Oklahoma’s Seneca Scott, 32, has focused his efforts as a State Representative to combat poverty and inequality since he was first elected in 2008. Scott stood up to the Republican leaders who voted to cut the income tax for the most wealthy taxpayers while placing a sales tax on basic-needs goods, which disproportionately affects low-income families, and cutting funds to public schools. The former head of the Oklahoma Sustainability Network and a member of the Choctaw tribe, Scott has helped promote community gardens, and even though the Republicans control the majority in the State Legislature, he wrote and successfully passed the law to bring health-food grocery stores to food deserts.
But while Scott is working to improve the livelihoods of his constituents with progressive economic ideas, the Radical Right has concentrated on implementing an ultraconservative social agenda. Scott has taken tough votes by opposing what’s been called “one of the strictest anti-abortion measures in the country” that has “no exemptions for victims of rape and incest.” He also voted against laws to ban stem cell research and deprive women access to contraceptives, and Scott fought measures that weaken voter rights and chip away at health care reform.
Scott’s North Tulsa district is “one of the most diverse in the state” but is also one of the most disadvantaged. He is coming under fire for his pro-choice votes, and is being challenged by Republican Randall Reese. As Seneca Scott defends his progressive record in Oklahoma, Elena Parent is running a principled and competitive campaign against a powerful Republican incumbent in Georgia.
Running in Georgia’s 81st House District in North DeKalb, young progressive Elena Parent is taking on a vulnerable Republican, Jill Chambers, who has served in the State House for eight years. Parent has been active in her community by working for HOPE Atlanta, which fights homelessness, and the Georgia Association for Women Lawyers Foundation. A former litigator, Elena Parent was an aide to a Democratic State Senator before running for the State House.
She vigorously opposed the $3 billion cuts to public education that Republicans were pushing in the name of “austerity,” even while they continued to pass tax cuts to benefit big business. Not only are Republicans prioritizing their pro-corporate agenda over Georgia students, but they are cutting money to education despite the fact that children in Georgia rank near the bottom “when it comes to the health, education, and economic security of its children and their families.”
Elena Parent also understands that helping the economy and the environment must go hand-and-hand, and she has a plan to develop “green-collar” jobs and strengthen the public transportation system. In fact, she has earned the support of the Sierra Club, the AFL-CIO, and Georgia’s teachers.
Georgia’s Republican-led State House has pushed numerous bills that threaten a woman’s right to choose and the rights of the LGBT community. Elena Parent is a pro-choice progressive who has received support from Planned Parenthood and the Georgia WIN List, and she has pledged to “play offense” when defending the rights of gays and lesbians, and told the Georgia Voice that she intends “be a voice for GLBT equality every day” while serving in the State House.
Her Republican opponent, State Rep. Jill Chambers, voted in favor of the state’s harsh anti-immigrant law, supports legislation that undercuts the rights of voters, and wants to prohibit health insurance mandates, a centerpiece of health care reform that lowers costs and ensures universal coverage. Chambers has one of the most pro-corporate voting records in the State House, as she votes lockstep with the wishes of the business lobby.
Desperate to win re-election, Chambers is running deceptive robo-calls against Parent with charges that PolitiFact Georgia said “border on the ridiculous” and gave a “Pants On Fire” rating. Chambers’s nasty attacks have been dubbed “extremely and deliberately misleading,” but are not a surprise in what has been described as “one of the most hotly contested State House races.”
Help Seneca Scott and Elena Parent stand up to their critics and fight for progressive values, as their voices are needed more than ever in their states’ far-right legislatures. Check out the PFAW Action Fund website and visit the candidates’ websites to see how you can help them win in 2010.