Before, during and after the Nov. 8 midterm election in Georgia, Capital B Atlanta will be speaking with Black voters to hear your thoughts and share your stories. From the campaign trail to local events, “What Black Voters Are Saying” wants to document the issues most important to you. Want to share your story? Hit up politics reporter Chauncey Alcorn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Buena Vista native Barbara Stewart is sick of people in her hometown being forced to drive more than 25 miles to work in Americus and elsewhere just to earn a decent living.
It’s been more than seven years since Tyson Foods closed a poultry processing plant in Stewart’s community. The 56-year-old disabled former cook had trouble naming other major employers in the area two hours south of Atlanta.
She wants elected leaders at the state and local level to fix that and create more job opportunities in the near future. “There needs to be something in the Buena Vista area,” she said.
Capital B Atlanta followed Black Voters Matter activists and their regional partners for a voter engagement bus tour with stops in Buena Vista, Albany, Fort Valley, Cordele, Savannah, and Griffin. We spoke with voters in south Georgia to get a stronger sense of their priorities ahead of the midterm elections in November.
We heard a lot about the cost of living, job prospects, policing, public transit, and health care. Here’s what voters had to say about the issues they want elected leaders to address.
Kaleb Lewis, 18, college student, Albany
“I’d probably say [the] issue of the police and the Black, African-American community. … [If elected] I would talk to all the police in every county and see if they’re all on the same page of what I want to reinforce and inform them about.”
Tracy Riley, 47, Lithonia
“Abortion rights, because women, we’re in the 21st century. Come on now! We should be able to say what we want as far as our body is concerned.”
Traemel Crawford, 28, communications coordinator, Augusta
“Student loans is definitely a heavy-hitting subject right now, even [for] those who are in college. It takes effect on everybody, really. They gave out $20,000 [in student loan forgiveness] to those who are Pell Grant recipients. … Yes, that helps out, but I’m still in student loan debt. I just believe they should go ahead and wipe away student loan debt, really, because what’s the purpose of student loans? I feel like college should be free.”
Pat Harris, retired educator, Savannah
“Voting rights. Denying people the privilege of voting as they should be able to vote. Creating opportunities for them not to vote, preventing them from having water while you’re standing in line; you’re creating injustices that [do] not make sense. You want to take us back to 1960 or ’70, and we are not going back.”
Cheryl Walker, 64, retired educator, Griffin
“I think we need to increase our health care. We’re worried about our women and health care. … We do have a hospital here. They seem to take care of the people here, but [our hospital] takes care of several counties.”
Joyce Beaufort, reading intervention teacher, McDonough
“The affordability of health care. As an educator, I know there are some people that struggle with taking care of their health because they’re not financially able to go to the doctor when they need to. It’s a financial burden when they get sick. I even know some educators who don’t take out insurance because they can’t afford it.”
Robert Davis, 20, college student, Savannah State University
“My top issue right now is probably inflation. It’s kicking my butt right now. It’s manhandling me right now. Gas prices, you know, certain food items, and stuff is going up. I’m just a college student right now, so seeing this, it’s not going good for me. It used to take me about $45. Now it takes me about $70 to fill up my tank.”