For the last few months, I’ve been quietly praying that the US Supreme Court would rule partisan gerrymandering unconstitutional. But this week the court ducked the issue. And now it feels so much harder to make a positive difference. I’ve been sleepless at night pondering:

“How can we make our limited resources of time and money go further?” 

Answering this question requires strategy, sacrifice, and soul searching.

But doing even a small something is better than doing a whole lot of nothing.

One more progressive vote under the Gold Dome can stop a malicious bill from becoming a law. Electing a Democratic governor brings us a voice when district lines are next drawn for our state.

As individuals, we can’t quit our jobs and give all of our money away every time something tugs at our heartstrings. But one more donation to our campaign to take Senate 40 CAN keep the Georgia Senate Republicans from gaining the super-majority they need to push their far-right agenda. In just a few weeks, so many of you have donated that we have reached nearly 25% of our goal of having five-hundred people donate $100 each. Thank you!

During the next week, you’ll hear about why, as Georgia’s “most flippable State Senate district,” our campaign has the potential to send a powerful message across city, county, and state lines.

But most importantly, I’m hoping to convince you that what you are doing CAN and WILL make a difference.

I know you are ready to change the players and end this terrible game the far-right is playing with our country.

If you haven’t given yet, please consider donating $100 to help initiate that change now.  Give more or less as you are able, but please give.

And consider sharing this email with at least five friends you know can help.

As the saying goes, “the journey of a thousand miles starts with one step.”

Make your contribution today, and let’s get one step closer to flipping Georgia State Senate 40.

Sally

There is a very generous donor who sends a contribution every time I send an email. I started to worry about whether that person could afford it — whether all that generosity is worth it.

But one of my volunteers said something that completely changed my perspective: “Sally, we are giving to your campaign because it’s ours. We are invested in this fight.”

When we see immigrant families ripped apart in Texas and feel ashamed about our country, we choose to invest in change.

When we have to look our children in the eye and tell them we don’t know if we can keep them safe at school, we choose to invest in change.

When we see racist policies preventing people of color from voting, and entire communities under constant threat of disproportionate prosecution from our justice system, we choose to invest in change.

Our campaign doesn’t have big interests like corporate PACs backing us. It’s going to be a tough fight to win against the thousands of dollars the GOP will spend to stay in power. But we have something just as powerful. We have you.

And the GOP machine underestimates how invested you are winning this fight. We have met 15% of our goal of having 500 donors contribute $100 each. Thank you for what you have done and let’s keep it up. Give more or less as you are able, but, one way or another, invest in the fight.

And if you can’t give financially, forward this email to a progressive friend who can. Or volunteer. But please, invest in change.

Sally

This coming November marks the two year anniversary of the Trump presidency. Many of us feel tired. But we won’t just resign ourselves to a future that has yet to be written.

We have 200 volunteers working on our campaign, and the list is growing. It’s not just a list of names — all of these people have given their time and talent in specific ways to help out. And we’ve met 10% of our goal of having 500 donors each contribute $100 before the June 30th Finance Report deadline.

We are working to win. And we are going to win in this election and the next, because we are building an organization of really engaged voters who are ready and able to mobilize and make their voices heard.

School shootings can be prevented. Healthcare can be more affordable and available for all.

Cleaner air is possible. Raising the minimum wage won’t hurt our economy and we can’t let our politicians keep spreading this myth and preventing so many people in our community from the chance to achieve greater financial stability.

Will you join us? Are you ready to find strength in numbers and a shared purpose?

We need volunteers for outreach and we need money for direct mail. Sign up on our volunteer page and let us know how you want to help. And donate if you can – every bit helps! Better yet, join our effort to get 500 people to give $100. Talk a friend or family member into giving too.

Winning this district is within reach, and will lessen the reach of Georgia’s far-right.

No matter what, don’t get tired.

Don’t lose faith. Don’t give up.

Sally

As the Democratic nominee for the most flippable State Senate district in Georgia, I know I’ve got a long climb ahead of me. And it’s a little scary. But the first thing they tell you in rock climbing applies to politics too – don’t look down, look up.

