Political newcomer says will be full-time lawmaker
The Citizen in its May 2 Facebook Live broadcast featured Realtor and District 16 state Senate candidate Tricia Stearns, who will face off against incumbent Sen. Marty Harbin in the May 22 Republican primary.
Above, The Citizen Publisher Cal Beverly (L) interviews state senate candidate Tricia Stearns. Screenshot from Facebook Live video.
Both Stearns and Harbin were invited to do a joint video interview, but their prior commitments resulted in two separate interviews being set. Harbin was interviewed May 8, after print deadline. A report of that interview will appear in next week’s paper.
Stearns at the outset of the interview with The Citizen publisher Cal Beverly said the people she spoke with indicated that they were ready for the most effective senator and not the least effective senator.
A resident of the area since 1995, Stearns, aside from being a Realtor, started the farmers’ market in the shopping center in Aberdeen Village and the community garden on Kelly Drive.
In those efforts, and others, Stearns noted that she likes to ask, “What if?” and “Why not?” and “Why can’t we?”
“My biggest strength is getting people together,” she said, adding that her years of experience as a successful Realtor was filled with the challenge of bringing buyers and sellers together on important decisions. “These (challenges) make me a connector and a place-maker. I think that’s what our district needs. Every county I’m in, I see it.”
Stearns was asked what laws she wanted to make that are not currently in place and what laws she would want to see undone.
Stearns said the best thing that should be done is to stay out of the way of citizens.
“I’m all about less government,” said Stearns. “So it’s not like I want to go down there and prove to the world what a great lawmaker I can be. I think we need to ensure some things that are already in place, like keeping tax incentives that make us a job-friendly state.”
Stearns said Harbin did not vote for the data processing (House Bill 696) or film industry tax incentives. The data processing tax incentive will bring $2.5 billion to Douglas County, said Stearns.
“These tax incentives make us the envy of a lot of states, so I would definitely keep the tax incentives,” said Stearns.
Asked what she would do differently than Harbin, Stearns began by reiterating that she would keep the tax incentives and would not have brought the religious freedom bill up for the second time.
“We’re getting a pittance for roads down here because (Harbin) doesn’t come to the table,” Stearns said. “He says no to a lot of the things that make the wheels go round and round. I’d also look at education. Our kids have never been more stressed going to school. Social media is a big issue, a big issue for parents. Our kids need more (legislative) support (through provisions such as increasing the number of counselors). How can you advise kids (or assist them emotionally) if you don’t have time to see them (due to the meager ratio of counselors to students).”
On another topic, and as a newcomer to politics, Stearns was asked why she started at the state Senate level.
“Go big or go home. Work needs to be done there,” said Stearns. “And honestly, what did my opponent do four years ago before he was a state senator? If you let the world intimidate you, you can’t live like that. If you’re smart and you’re willing to learn, and if you do the hard work, it’s not unimaginable that I can’t do it just because I haven’t held another local office. I’m just not going to buy that at all.”
Her statement was followed by one that asked why she should be trusted with lawmaking at the state level.
“You want to trust anyone that has their head and heart and mind in the right place,” said Stearns. “I’ve lived here, I work here and I care.”
Stearns said she would be a full-time lawmaker, not one that puts in only 40 days during the annual General Assembly period.
Asked what would make her different from a Democrat, Stearns said she is fiscally conservative, believes in the 2nd Amendment and is pro right-to-life.
“But I also believe in being a bridge-builder. And that’s one of my skill sets, bringing people together,” Stearns said. “The tone of politics in our country today stinks. And if I can be the ambassador (to change that), and God has laid that on my heart, I’m doing it. Yeah, I’m a Republican, but I’m an American first.”
Another question asked Stearns what she would say to the person that voted for Harbin to change their vote for her.
“We want someone who shows up, who looks you in the eye, that will follow up with a phone call and will come to the table with ideas,” she said. “Leaders are innovators. Followers don’t.”
Asked her opinion on Peachtree City expanding into Coweta County, Stearns was asked how she would respond if that action required local legislation.
Stearns said “you have to let the mayor and council do their job,” adding that she might weigh in on the issue as a private citizen.
Stearns was asked what kind of senator she would be for millennials, including in bringing them back to Fayette.
“I’m a very proud mother of millennials. And they are some dynamic people,” Stearns said. “You need all kinds of people. The fact that we’re talking about it and looking at it is a good thing. You have to be inclusive and create the jobs so the wheels go round and round. You want to attract millennials because it makes a healthy community.”
Stearns was asked if she would involve Fayette in a regional transportation authority.
“We would have to opt in (for transportation modes such as trains), but we’re not going to do that. There’s not going to be support for that because everybody moved down here not to have it,” said Stearns, adding that, “I would never vote for MARTA to come here because nobody wants that.”
District 16 includes Fayette, Spalding, Pike and Lamar counties.
The winner of the May 22 primary will face Fayetteville Democrat and writer Bill Lightle in November.
The Citizen Facebook Live interview with Stearns can be viewed in its entirety at https://www.facebook.com/mycitizen/videos/10156127746457860/.