortes 0:36:13

Yes. That would be great. It’s funny because my son was, we were coming from school and he’s like, look at this. Look at your signs everywhere, mom. And I was like, oh, my gosh. I don’t know.

Rico Figliolini 0:36:30

They got to be special feeling I’m sure.

Yanin Cortes 0:36:33

A humble person that kind of intimidates me to see my name everywhere. That’s not like my style, but I, but that’s what we have to do is it’s, it is an election, after all.

Rico Figliolini 0:36:45

Yeah. Yes. You definitely have to be out there. And I understand you’re, you know, a quiet person that way, been told. But you have, you know, you, I think you expressed yourself really well here. So if anyone has any questions, they certainly can put questions to you on the comments below, depending on where you’re watching this, whether it’s YouTube or Facebook or on Twitter, which is where this goes live in a few days. So this not live now, obviously, this is simulcast live for those that may be watching it or post watching it afterwards. So I do appreciate your time here. Yanin Cortes, running for school board district three. And thank you very much for being with us.

Yanin Cortes 0:37:28

I just wanted to remind you, early voting is going on now until May 17, and then the election day is May 21.

Rico Figliolini 0:37:38

Excellent. Appreciate you doing that. So don’t forget, go out there, because, again, this is actually the only vote that you’ll be making for Gwinnett County School board, does not happen in November. This is a nonpartisan race, and you all better be out there, because otherwise decisions will be made in May, not in November.

Yanin Cortes 0:37:57


Rico Figliolini 0:37:58

So the final election day, actual election day, is May 21. So cool. Thank you for being with us. Appreciate you sharing your opinions, Yanin. Thank you.

Yanin Cortes 0:38:07

All right. Thank you for having me.

Rico Figliolini 0:38:10

Sure. Hang in there for a minute. Thank you, everyone, for being with us.

Continue Reading

Read the Digital Edition


Peachtree Corners Life

Topics and Categories


Copyright © 2024 Mighty Rockets LLC, powered by WordPress.

Get Weekly Updates!

Get Weekly Updates!

Don't miss out on the latest news, updates, and stories about Peachtree Corners.

Check out our podcasts: Peachtree Corners Life, Capitalist Sage and the Ed Hour

You have Successfully Subscribed!