Republican candidate Stacy Hall faces fellow Republican Bo Hatchett in the General Primary Runoff Election, which concludes with election-day voting tomorrow, Aug. 11. The winner of the Runoff will face Democratic candidate Dee Daley in the November General Election.
ConnectLocal sent candidates Hall and Hatchett a list of questions by email on Saturday, Aug. 8. They were asked to provide answers to those questions for publication today. The questions supplied to Hall and Hatchett are a combination of questions submitted by ConnectLocal readers, and questions drafted by ConnectLocal, attempting to address questions that have not already been answered in earlier debates and campaign efforts, and provide readers with a wider range of information on which to base their choices at the polls. Answers will be provided exactly as submitted, without edit.
Following are Hall's responses. Hatchett's Q&A session will be posted next.
1. If you win the election, you will be serving on behalf of not only those who supported you, but, equally, those who did not cast their vote for you. What active steps will you take throughout your term to make sure you are serving all of your constituents and their interests, including those who did not vote for you? HALL: If elected, I will be serving as the State Senator for everyone that lives inside the district. Consistent communication and accessibility will be key to being a successful State Senator. My goal will be to engage a wide range of community gatherings throughout the district so we can interact with one another. As a State Senator, legislating is only part of the job. An equally important task is constituent services – that is providing assistance to residents within my district when they need help. I look forward to serving all of the people of our district. 2. In the 2017-18 Regular session of the Georgia Legislature, there were more than 9,000 pieces of legislation drafted. Of those, approximately 3,000 Resolutions and 1,500 Bills were introduced, and roughly 550 Bills and 2,200 Resolutions were passed by both chambers.
A) What is your opinion on legislative time spent discussing and acting on Resolutions? (NOTE for readers - this text in red is explanatory for readers, and was not included in the questions to the candidate - Simple Resolutions are often actions used to express the sentiments of a chamber, such as offering condolences to the family of a deceased citizen of note, to congratulate a sports team, or to offer "advice" on executive matters. These resolutions do not institute any rule or law, and do not carry the force of law. HALL: Most of these bills will originate in their respective committees. It will have to make it out of the committee to be considered on the floor of the entire Senate Chamber. That said, it is important for State Senators to stay on top of what bills are introduced and what they actually mean. There will be many times with certain bills that I will need to seek outside council from experts in the area and I will do just that. I expect all of our legislators to put the time in to accurately understand the bill and its impact to our local communities.
B) What policies and processes, if any, could be enacted to ensure that legislation introduced/passed by the Georgia Legislature adheres to the scope of legislation mandated by the Georgia and US Constitutions? HALL: There already exists a number of positions within the Capitol that review legislation to ensure that it complies with the Georgia and US Constitution. I believe this process is critical as no bill passed by this body should contradict the Georgia and US Constitution. However, there are times where activist judges at the Federal level do not agree with this compliance. For example, the Georgia Generally Assembly passed the Heart Beat Bill which was recently overturned by a Federal Judge as unconstitutional. I disagree with this ruling and as a State Senator will work to draft legislation that protects the sanctity of life.
3. Article III, Section V, Paragraph III of the Georgia Constitution states “No bill shall pass which refers to more than one subject matter or contains matter different from what is expressed in the title thereof.” Do you believe that this is adhered to in the Georgia Legislature, and if not, what steps can be taken to bring practice in line with mandated procedure? HALL: I do not believe that this is adhered to as closely as it should be. Too often there are unrelated items included in bills, especially toward the end of each session. I believe that Senate leadership should make this mandate more of a priority.
4. During your service as a Hall County Commissioner, describe any vote you cast or action you took that you regret or wish you could change. HALL: As a Habersham County Commissioner, especially over the last couple of years, we have had to deal with many challenging issues. One thing I have learned is that sometimes there is not a perfect answer. Sometimes we are forced to choose between two difficult scenarios. In any situation, I have done my best to research all of the facts first including discussion with people closest to the situation, I then study the situation looking at both sides, then I pray about the situation before making a decision. Although we have had some difficult decisions, there is no decision that I regret. I’m very proud of the fact that we have been able to keep our property taxes amongst the lowest in Georgia and keep our hospital open, all while dealing with a number of challenges that face our community.
5. If you win the election, how will you overcome the limitations of being a “freshman” in order to be productive and proactive for your constituents from day one? HALL: I think it’s very important to build allies and relationships in the Senate, the house, and throughout the various state offices. If elected, building these positive relationships will be a priority to me so that I can better serve the people of our district.
6. There have been examples of negative campaigning during this election season, and one of the accusations leveled against you is that you have either participated in this style of campaigning, or at a minimum, did not speak out against negative campaigning against your opponent. How do you respond to those allegations? HALL: This is simply not true and has been fueled by my opponent. There were a couple of third party mailers that were sent out by independent, outside groups that I had nothing to do with. In fact, it would be illegal for me to have been involved. I spoke to my opponent in person about this. What I have done is shared where my campaign funds came from and where my opponent’s campaign funds came from. I believe voters have a right to know who funds our campaigns. That’s not negative, that’s important voter information. Anything that my campaign has put out, has been 100% truthful and factual.
