February 21, 2018

Congressional Candidate Joe Hunt Should Meet With Everyone

In November 2017, Joe Hunt, Republican challenger for Jody Hice’s congressional seat, asked to speak at one of Indivisible Georgia District 10’s regular monthly meetings. Chalis Montgomery and Richard Winfield, Democratic challengers, were each given five minutes during Indivisible meetings to outline their platforms and were invited to stay after the meeting to speak to members and to pass out cards and literature, which they did.

During the primary, Indivisible Georgia District 10 members decided not to endorse candidates as an organization. Instead, Indivisible 10 members wish to hear from all candidates so they can decide for themselves who to vote for in the May 22 primary.

As co-chair of Indivisible Georgia District 10, I initially spoke to Andy Gohn, Hunt’s chief of staff, to set a date, and I explained our policy not to endorse candidates before the primary, but said that our members were eager to hear from all of the candidates, including Hunt. Gohn said Hunt would probably speak at one of our meetings and that Gohn would get back to me. However, because he did not contact me on the day we agreed to, I called Liam Watson, Hunt’s campaign manager, a couple of days later. At first, he told me that Hunt had a scheduling conflict and would not be able to come to our meeting. Then he told me that Hunt would not speak at our meeting because his voters, meaning Republicans, would not be happy if he spoke at an Indivisible meeting.

I was under the impression that members of Congress represent all of their constituents—Republicans and Democrats alike. So I find it unresponsive and rude that Hunt refused to speak to us, especially because he is the one who approached us with a request to speak. Our group has a set of agreed-upon values: non-violence, respect, fairness and inclusion. We have a code of ethics: no violence, no talk of violence and no weapons. I explained to Hunt’s staff that he would be treated exactly as Montgomery and Winfield were, with respect and fairness.

All three of these candidates hope to unseat Jody Hice, who has never held a public town hall meeting in Athens since he took office in 2015. I recently learned, through personal experience, that he is refusing to have meetings with anyone who has already had a sit-down meeting with him in his office. Furthermore, his scheduler, Taylor Ford, is now screening people who request first-time meetings by interrogating them regarding the details of the requested meeting.  

What we don’t need in District 10 is another representative who is unresponsive to District 10 constituents. What we don’t need is a U.S. congressperson who chooses people with whom to speak based on party affiliation or similar views. Instead, we need a congressional representative who represents all residents of District 10—Democrats and Republicans, voters and nonvoters, citizens and non-citizens, whites and people of color, gay people and straight people, those who own guns and those who do not, those who are pro-choice and those who are not.

We need someone to represent us who does not see differences but, instead, someone who embraces everyone’s human dignity. This country was founded on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, not on human rights for a select few.

The primary will be held on May 22. The deadline to register to vote in the primary is Apr. 24. I urge everyone to vote in the primary in order to unseat Hice in November.