Brookhaven, GA, October 19, 2016 – Commentary by Lil Woolf – I attended the debate between Republican candidate Meagan Hanson and incumbent Democrat Taylor Bennett. I expected to hear a debate about issues, a debate that would help me understand the positions each candidate has on how to address the challenges facing our future in HD 80. I anticipated animated discourse—but I didn’t expect nasty sniping by one candidate over the other one.
The debate was held at Lupton Hall on the Oglethorpe campus, a favorite place of many political debates for our area. Perhaps Meagan was taking her cue from others in her party, but she spent most of her time attacking Taylor’s record from his first year. Personally, I have found his first year in office to be one of significant gains and accomplishments, and a harbinger of good legislation yet to come.
Taylor has proven that he has been a great choice to be the voice of our district, a champion for the people of DeKalb County and yes, an advocate for all the people of Georgia. He ran an open, honest and refreshingly positive campaign that won him votes from voters in all parties. This campaign is no different. His platform of representing all of us, regardless of political persuasion, served us very well, and will continue to do so if re-elected in November.
Taylor has been active in his first year, showing a real desire to be a well-informed leader; one who listens to his constituents. He has worked on public transportation, organizing a meeting between the Georgia DOT, the City of Brookhaven, and the Atlanta Regional Commission to address transportation issues in our area.
He co-sponsored the Rape Kit Bill with Rep. Scott Holcomb (HD 81), which at the 11th hour was passed in the Senate. He worked across the aisle to avoid a damaging religious freedom act. He was willing to support a Republican-sponsored Pastor Protection Act which was mostly acceptable until it was re-written into a bill that would have allowed rampant discrimination. In a rare move for a new representative, he gave an impassioned speech from the House Well about acceptance of LGBTQ persons, based on his own family experiences. The dangerous bill was eventually vetoed by the Governor. Taylor proved he has backbone and is willing to stand up for what he believes to be in the best interests of his constituents.
He supports increasing pay for teachers, lowering class sizes and increasing funding for schools. He opposes the opportunity school district referendum that is on our November 8 ballot. His opponent tonight said Taylor’s education stance is one of “regurgitating” the teachers’ union’s position. I look at his position as one of careful thought and consideration, and coming to a conclusion that puts students, teachers and families first, not the politicians.
I want a candidate who takes the high road in discussions, one who tells the truth and doesn’t engage in negative trashing of their opponent. We need to keep Taylor Bennett in office so his work will continue to improve the lives of all of us in HD 80—and in the State.