Georgia House of Representatives, District 54
Our pick: Bill Bozarth
Add another luxury to the list of perks in Buckhead: an independent candidate. Running to replace Ed Lindsey, the long-serving GOP state rep who resigned to launch an unsuccessful congressional bid, is Republican attorney Beth Beskin, Democratic adman Bob Gibeling, and retired IBM executive and ethics advocate Bill Bozarth, an independent. Beskin is competent. But if her main policy goal of doing away with the income tax were truly possible, the GOP-controlled and tax-adverse Gold Dome would have done it by now. Gibeling is a strong candidate who has championed for anti-discrimination legislation. He has earned the endorsement of a wide range of labor, LGBTQ, and other groups. But those credentials don't stack up next to the experience and passion of Bozarth, whose presence is needed at the Capitol. The 71-year-old Garden Hills resident has long been a hardcore community activist — he helped sue to prevent the Lindbergh MARTA mixed-use development from becoming a mega-parking lot — and served as the executive director of nonprofit watchdog Common Cause Georgia from 2002 to 2010.
Yes, advocating for ethics reform was his literal job. To get his name on the ballot as an independent candidate, Bozarth spent several months walking door-to-door to collect more than 1,500 signatures in the district (thanks, Georgia's shitty ballot access laws). If elected, he wants to: see Georgia's antiquated tax system overhauled in a way that boosts economic development but ensures we stop cutting cash for education and health care; put his ethics reform know-how to work; explore new transportation funding solutions; and study energy policy. He'll be on no one's side but that of his constituents' — we need more people like him under the Gold Dome.