While I’m afraid of heights, I still enjoy rock climbing. Just look at this picture of me climbing an 80-foot cliff in the Ozarks! I’ve taken up rock climbing as a sport to push myself out of my comfort zone. It’s a bit like our race to the general election.

Since my last email a few days ago, we’re 5% closer to our end-of-the-month goal of having 500 people give $100 each. Thanks for all of you who have given! June 30th is a major Finance Report deadline and we have a winning plan. While Democratic Primary turnout doubled statewide since 2014, we tripled turnout in Senate 40 and Democratic ballots outnumbered Republican ballots for the first time, 59% to 41%.

This is our chance to be a voice for affordable healthcare, economic equality, debt-free college education that can be paid for with a minimum wage job, safe and affordable public schools in all communities, criminal justice reform, decriminalizing marijuana, and for a transportation plan that embraces sustainable, clean-energy initiatives.

Like the rock cliff in the Ozarks — I see a steep climb ahead. But, when we make it to the top, a more equitable future will be in sight.

I can’t do it alone. I need your help.

Please give outside your comfort zone.

Help us reach the top!

Will you donate $100 today?

Please click “Donate” at http://sallyharrell.org and make your $100 contribution today.

Sally

On May 23rd, Georgia’s 2018 primary will be over. And if you’re feeling like me (and you probably are), you’re ready to put this stage behind you.

Through the years, I’ve seen Democrats fight hard to avoid having primaries. For one, primaries cost money – money that could be used to fight far-right Republican agendas. We need to get ready for the upcoming BIG fight and you can help us start strong! Please make a donation today to help us refill the coffers: Click to Donate.

Secondly, primaries can get ugly, as I know we’re all painfully aware. While there’s no denying that in the short term, difficult primaries can be energy draining, in the long term, I believe that primaries can strengthen parties. Primaries make us think about what we value most. Primaries make us interact — and build something new together, even when we disagree. In the long term, I’d even say that primaries make us better public servants and a better community.

For the last three months, my husband Jay and I, along with dozens of volunteers, have been running a primary campaign. By the time it’s all over, we will have held 25 Meet & Greets and events in people’s homes throughout State Senate District 40. And I have personally spoken with hundreds of our most active community members. We’ve energized each other; we have learned from each other.

During this process, I learned that the values that I hold dear resonate even more now than they did when I entered the Georgia House for the first time in 1999.

There is a rising chorus of voices who believe now more than ever that there IS a positive role for a state government that puts people first; that state government protection IS critical for our those of our citizens who are threatened with racism, xenophobia, and homophobia.

We agree that laws don’t have to choose between self interest and selflessness. Our state laws should enable good opportunities for our community and DO good for our community.

I’ve learned that residents of State Senate District 40 really care about protecting public education, providing affordable healthcare to all, and coming together to deal with our traffic woes.

I’ve also added a few things to the list from our discussions: People in communities across Senate District 40 want to make sure affordable housing remains available. They want better schools and smaller prisons, and decriminalization of marijuana. They demand social justice for the incarcerated and improved public safety. They strongly believe in common sense gun reform. And they want our senior citizens and our citizens with disabilities to be cared for in a dignified, compassionate way.

They want to show the rest of the country and the world, who Georgians really are – kind, entrepreneurial, hard working, and welcoming.

No matter the outcome of the primary election, the benefits of these gatherings have made a lasting impact on me, and I hope the direction of our party.

Are you ready for May 22 and the important work we all have to do after?

I am. Let’s do this.

Sally

Earlier this week, Sen. Tammy Duckworth (Illinois) made history by bringing her newborn on to the United States Senate floor and casting a vote. The image brought back so many memories for me, and great pride in my wife Sally.

It seems like only yesterday that Sally delivered our son in December 1999 – and made history as the first woman in Georgia to give birth while serving as a state legislator. With the legislative session starting only two weeks later, we were faced a major logistical challenge. How would Sally be able to fulfill her duties to her constituents, and also care for a breastfeeding newborn who was too young for daycare? We knew that she was going to have to take baby Joseph with her.