7. With personal interests in real estate development, and ties to the education community, do you feel there may be legislation which will present a conflict of interest? If so, what actions would you take to ensure transparency and ethical actions? HALL: I don’t see this as a conflict at all. In fact, my 12+ years as a former educator is an asset when considering education related legislation because I will have a greater understanding of its impact. In regards to real estate development, my wife and I renovate older homes and hold them as rental property. While serving as a county commissioner, there were many times that I recused myself because of a real conflict of interest or a perceived conflict of interest. I do find it interesting that many legislators who are trial lawyers, are able to draft, deliberate and pass legislation that impacts their ability to sue and try a case. In this example, they have a direct hand in creating laws that impact their income. This is one of many reasons why tort reform (limiting frivolous lawsuits) has been difficult in getting passed.
8. Funding for K-12 education is an ongoing issue that has been exacerbated by the response to COVID-19. How can the Georgia Legislature help ensure that society at large is contributing adequately to a necessarily well-educated populace, while addressing equity for taxpayers who have not and/or do not have children in the education system? HALL: I’m a big believer in our public school system. I often say, as our public school system goes, so goes our communities. These two are forever linked. If we have a failing public school system, most likely the community surrounding that failing public school system is struggling as well. This is why it’s so important that we adequately fund our schools. Everyone benefits from a successful school system and everyone suffers from a failing school system. I realize that for some older adults who may not have kids in the school system this can be a challenge. There are a number of counties around the state that provide some relief to this tax burden. This can be done by the school board working with the county commission and state delegation to draft legislation allowing for an exemption. However, this would be started at the local level, not the state level.
9. If you were a senator today, and a bill was introduced to enact a state mandate for face masks or force the closure of private businesses in response to COVID-19, what would your vote be, and why? HALL: I do not support a government issued state-wide mandate for masks and I would not support any state government measure that forced businesses to close if they didn’t enforce a mask wearing mandate. That said, I support a private business to ask patrons to wear a mask in their store if they so choose.
10. Do you think changes are needed in law enforcement – either in terms of reform or in terms of stronger support? If so, what specific recommendations would you make and what proactive efforts will you take in the upcoming legislative session to address those recommendations? HALL: I was glad to see the passage of HB 838 that provides for stiffer penalties for anyone who specifically targets first responders. These heroes are on the front lines every day protecting us and deserve our respect. As Chairman of the Habersham County Commission, I have worked very closely with law enforcement and all of our first responders. They do an exceptional job of training and I support them 100%
11. One of your campaign platforms is to support the Second Amendment. In your opinion, are gangs and gun violence e a problem in Northeast Georgia, and if so, what is your proposal to address that problem while protecting the Constitutional right to bear arms? HALL: I believe this is a myth propagated by the left. That somehow, if you have a firearm, it will be the wild, wild, west. Most, if not all, of my friends, relatives and neighbors own multiple firearms. They have never had an issue with violence. Guns don’t kill, people do. We need to stop trying to shame honest, peace loving Americans for owning a firearm. They are not the problem. Instead, we need to crackdown on those who actually commit crimes.
12. A second platform you have campaigned on is attracting new jobs to the region. What job sectors do you see as being especially well-suited to Stephens County and the 50th District, and what specific actions can the Senate take to fulfill that objective? HALL: Senate District 50 is a very large geographic area and what is right for Towns County is not right for Jackson County or Stephens County. Jackson County’s topography and proximity to I-85 lends itself to more larger distribution facilities while Towns County relies more on tourism. Stephens County is unique as it has good highway access, rail, water, and various topography to meet most needs. My role as a State Senator is not to dictate what each community should look like. My role is to work alongside local communities and to leverage state resources and relationships to help them meet their goal.
13. The term “proactive” has appeared in many of these questions. In your own words, define this term in relation to your service as Senator, if you win the seat. HALL: To me, being a proactive State Senator means taking initiative to seek out opportunities to serve the people of my district. In order to do this effectively, I must have a thorough knowledge of our communities and genuine relationships with its leaders. I believe I do. I also believe that my experience as Chairman of a rural hospital and Chairman of a County Commission provides me with a unique perspective in understanding how decisions at the state level can impact our local communities.
14. What impacts could the upcoming redistricting process have on Stephens County and what efforts will you make to help ensure that all of your constituents’ best interests are protected? HALL: Upcoming redistricting could be significant to the political make-up of Georgia for the next 10 years. I will do everything in my power to keep Stephens County intact and not split between two different senate or house district.
15. Is politics a career plan for you? How many terms do you plan on seeking office?
HALL: I’m 50 years old. I have had a successful business career and am not looking for another career. I’m running for State Senate to use my 30 years of professional experience to help my community. That’s it. I will not be a career politician. Our forefathers intended that everyone serve for a time, and when that time is up we should go home.