Native son runs for open State House seat
by Darryl J. Terry, II, Candidate for Georgia House of Representatives District 56
For my entire life, Atlanta has been my home. I was born on Peachtree Road and raised on the Historic Westside. My formative education began at Walter F. White Elementary, the current home of Kipp Soul Primary, in the Historic Dixie Hills neighborhood. I attended Ralph Bunche Middle School in the famous Southwest Atlanta, also known as the SWATS, - Ben Hill neighborhood. My secondary years were spent at Frederick Douglass High School, a shining gem on the Westside of Atlanta since opening its doors in 1968. I graduated from Douglass as the valedictorian in 2015 with the highest SAT score among my peers with more than $3 million in scholarship offers. I continued my education at the illustrious Georgia Institute of Technology in the heart of the District 56, Atlanta’s Midtown corridor, where I graduated with a bachelor of science in Public Policy. I’ve lived in Atlanta my entire life. I’m not just a resident, this is my home. That is why I have submitted my candidacy to represent my community in the Georgia House of Representatives for the 56th district.
For the past two years, Republicans who hold majority stakes in both houses of the General Assembly have assaulted our communities. From a draconian, restrictive bill that limits reproductive freedom, to stealing elections, Republicans know and understand their time in the majority is expiring in Georgia. We cannot stand by idly as this attack on our democracy continues. I have long held the belief that if you want to see change, you have to be the agent for said change.
Our community has been in the shadows of an ever expanding, new Atlanta. Growing up I always felt this sense of community on Atlanta’s Westside. It was not a question of if I was going to Douglass High School or not. It was an expectation. Your neighbors were your children’s baby sitters. If you needed something, your local church or organization took pride in communities coming together to make sure that no kid went hungry and everyone was cared for.
"We have to get back to that Atlanta."
We have to get back to a point where we are not divided, but empowered to go forth and fight the good fight where everyone is involved in decision making. We must work toward the development of a new, renewed Georgia. A Georgia that is not only prosperous, but inclusive and welcoming to all people regardless of your race, nationality, sexual orientation, or gender identity. As the birth home of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and a cradle for the uplift of people of color, our state should replicate these same ideals in its decision making process. That is why I want to be your advocate in the State House.
As your next state representative for the 56th District, I plan to fight for all Georgians regardless of race, sex, color, sexual orientation, religion, national origin or gender identity. My commitment extends farther than just the State House. I plan to advocate every single day, if given the chance, to local, national, and international partners to ensure that our interests are being protected here at home. Throughout my life, I’ve always lent myself towards public service. It began when I was selected as the Youth Commissioner Rookie of the Year for Fulton County and continued to most recently, service to the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners as a central staff member. I have served as an aide to State Representatives. I served as a Council Aide to two different city council members. I’ve worked at Morris, Manning, & Martin, LLP as well as for the East Lake Foundation in partnership with Bank of America. I have years of experience in public service including working on legislation to bring more businesses to the Cascade corridor. I have worked on legislation to control the amount of big box discount retail stores. I have done the work required to ensure a balanced budget and singlehandedly created a more efficient process to allocate $3.5 million to different organizations. I want to bring these same tenets to the State House and relieve some of the partisan gridlock gripping the State Capitol.
As your State Representative, there are a few issues I would like to start tackling on day one. As a fourth generation educator, there are a number of policies that I feel should be changed to positively improve the lives of the next generation and make learning more equal, inclusive, and engaging for all students. The first would be to institute programs targeted at post-secondary education and/or technical skill training in all schools across Georgia. We must begin meeting children where they are and helping them access the tools needed to be successful utilizing the varied options across the state. Secondly, we must increase access to early education for all students regardless of socioeconomic status. This is a necessity as childcare costs continue to skyrocket. We must make our most important Georgians our priority and ensure that learning and growth begin with the cradle. Although Governor Kemp has claimed to increase teacher pay, I can attest to the fact that he has continued to fall short. We must be vigilant in expanding on the work of the state and make a concerted effort to increase teacher pay in public schools; as our teachers are integral to the success of our children. Finally, we must create a study on the affordability of the public colleges, universities and technical schools in our state. The ability to send your child to a public college should not be a burden for parents that have been hardworking, contributing members of society. While the HOPE scholarship has helped hundreds of thousands of Georgians attend school, it has not gone far enough. We must expand the HOPE scholarship to include students that experience challenges as they matriculate throughout their college experience. We must also create a needs based scholarship that provides support for Georgians with lower socioeconomic backgrounds from families that make less than $30,000 a year.
As this governor and his Republican cronies continue to attack the rights of women throughout the state, I am pledging to fight for reproductive freedom to protect a woman’s constitutional right to choose. I promise to fight against legislation, like Georgia’s Heartbeat Bill, which attempts to limit women’s access to all forms of reproductive healthcare including - legislation that criminalizes women who choose abortion. I will work to ensure that women in Georgia receive accurate medical information and educated on available choices and resources so that they are able to make informed decisions about their health and the health of their children. I promise to fight tirelessly for the maternal rights of new mothers by drafting legislation that promotes safe and respectful maternal health care. I will work to establish guidelines for Georgia’s hospitals and health professionals that ensure safe pregnancies and births for all women in Georgia.
Finally, I have a fundamental belief that all Georgians should be able to live, work and play in their communities without having to focus on inflated rent and property taxes forcing them out. I plan to create legislation that targets developers with predatory practices and those who aim to gentrify the neighborhoods on the Westside of Atlanta. I will fight each day to ensure that longtime residents are not priced out of their communities by working with city officials and developers to include affordable options in any new construction. Our campaign is committed to establishing a rent-to-income based pathway that includes funding as incentives for developers building affordable options for single family homes and apartment complexes in the 56th District. Our community has vast opportunities for growth and revitalization, therefore we must remain focused on ensuring that there are affordable housing options available across the city.
Because this opinion piece reflects only a few issues that I intend to address as your next State Representative, I invite you to review my detailed fifteen (15) point plan by visiting DT4GA.com/15Points. You will have the opportunity to examine my ideas about topics ranging from criminal justice reform and infrastructure, to common sense gun legislation, jobs and the economy.
While this campaign will be a historic challenge, we are committed to fighting for issues that promote a more fair and equal playing field for all Georgians. For too long, Georgia’s hardest working citizens have been left behind. We cannot wait any longer. The work begins now. We must all come together to ensure that this grassroots effort is victorious. But we can’t do it without you so volunteer today to phone bank, fundraise or donate to our campaign. Join us. DT4GA.com