About
PAULETTE WILLIAMS

US Army Veteran
for Georgia Senate 50

Paulette Williams
Candidate, Georgia State Senate, District 50

U.S. Army Veteran with a lifetime of service in healthcare

Residence – I am a Georgia native and grew up in the Athens and Atlanta suburbs. Today I live in the magnificent mountain community of Clayton in Rabun County.,

Occupation – Today, I enjoy my retirement from a lifetime career serving our country and healthcare for over 50 years. Upon graduating from the University of Georgia, I served in the US Army as a commissioned officer during the Vietnam War. After my years in the Army, I was a faculty dietician for Emory University Hospital and the University of Georgia. I was a diabetes educator for the State of Georgia Department of Education.

Political experience – In 2020, I ran for the Rabun County Schoolboard. As an active member of the Rabun County Democrats, I have campaigned for many of our local, state, and Federal Democrats who have run for office.

Family – As a native of Georgia, my family roots run deep in the Georgia northeast region. In my youth, I grew up in Athens along with my brother. Today my brother and I live in Rabun County and frequently visit with our cousins and my 150 nieces and nephews, who are spread all over the globe. I appreciate living in Rabun County, which I enjoy with my many friends, family, and my two dogs.

 

Q & A with Paulette

1. The state legislature focused efforts last year on giving parents more control over their children’s education. What do you see as pressing education issues moving forward?

Many of us remember when a child’s education was not used to advance political agendas. That has changed. Today, extremist politicians want to ban books, censor history, and inflame gender differences – all in the name of educating children. Sanitizing what our students learn will not prepare them to succeed in a multicultural, pluralistic society.

Banning books and censoring racial history hides the fact the Georgia General Assembly has used cuts to public education to balance the state budget for two decades. We now rank in the bottom half of U.S. states and face a growing teacher shortage from the roughly $13,000 per student we invest in education compared to the national average of $16,000.[i] 

I worked in leadership at the Georgia Department of Education for six years and attended ongoing leadership planning and evaluations. I understand the day-to-day operations of the local education system. 

As a state senator, I will focus on long-term increased funding for Georgia’s educational system. If we want to continue attracting multinational businesses to Georgia, we have to move up in rank for educational quality.

2. With mass shootings in the news this year, what legislation, if any, do you favor concerning purchasing, owning and using guns? Explain your answer.

For ten years, beginning in 1994, assault weapons and large-capacity magazines were banned in this country. Research showed that bans on large-capacity magazines are associated with 38 percent fewer fatalities and 77 percent fewer nonfatal injuries when a mass shooting occurs.[ii]

We license and regulate everyday activities – driving a car, fishing in a stream, or cutting someone’s hair. I think we can legislate a commonsense approach to who should own a gun and what kind of training is required. No one is screaming, “they’re coming for my hair clippers,” but in this hysterical climate, people scream, “they’re coming for our guns.” An 18-year-old should not be able to buy an assault weapon off the shelf, but here in North Georgia, we have a congressman planting signs with AR-15s on everyone’s lawns where young children play.

 I recently enrolled in three semesters at North Georgia Technical College. I now have firsthand experience in sitting in a classroom thinking about an active shooter.  It is terrifying.

At a minimum, we need red flag laws to keep weapons out of the hands of people who are a threat to themselves or others. We must close loopholes like background checks for gun show sales and domestic violence perpetrators.  

 

 

3. Legislators cut state income tax in the last general assembly and gave out more than $1 billion in tax rebates. How do you think future budget surpluses should be handled?

I was always taught to reinvest my money so its potential impact would grow. Tax rebates and tax cuts to the wealthy do not create new opportunities. In contrast, investments in education, infrastructure, and healthcare create a healthy, vital, and informed citizenry that can tackle problems, teach our children, heal our communities, and create business opportunities. The Peach State ranks as the 11th worst in which to live mostly due to low scores for “Life, Health, and Inclusion.” We must do better. The state’s surplus money funds SHOULD BE invested in services that improve the lives of everyday Georgians. The list of where investments can make a difference is long. It includes creating green energy jobs, expanding Medicaid coverage, boosting teacher pay, investing in affordable housing so that workers in the public sector have places to live, providing free technical college, expanding HOPE Scholarships, and creating a small business capital growth fund to get new businesses off the ground.

4. Georgia’s HB 481, or the “Heartbeat Bill,” which bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, took effect July 22 in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that had provided a constitutional right to abortion. What other actions do you believe legislators should take, if any, on this issue?

As a medical person, I prefer to make decisions based on science and facts. A “heartbeat bill” aims to signal the likelihood of an unborn child surviving to a full-term birth. If you put a stethoscope on your heart, you will hear cardiac valves open and close. But there are no valves in very early pregnancy. The flickering on the ultrasound is electrical activity, and the sound you hear is a manufactured sound produced by the ultrasound machine. It’s like when you hear the shutter click on your phone; there is no shutter. It’s a sound effect.

Right from the start, the term “fetal heartbeat’ is misleading, and the overturning of Roe is also misleading. It’s long been a political movement that shows no respect for a woman’s right to privacy, bodily autonomy, and a constitutional right that stood for 50 years.

Courts are already blocking similar laws because they violate state constitutions. Georgia is fast becoming an international city and home to the film industry. We don’t need a cruel and anachronistic law that hurts women to become our defining feature.

Source Fred Jones with the Southern Education Foundation. Siegel, M., Goder-Reiser, M., Duwe, G., Rocque, M., Fox, J. A., & Fridel, E. E. (2020). The relation between state gun laws and the incidence and severity of mass public shootings in the United States, 1976–2018. Law and Human Behavior.