“Do not get lost in a sea of despair.  Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime.”
–John Lewis, 1940 – 2020

2020’s Last Stand

When the pandemic started last March, we dealt with uncertainty by dividing time into manageable “chunks.” We put off making decisions, hoping a little extra time would bring the magic answers we sought. Somehow, over time, we’ve let go of certainty and settled into a new normal.

Six months have now passed. Spring heated up into summer, and now the crisp feeling of fall is beginning to creep into the air. And believe it or not, six weeks from now, all votes will have been cast, and the direction of our country will be decided for the next four years, and more.

If you’re like me, the closer election day gets, the more my anxiety level soars.

Just as everyone has made a “Plan to Vote,” we also need to make a “Plan to Cope.” The need to take care of your own mental health is very real. Here are some things I find calming.

Visit Nat Silver’s 538 Website: I don’t really trust polls, but Nate Silver came closest to predicting Trump’s win in 2016, so I tend to trust him. The website is updated daily. The predictions look hopeful.

Be good to yourself: And know you are not alone.

Get Outside and Exercise: When the pandemic started last spring, I found a daily walk refreshing. Then it got too hot, but now cooler fall temperatures are rolling in. This fall, I plan to participate in the “Face Mask Run” 5/10K. Not only does it feel good to get outside and walk, you get some really cool swag featuring the “Hope is not Cancelled” logo.

Read a Good Book or Binge on Netflix: I also enjoy escaping real life by reading fiction, and I recommend “The Henna Artist,” written by Alka Joshi, the sister of a friend and campaign supporter of mine.

Turn Off the News: If the news knocks your spirits down, turn it off. This applies to Facebook as well.

Do Something: If you need to volunteer from home I recommend the Georgia Postcard Project. Launched by Senate 40 resident Tricia Gephardt, her goal is to help turn Georgia blue by sending out 250,000 postcards with personal notes written to voters. Last I heard, they have written 200,000!

Pandemic Campaigning

I’ll be honest, campaigning during a pandemic feels like marching in a rain soaked parade. I’ve never liked making videos, and I miss in-person events. But as I’ve always said, it’s time for each of us to get out of our comfort zone, and do whatever it takes to save our country.

Despite the obstacles, we are still getting our message out to tens of thousands of Senate 40 residents.

Our first mail piece reminded voters to not wait until November 3 to vote, and to use a ballot dropbox if voting by mail. The mail postcard was a success, thanks to many of you who helped fund it. One voter contacted a campaign volunteer to say, “I was really dreading trying to figure out how to get an absentee ballot and then figure out what to do with it after voting. The postcard from Sally Harrell with the website made it easy to go to the link, put in the request, and the postcard also informed me about ballot dropboxes. Knowledge is power! Thought you’d want to know since you work with and support her campaign. She’s got our vote.

In addition to yard signs, handwritten postcards, and campaign literature distribution in apartment complexes, we have several more informative mail pieces going out to voters. We still need help raising the dollars needed for postage, so if you can make a donation, please scroll down to the bottom of this email.

After the Vote, It’s Back to Work We Go!

2021 will be a challenging year for the Georgia legislature and I am prepared to deliver the leadership necessary.

Following the November election, the Governor has said he might immediately call a Special Session. The legislature has no procedure for remote voting, so all sessions will be held In-Person.

We must closely monitor state revenues and write a budget that stimulates the economy so families and businesses can thrive again. It is possible that our regular 40-day session will be spread throughout the calendar year so we can base our budget on actual revenue numbers rather than estimates.

We must continue to work with the Georgia Department of Public Health to control the spread of the virus so schools, long term care facilities, and businesses can thrive. Hopefully this will include rolling out a safe and effective vaccine.

And finally, assuming U.S. Census numbers are ready, we will meet in another Special Session to redraw political districts, from Local School Boards to County Commissions, to Congress. How we approach this will determine the political environment for the next decade.

If there’s one thing people have learned in the last few years, it’s who we elect matters, personally. In the last six months, elected officials have determined if your kids can go to school, whether your unemployment check arrives, how we vote, and how safe it is to go out in public.

When I put my name on the ballot, I made a commitment to the people of Georgia to serve, through good times as well as hard times. We’re in the hard times now, and I remain committed to you, your Senator for the 40th district.