Health, Jobs & Justice Tour comes to Madison
By Tia Lynn Ivey
As the eyes of the nation fall upon Georgia for the upcoming runoff election that will decide the fate of the U.S. Senate, Jon Ossoff, the Democratic candidate running for one of two Georgia Senate seats up for grabs, kicked off his statewide campaign tour in Madison on Sunday, Dec. 13.
Nearly 200 supporters showed up to Madison’s Town Park to cheer Ossoff on, including Madison Mayor Fred Perriman, Morgan County Commissioner Donald Harris, Madison City Councilwoman Carrie Peters-Reid, Madison City Councilwoman Chris Hodges, and Madison City Councilman Eric Joyce.
“This is our first stop on our ‘Health, Jobs and Justice’ bus tour. We wanted to come to Madison to make our first stop,” said Ossoff to the crowd Sunday afternoon. “Show yourself some love for getting out and voting for Joe Biden, turning Georgia blue and making a statement that was heard across the whole nation…Now, we have to get back out there and vote again. It is time to vote, Morgan County.”
Ossoff unpacked his various political policy positions, including supporting a $15 minimum wage, building upon the Affordable Care Act by adding a public option and Medicaid expansion, lowering prescription drug costs, building new hospitals and medical clinics, investing in jobs and infrastructure, fighting for new COVID-19 relief measures and stimulus checks, and seeking a slew of criminal justice reforms that would reduce mass incarceration, end racial profiling and police brutality, as well as decriminalize nonviolent drug offenses.
Ossoff pleaded his own case to unseat Republican incumbent Senator David Perdue, and made the case for Democratic challenger Reverend Raphael Warnock to replace Republican incumbent Senator Kelly Loeffler. Ossoff referred to Perdue and Loeffler as “the Bonnie and Clyde of political corruption,” accusing the pair of using their Senate seats to enrich themselves while fighting against critical “health, job and justice” policies supported by a majority of Georgians.
“This is beyond Democrats and Republicans. That is unacceptable for any public official in this country. David Perdue should be ashamed of himself,” said Ossoff.
Ossoff touted his work with the late Georgia Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights icon, and Warnock’s pastoring position at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s church in Atlanta.
“There is a reason that we are calling this the Health, Jobs and Justice tour,” said Ossoff. “When you reflect on the history of the American South and the history of the state of Georgia, what does it say about where we are now as a state and as a people that you got the young, Jewish son of an immigrant, mentored by John Lewis running alongside a black preacher who holds Dr. King’s pulpit at Ebenezer Baptist Church building a movement together for health, jobs and justice for all the people? This is the new south.”
Ossoff is purposely prioritizing visiting rural communities across Georgia that voted heavily for President Donald Trump and other conservative candidates to make his case in person as to why he’s the right choice for all Georgia voters, regardless of political affiliations.
“The attack ads are all lies,” said Ossoff in an exclusive interview with the Morgan County Citizen after the rally. Ossoff has been dubbed as a “radical” by his political opponents, but he argues his policy proposals are in line with what everyday Georgians overwhelmingly want and need, especially when it comes to the issues of “health, jobs, and justice.”
“Focus on substance,” Ossoff said. “Morgan County needs investment in healthcare. Morgan County needs investment in jobs and infrastructure and we deserve better than a senator who is blatantly enriching himself in office. So I humbly ask for the votes of all the people regardless of their political party. Ultimately, this is about the people, and not political parties.”
However Ossoff is not naive about winning a historically “red” county like Morgan, but his strategy is to increase Democratic voter turnout in red counties to put himself and Warnock over the top when combined with the votes of the larger blue counties in Georgia.
“We need 4,000 votes in Morgan County,” said Ossoff of his campaign’s goal.
But earning that many votes in Morgan County may be a tall order, considering President-Elect Joe Biden earned just 3,353 votes in Morgan County against President Trump’s 8,231 votes.
Nearly 80 percent of Morgan County’s registered voters went to the polls in November, with a total of 11,765 votes cast. Morgan County has a total of 14,824 active registered voters.
Presidential elections usually yield higher voter turnout than state and local races, let alone run-off races. But these are unusual times, as the entire nation is watching Georgia’s runoff race to see which party will ultimately control the upper chamber congress.
