Walmartâ€™s lobbyist, Roy Robinson III, donated $500 to Representative Keith Heard. Recently, Heard chided opponents of a downtown Walmart, saying that more people need to speak up for Walmart and implying that opposition to Walmart was opposition to new jobs and new businesses. Heard, who has come under criticism for living over an hour away from Athens instead of in the district he represents, did not address concerns about traffic congestion, Walmartâ€™s negative impact on local businesses or Walmartâ€™s poor treatment of its workforce.
Heard has a long history of speaking up for big business while ignoring the concerns of the Athens community. Heard voted with Republicans for Georgia Powerâ€™s billion-dollar rate hike to fund a nuclear power plant. He voted with Republicans to allow private billboard companies to cut down public trees, and he voted with Republicans to bring back predatory payday lending to Georgia.
I have spent the last year working on a river district proposal that would have brought low environmental impact, high technology jobs to Athens in place of the proposed downtown Walmart. I have also been a vocal advocate for opportunity zones, a state program that provides tax incentives for companies that create jobs in poverty stricken census tracts. In my day job, I am the executive director of the Athens Area Habitat for Humanity, and in my 10-plus years at Habitat I have never seen anyone lifted out of poverty because of Walmart. Walmart is not economic development. This is a wrong solution to a real problem.
Candidate for Georgia State House District 118
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