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that Washington has for this nation is that we will always be a grassroots nation,” he said. “Never forget that. Never forget the power that you hold right here, that you hold in this community. That is where you want power, that is where our Founders intended it to be, and that’s what I am going to insist on.”
Following his address, Allen answered audience questions regarding bank account privacy and taxes, and he reassured the public that he will “fight for what is right.” Senator Blake Tillery
Senator Tillery focused his address on the importance of servant leaders in government during these “wild times.” Tillery told the public that he expected several social and moral issues to come up in session, including: the 10th Amendment, the differentiation in federal and states’ rights, division, police issues, and education.
Tillery used First Baptist Church of Lyons’s Pastor Dannie Williams, where the legislative luncheon was held, as an example of servant leadership. He explained that the event was being held at Williams’s church, which gave him no responsibility in the preparation for the luncheon, yet Williams was emptying trash cans prior to the beginning of the luncheon.
“Most politicians hate to be referred to as ‘servants’ or ‘servant leaders’, but hopefully, at least sometimes, we are,” he emphasized. “Hopefully, we are able to take your calls and take your concerns, and address them in a way that brings some type of value to your family.” According to Tillery, representing this area is a unique challenge, because he must serve a district that is full of servant-leaders. “For many, many generations before us, people emptied trash cans,” he said. “Maybe they weren’t exactly emptying trash cans, but they were volunteering for their Parent Teacher Association, or being a community coach, or other serving activities. That has been the community we live in for decades.”
Tillery repeatedly referred to the expectation that the 10th Amendment, which discusses the unnamed powers of Congress and the federal government, and the determination of state powers versus federal powers. He also noted that he expects that division will continue to be a hot topic in the state, as unity in society tends to diminish daily.
“Remember the generations that came before you — the generations of trash can-emptiers,” he challenged attendees. “Remember that when these people had the opportunity to run to whatever it was and give their opinion, but chose not to. Instead, they walked over and emptied the trash cans.”
He also educated the crowd on a growing issue. “With our population not growing as fast as the rest of the state, there are less legislators that see life through the same prism as you,” Tillery explained. “It just makes our job a little more difficult.”
According to Tillery, police issues are sure to come up in the current legislative session, but he promises to remain true to his belief that government was created for justice, and police officers are instrumental and imperative in the fulfillment of that purpose.
Another issue that Tillery believes will be discussed is the amount of involvement that parents should have in their children’s education. “I firmly believe that parents should be involved in the education of their children, and I will continue to fight for that cause,” he reaffirmed.
When questioned on whether gun rights legislation would be discussed, Tillery stated that he believes constitutional carry will be a hot topic for state governments everywhere. “The main opposition to this concept is the worry of preventing firearms from being available to those whose mental illness prevents them from using the weapon responsibly,” he said. “To combat that, I foresee the legislation proposing that if you can legally pass all standards to buy a gun, you may carry a gun.”
Tillery concluded his address with a challenge to the public. “There is going to be a generation that walks behind us and looks at what we did,” he told the crowd. “We need you to be that group in the community that will plant the trees whose shade the next generation will walk under. Be a seed planter.”
Representative Leesa Hagan
While Hagan is entering her inaugural session in her political career, she has gained an idea of topics that will be discussed during her recent time in the Capitol while working on redistricting during a special session in late 2021.
Hagan began her address thanking the community members who were advocates for the area during redistricting. “I am proud to say that we were able to keep Toombs and Montgomery Counties both whole and together, and it is because of the hard work and support from you all,” she emphasized. She also shared Wheeler County has been added to the district which she represents.
She praised the community’s work with youth in the area. “Our education systems are a priority here, and it is getting noticed,” she noted. “They are topnotch and continuing to get better. We also have a wonderful recreation department and leaders who work to impact our youth.”
Mental health, election reform, and constitutional carry are three topics that Hagan is sure will be discussed throughout the current session. “I’m sure each one of you in this room has been touched by mental health issues in one way or another,” she remarked. “We know we can treat our body physically, but we have not mastered how to treat illness in our mind. I am excited to see some long-overdue and much needed attention on this topic.”
Hagan explained that election reform will focus on making elections fair and accessible to everyone, while remaining lawful.
She informed the public that 12 bills have already been filed regarding constitutional carry, which solidifies the topic’s presence in the current session. Hagan invites the public to share their input with her on this topic as negotiations regarding the bills move forward.