So, being the practical, collaborative woman I know, Sally approached then Speaker Tom Murphy to ask him about bringing her baby with her back to work. Word quickly spread among other members about what she was asking to do. There was reluctance and concern. She was warned that bringing our baby to work would upset some of her colleagues.  It was outside of their comfort zones.

Back in those days, Speaker Murphy was notorious for never saying “yes,” to anything, but if he didn’t say “no,” you could proceed with caution. Well, Speaker Murphy didn’t say “no,” so Sally persisted. She talked with her colleagues to hear their concerns, and she found a supportive committee chair who agreed to let her use his office close to the House chamber for feeding and changing.

We got my cousin to come help out and our baby came with Sally to the Capitol every day. She carried him in a baby sling and breastfed him on the floor of the House during the regular session. He caused not a moment of trouble down there, and in the process, lots of minds were opened. A mother nursing her baby, where and when she needed to, didn’t harm anyone. There’s nothing like a demonstration to prove a point.

Georgia Public Broadcasting even did a very nice profile of Sally called, “Baby in the House” that aired during their nightly legislative news program.

Our second child was born during the summer 2001 special session for reapportionment. Our baby girl attended the 2002 session, the same as her brother before her and also was breastfed on the floor of the house.

It was during that 2002 session that Sally authored a bill to change the breastfeeding law in Georgia. The previous bill allowed breastfeeding in public, but required that it be “in a discreet and modest way”. Of course, those words sound so reasonable. But it left too much room for abuse in enforcement.

Sally’s bill removed the “discrete and modest” wording and made breastfeeding in public an absolute right. The law is now clear – not open to interpretation and no gray areas – breastfeeding is always allowed in Georgia, anywhere the mother and baby are allowed to be.

Due to the machinations of the legislature, it passed as a senate bill, so she doesn’t show as the author.  For me that’s too bad, but Sally isn’t interested in credit, just getting the job done.

And it was no small job! Sally led by example and managed to get the Georgia legislature – a group largely composed of grandfathers –  to remove the “discrete and modest” language from our breastfeeding law. She got them to agree to do what was right for women and children, without restrictions, even if it might make some people uncomfortable. This was a sea-change in thinking.

The breastfeeding law wasn’t the only hurdle overcome or legislation Sally passed during her tenure in the Georgia House. But, I think that I am most proud of her because of her efforts and persistence to give women in Georgia the freedom to breastfeed in public without

As your Georgia Senator for District 40, Sally has proven that she will fight for the rights of women to care for their own bodies, and for babies to have the chance to grow up healthy.

And that baby that made history at the Georgia Capitol? He turned 18 last December, and will get to vote in his first election next month on May 22nd – with his Mom on the ballot again!

 

Jay

Lately, I’ve seen our local politicians eagerly follow orders from the White House or the NRA or whatever other monied interests want – not what our communities want. Why else would they spend valuable time voting to punish Delta, one of our largest employers, for ending a financial relationship with the NRA? Why else would Fran Millar vote in committee in favor of an English-only bill that would make it harder for some of our legal residents and citizens to access government services?

Let’s be honest – today’s White House is not where Georgians can find good examples of leadership based on strong values and respect for basic human rights.

And while Fran Millar is busy advocating for allowing religious discrimination in our foster care system, we are being distracted from what really matters to our communities: compassion, prosperity, and justice.

Let’s change the dialogue and get back to the real business of government. As your State Senator, I will keep focus on justice for ALL our residents, no matter the language they speak.

Sally

We have a tradition in our church of lighting a candle for each Sunday of Advent — the season of preparation for Christmas. The first candle we light each year symbolizes Hope.

Hope is a state of one’s own mind not a state of the world. Hope is based on one’s own heart.  –Vaclav Havel

When it comes to the current political landscape, I choose hope. Hope is not wishful thinking; hope is choosing to take action. Hope is working to make difference. I know that sounds absolutely crazy, especially given the events of the past few days. But every morning at the start of my day, no matter what is on the news, I still have hope.

