Profile of the poll: A look at who’s on your ballot

Jon Ossoff smiles as he greets fans before taking a picture. Photo courtesy of Jon Ossoff

It’s voting season again, and thousands of Georgians will stand in long lines at the polls to make their voices heard. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that in the first 11 days of early voting alone, participating Georgians beat their count in the 2016 election.

The presidential candidates are household names, and the candidates for Senate appear regularly in YouTube ads. However, some lesser-known candidates are still on the ballot, including those running for the public service commission.

The Signal presents a cursory look at the people who may run your community — and who will show up on your ballot.

Senate Races: Ossoff vs. Perdue

Democratic senatorial candidate Jon Ossoff seeks to take the seat from Republican Sen. David Perdue, cousin of Sonny Perdue, former governor of Georgia and current U.S. secretary of agriculture.

Ossoff was the producer of the docuseries “Africa Investigates,” which focused on African countries’ issues, including Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda. He previously ran against Karen Handel for a seat in the House of Representatives; Ossoff lost in the proceeding run-off with just under half of the vote.

Ossoff supports universal healthcare, police demilitarization and reduced economic dependence on China.

“We have a crisis in this country of political corruption,” Ossoff said in a 2019 interview with 11Alive. “Sen. David Perdue, a man who in half a decade as our senator — while one in three rural children live in poverty — while we have the highest maternal mortality rate in the country — has not … once [hosted] a town hall to answer his own constituents. He has to go.”

Perdue opposes the “lawless ‘defund the police’ movement” but favors more accountability and de-escalation training for law enforcement. Perdue also supported the CARES stimulus bill to alleviate the economic effects of the pandemic.

Perdue co-sponsored bills to deflect insubstantial COVID-19 lawsuits against businesses, encourage rural development, establish a grant to help schools reopen during the pandemic and reform law enforcement. These bills did not go beyond introduction as of Oct. 27.

Shane Hazel, a libertarian, is also running in this race. He supports cannabis legalization and the return to work of nonessential workers.

“[America has] this indoctrination system that gears us towards one style of thinking that’s prescribed: [government is the answer],” Hazel said in an interview with Larry Sharpe, a vice-presidential candidate

Senate Races: Special Election

Sen. Johnny Isakson resigned for health reasons, and 28 candidates are on the ballot to take his place.

Some of the most notable include Sen. Kelly Loeffler. She is one of the senators who confirmed Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Loeffler also sponsored the BEAT China Act, which gives businesses tax incentives for relocating operations from China.

Another is Ed Tarver (D), whom President Obama chose to be the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, a position he served from 2009 until 2017.

In 2018, Tarver was one of 75 former U.S. Attorneys to sign a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, which protested ICE’s treatment of undocumented immigrants, especially families.

Democratic senatorial candidate Raphael Warnock is a pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King preached, and an advocate for ending mass incarceration.

The House: 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 11th and 13th Districts

The 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 11th and 13th Congressional Districts encompass most of metro Atlanta. Races vary by district; to know which representative race you should watch for, check out Ballotpedia’s sample ballot lookup or look at your My Voter Page.

  • In the 4th District, Hank Johnson (D) tries to keep his seat from Johsie Cruz (R), who led the Latinos for Trump movement.
  • The 5th District has been vacant since the death of John Lewis (D). Nikema Williams (D) rivals Angela King (R) for the seat.
  • In the 6th District, Lucy McBath (D) tries to keep her seat from Karen Handel (R).
  • In the 7th District, Carolyn Bordeaux (D) and Rich McCormick (R) wrestle for the seat.
  • In the 11th District, Barry Loudermilk (R) fights to keep his seat from Dana Barrett (D).
  • In the 13th District, David Scott (D) fights to keep his seat from Becky Hites (R).

Public Service Commission: Powering Georgia’s Future

The candidates for public service commissioner don’t often get reported on. The Public Service Commission regulates utilities in the state, including deciding what Georgia Power can and can’t do to its customers.

Jason Shaw and Lauren “Bubba” McDonald are the incumbents of the 1st and 4th Districts of the Public Service Commission.

In July 2019, Shaw and McDonald were part of the Georgia Power plan’s unanimous approval to produce more than 2,200 kilowatts of renewable energy.

As a result of activists lobbying the commission on July 11, the commission unanimously passed a motion that encouraged solar power among Georgia Power customers in December 2019.

Competing for these seats are Democrats Robert Bryant (District 1) and Daniel Blackman (District 4). Both candidates are interested in expanding Georgia’s renewable energy.

According to his website, Bryant seeks to “work with the University System of Georgia to host symposiums and research conferences to investigate new and innovative-affordable solutions to Georgia’s energy needs.” 

In an interview with NRI Pulse, the question about investment in green energy came up. Blackman said that “we’ve done a very poor job of doing this thinking that the relationship between the utility companies with PSC is the most sustainable relationship.” 

Many candidates are running for a variety of positions this year, and Georgians will decide who will represent them beyond their state and within it.