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State, national candidates address minority chamber forum
08122017 LCMC Introductions
State Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway, introduces a speaker during the chambers Leaders Conference on Aug. 12. - photo by Krystal Hart

Nearly 50 people gathered at Econo Lodge in Hinesville for the Liberty County Minority Chamber Leaders Conference on Aug. 12.

The nonpartisan event was hosted to allow local leaders an opportunity to meet with state and national candidates for upcoming elections. Candidates in attendance included Otha Thornton, Lisa Ring and Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams.

The event was organized by Sabrina Newby, CEO of LCMC.

“What happens with these elections impact our lives and businesses,” Newby said. “We are doing this to keep the community leaders and business owners informed. We are all about sharing information.”

The afternoon started with a networking session then the program allowed each candidate to give an overview of his/her platform. They also answered questions from the audience.

A retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, Thornton has announced he is running for state superintendent of education. He is a Democrat and was the first black president of the national PTA.

He said overcoming his struggles as a student motivated him to develop a platform that focuses on early childhood education, adequate funding and business partnerships.

“Education really changed my story,” Thornton said. “That’s why I’m all about faith, family and education.”

Ring, a military wife and community volunteer, is campaigning for the Democratic nomination to seek the First Congressional District of Georgia. She told the audience that she is a common person, trying to make a difference so that the hardworking, middle class can be represented in Washington. Her platform includes Medicare for all, veteran services and workers rights.

Abrams served as the keynote speaker, sharing her platform as a 2018 Democratic candidate for governor. To introduce Abrams, Liberty County NAACP President Graylan Quarterman and State Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway, addressed the audience. They stressed the importance of getting to know candidates, voting in every election and paying attention to policies.

Abrams echoed those sentiments and told the audience about what she planned to do if elected.

“I don’t want to talk about survival, I want to talk about success,” Abrams said.

Her plan to achieve success so that Georgians will not constantly operate in survival mode is to educate children from cradle to career, build economies and educate and empower citizens.

She also asked those at the summit what they wanted done at the state level. Responses included re-evaluate the HOPE calculations for eligibility based on grade point averages since a different formula from the high school GPA is currently used, offer more veteran assistance, provide more housing assistance to reduce homelessness, combat poverty and ensure health care is available for all citizens by getting more public options for Medicare.

“We have to learn how to rise together or we will fall together if we don’t,” Abrams said.

Although this was the first event of its kind for the LCMC, Newby says it won’t be the last.

“This is a nonpartisan organization so we welcome any official that wants a chance to speak to contact us via our website or call me directly to schedule an event.”

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