You see, I have a plan. Hope is easier to embrace when we have a plan. When Trump got elected in November 2016, just like many of you, I felt shock, anger, and disappointment. It took several weeks to think about the question, “What can I do for my country?” I decided to run for office again and be a voice for the issues and values that mattered to me. I won my first campaign for the Georgia State House in 1998 and went on to be elected to a competitive “swing” district two more times. It’s been a while, but I know how to do this.

Now, just like back then, I have people to meet and phone calls to make every day. I have a plan to flip a Georgia State Senate district, a plan to fix gerrymandering, and a plan to turn Georgia blue again. And I have hope that my plans will be successful.

I have known Georgia first hand as a blue state. I served in the legislature when Georgia had a Democratic governor, House, and Senate. We have enough people out there to make it happen again — we just have to convince them that it’s worth going out to vote, that it’s worth believing we can change the system.

And, I know that when Georgia was blue, even though it was a Dixiecrat blue, our schools were better funded, our teachers’ pay increased, our class sizes were smaller, more people got Medicaid, and we got rid of a racist state flag. Democrats did that.

Now that Republicans are in charge, we spend our energy debating discrimination in the name of religion and focus our efforts on our rights to carry guns into bars and onto college campuses.

These may be the officials our state elected, but this isn’t who we are. I know that we are so much more compassionate and invested in our future than that. I have seen what blue will bring our state — and it’s much more than we can achieve with the current Republican leadership.

Back to that Advent candle — Hope. I pulled out the calculator app on my phone. Jason Carter lost the governorship in 2014 by only 200,000 votes. So, I divided 200,000 by 56 — the number of Georgia State Senate districts. I realized that to do my part, I need to find approximately 3,500 new voters who didn’t show up in 2014. That’s less than 100 votes per precinct. See why I choose hope? We can do this.

All this being said, hope actually does not come easy to me. Enacting my plan requires me to push myself beyond my comfort zone — every day. The times we are living through require this of all of us.

Only Hope can motivate us to do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do. That is why Hope can motivate when all around us is falling apart. –Vaclav Havel

This weekend, I spoke of hope to the Indivisible 7 group in Gwinnett county. When I shared with them that candidates need funding, a young woman asked, “What do you need the money for?” I answered her question in some detail. After the meeting, she came up to me and said, “I’m going to do something I have never done before. I’m going to make a political contribution.” And she made a donation to my campaign — a donation that was big enough that I know it pushed her beyond her comfort zone.

This December, people in our community will be lighting candles for many reasons, advent, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and other celebrations. In many ways, candles, themselves, are a reminder of the beauty that can come even when it’s dark and cold. In our electricity filled world, a candle still has the power to remind us that the future can bring light.

But someone must light that candle. Someone must have hope that there is a sunrise, a warmer morning ahead. Will you join me in making a contribution today? Sign up to volunteer or make a donation. Together, we can become a light for tomorrow.

–Sally

It’s in the 50’s outside in Embry Hills and I’m in the produce section of the grocery store, picking up ingredients for Thanksgiving. When I see the cucumbers, I’m brought back to a scorching day in June on a south Georgia farm that had barbed wires and security gates.

Each year, my church takes a small busload of youth to this community, where they work alongside a program that provides mobile healthcare to immigrant farm workers. I’ve gone with my church twice on these journeys, and it has opened my eyes to the so-called “invisible” labor behind the sweet potatoes, cranberries, and green beans at our Thanksgiving table.

Below are a few journal entries I wrote during one of these trips.

Monday: South Georgia in the summer is hot. Ninety-five degrees with the sun blazing down, unobscured by a single cloud. Today, we visited a cucumber farm. No amount of reading or my own imagination prepared me for what I saw. It hurt my heart. A harvesting apparatus stretched across the field perpendicular to the rows of cucumber plants. Surrounding the apparatus, were about 20 men. Even in the extreme heat, their bodies were covered from head to foot in cloth to protect them from the sun, bugs, pesticides, and the prickly plants. One man, lacking a hat, had his head wrapped in a t-shirt. Another man’s face was completely covered except for his eyes. They had to pick as fast as the harvester moved, and it moved at a pretty good clip. We got to try it a bit ourselves. The plants scratched our hands. The buckets were heavy, and bending over hurt our backs. These men work from 6:30 in the morning until 8 at night, day after day. Their only “break” is when the harvester moves from row to row. Some go for months without a day off.