But Ossoff and Morgan County Democrats are banking on the renewed excitement of Democratic voters since Georgia turned “blue” for the first time since 1992. According to Madison Mayor Fred Perriman, the historic swing in Georgia is giving democratic voters hope for the first time that they can win big in the previously reliably Republican state.
“We did it once, we can do it again,” said Perriman at Sunday’s rally. “Just like your body needs water, that is how the Senate needs Jon Ossoff. If there has ever been a time for Madison and Morgan County to show up and show out, it is now. Democrats of Morgan County, we need to put this man and Warnock in the senate. Vote tomorrow, vote early and vote on Election Day this Jan. 5.”
Commissioner Harris also urged the crowd to vote and make sure everyone they know votes for Ossoff and Warnock.
“We need to elect Ossoff and Warnock to the senate because the senate is broken. We need them to fix it. We need them to make the senate respectable again. We need them to bring truth and honor to the senate again. We need them to make the senate work for everybody,” said Harris. “If you cannot drive to the polls, then run to the polls. If you cannot run to the polls then walk to the polls. If you cannot walk to the polls, then crawl to the polls, but whatever you do, make sure you get to the polls and vote.”
Jeanne Dufort, a member of the Morgan County Democrats, introduced Ossoff, vouching for his character, talent and kindness and argued that the Senate needs some young blood in its leadership.
“There is not a sitting senator under the age of 40 right now,” said Dufort. “I am ready to have a new generation of leadership and I believe big things are going to get done when this new generation comes into power. It is time for you, and we’ve got your back.”
Ossoff pledged to tackle a number of critical issues should he be elected to the U.S. Senate this January. Ossoff emphasized his commitment to reforming healthcare in America, contrasting his stances with his opponent Senator Perdue.
“We recognize that healthcare is a human right and not just a privilege for those who can afford it,” said Ossoff. “A lack of wealth should never be a barrier to getting healthcare in this country for anybody.”
Ossoff criticized Perdue, calling his response to the coronavirus pandemic, and his time in public office, “shameful” and “corrupt.”
“You’ve got a sitting U.S. Senator, David Perdue, who lives on a private island, hasn’t held a public town hall meeting in six years, who is too much of a coward to debate his opponents, and the man sells meeting for corporate PAC donors,” said Ossoff.
“So is it any wonder then, that even in the midst of a pandemic, Senator Perdue votes and works to throw people off their healthcare because we have a preexisting condition? To let insurance companies deny us a policy because we might have asthma or diabetes or heart disease? That’s the corruption in our political system that David Perdue is a symbol of,” railed Ossoff.
Ossoff pledged to make healthcare “free for the poor and affordable for all,” while investing in medical facilities and resources.
“We can get your hospital here in Morgan County the resources it needs to expand its services to the people of Morgan County,” said Ossoff. “Georgia has lost nine rural hospitals in the last 10 years. Where had David Perdue been?”
Ossoff noted Perdue opposed stimulus checks and extending unemployment insurance.
“He told us [COVID-19} was no worse than the flu. And it’s not just that David Perdue has been enriching himself in office—he is a crook. But he fought against the first round of stimulus checks and led the charge to cut unemployment insurance when millions of Georgians have lost their jobs.”
Criminal Justice reform is a cornerstone of Ossoff’s campaign. He pledges to support a “new Civil Rights Act” to ensure “equal protection under the law.” He decried the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Glynn County, Ga., who was shot and killed while jogging through a neighborhood, and condemned the local for police for initially ignoring case. Ossoff argued a new civil rights act is necessary to ensure the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which already guarantees equal protection under the law, is enforced.
“We have to make that real in the daily lives of all people,” said Ossoff, who vowed to support an end to police brutality, racial profiling, mass incarceration and making prison conditions more “humane.”
He also pledged to fight for reforms that treat drug addiction, homeless, and mental illness with “compassion.”
“We have to treat poverty and addiction as health and economic issues, not criminal issues,” said Ossoff.
Ossoff left Madison on Sunday asking his supporters to make history on Jan. 5.
“It’s not for my sake. It’s not for the glory of a political party. It’s because of the real human consequences of elections,” said Ossoff. “Senator Perdue may not know it yet, but Donald Trump is leaving. Now, we have the opportunity to write the next chapter of American History right here in Morgan County. Remember ‘Health, Jobs and Justice’ for the people.”