The Nov. 3 General Election will be the third time Marcus Wiedower and Jonathan Wallace have run against each other for public office.
Wiedower is the incumbent Republican representative for Georgia House District 119. Wallace successfully ran against Wiedower in 2017 in a special election. In 2018, Wallace lost his re-election bid to Wiedower. The candidates are featured in alphabetical order.
Leadership on public health policy has been absent from the beginning of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Wallace told The Oconee Enterprise this month. Wallace called the president’s response to the crisis “dismissive” and said that there has been a lack of coherence at the state level.
Wallace said he would support a statewide mask mandate due to the scientific evidence that demonstrates face coverings limit the spread of the virus. He added that if there was a mask mandate, there should be
consequences for people who violate the order, such as fines.
Wallace has enrolled his children into virtual schooling and said contact sports continue to pose a risk.
The candidate said more emphasis should be placed on social safety nets, such as helping people in risk of eviction and expanding Medicaid.
Acute emergency care is the most expensive kind of health care, he said, arguing that taxpayers have ended up paying more by Georgia failing to expand Medicaid because uninsured people still have to use emergency rooms and the state has missed out on federal subsidies.
Wallace said its wrong that insurance companies drive health care choices and that those insurance agencies hurt small businesses.
When asked about racial injustice, Wallace said Georgia’s new hate crimes law was “long overdue” and that he was disappointed that it took the tragic death of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick to get it passed.
“We are still not there,” he said. “We don’t have a comprehensive approach to civil rights in this state. I think criminal justice reform is something we need to address.”
Since the pandemic first started, Wiedower has been involved in conference calls with hospitals while collaborating with local leaders to disseminate information about COVID-19. Wiedower said he has been appreciative of the governor’s leadership.
One of the bills that passed this year offers tax incentives to companies that manufacture personal protective equipment, noted Wiedower. So far, more than 260 businesses have stepped up. State tax revenue is up 7.7 percent compared to last year, he added.
“That speaks to how we have actually tried to open back up the economy,” said Wiedower. “We need to continue to do that in a safe and cautious manner.”
Wiedower said he is not in favor of a statewide mask mandate or closing schools.
“I think our local schools have done a good job,” he said. “We need to make sure kids are being taught in a safe environment.”
On health care, Wiedower said the Georgia General Assembly has passed more than 20 bills during his two years in office reforming health care. The Medicaid waiver bill passed in 2019 allows Georgians to tap into federal funds.
This year, Wiedower was a sponsor of House Bill 855, which requires the Department of Education to develop a protocol for schools to assess foster children who are removed from their homes and placed in a new schooling environment.
On racial injustice, Wiedower said the hate crimes bill was an important piece of legislation. He said the response to specific incidents of bad policing should be more funding to law enforcement, such as competitive salaries and more training.
For more on this story, see the Sept. 17 edition of The Oconee Enterprise, on sale now at convenience stores and grocery stores and newspaper boxes throughout Oconee County. To subscribe, call (706) 769-5175 or visit the tab on our website.