Tuesday: The evening clinic is held at the farm workers’ living quarters, toward the back of a 150-care field. Even though it was late, the sun still held its sizzling power. The four barracks were very simply constructed – they reminded me of a garden shed. The walls had no insulation and no air conditioning. Yet, they housed about 300 male workers. Each barrack is divided into six sections, containing enough bunk beds for roughly a dozen men, a picnic table, a counter top with cook stove and sink, an open pantry shelf for food, a refrigerator, and a few lockers — all sitting atop a hard, concrete floor. The only movement of air I felt was through the windows. The shower and bathroom facilities were located at the end. Outside sat one washing machine. The front yard was full of dusty, fine sand that was easily disturbed, made airborne, and clung to your skin and the inside of your nostrils. The “yard” was enclosed by barbed wire, which the workers used as a clothesline. A grey bus rolled in at 7:30 p.m. — the men had been in the fields since 5 a.m. When we left at 11:30 p.m., another bus rolled in — workers were still coming back “home.”.

Wednesday: Today, a young man brought his reluctant friend to see a doctor. He had been bitten by something in the field that day and his leg, from the knee down, was extremely swollen. He needed to be taken to the hospital, but the “crew leader,” who, evidently, is a profit-making middle-man, didn’t want him to go. A fight ensued, the man was put in a car, driven to the hospital, admitted, and will purportedly be in the hospital an entire week on IV antibiotics to fight a very bad infection. I was told that without medical care, this man could have died.

According to the National Agricultural Workers Survey, one in five farm workers experiences “increased depressive symptoms.” They miss their families, they face mistreatment, and discrimination, but they also experience fear that they won’t be able to meet the extraordinary challenge of the labor.

Many of us still believe that America stands as a place where, if you are willing to work hard, you can start over or start a new life. These workers, many of whom are legal and some of whom are undocumented, work harder hours than anyone I know to produce the food my family eats. I owe them more than my gratitude. I owe them justice.

As your Georgia state senator, I will work to create laws and policies that end this “invisible” labor and the human exploitation it can cause. And until then, every time I see a cucumber, I will think of heat, dust, sweat, toil, and a promise, one day, of a better life.

Sally

This has been a hard week. It seems too much to bear to hear the news of another mass shooting. Many people I’ve spoken with are overwhelmed and discouraged. It’s tempting to crawl into a hole and tune it all out. But we can’t stop trying to make a safer future.

So much is still unfolding about the tragedy in Las Vegas, and it’s unsettling to not be able to answer the question, “What makes a mind want to kill?” We may never be able to answer that question.

Many political experts said that if we couldn’t get common sense gun legislation after Sandy Hook, that we’d never get it. I don’t believe that’s true.

Because when Sandy Hook happened, we did not have the organized activism that we have today. We did not have the resistance. Now we do. And that’s why we can’t give up working to prevent another Las Vegas or Sandy Hook.

We don’t need elected officials who pass legislation making it easier for people to kill. We need politicians who have a vision for an America where ordinary citizens can live safe, healthy and fulfilled lives. We need living wages, health care and mental health care for all. We need criminal justice reform. We need a fully funded public education system. We need a government that respects the dignity of every single person.

We can achieve these goals if we keeping picking ourselves back up when we feel loss. Use your voice to overwhelm your representatives – make it hard for them to ignore our voices and our values. We can survive bad policy decisions – and overturn them, if we don’t give up.

2018 is not far away. Democratic candidates are stepping up all over the state.  We will not give up, and we need your support — whatever you can give. If you can walk, we need you to knock on doors. If you can talk, we need you to make phone calls. If you have some extra dollars, we need your donations.

Don’t give up on what we can achieve. Together, we are the hope. Together, we CAN shape our future, even during our darkest hours.

Sally