When you meet her, Kelly Rose is notable for more than the color of her hair.
Her easy affability and the passion of her tone when she speaks about the issues also make her a stand-out candidate for the Georgia State Senate seat for which she is running, Senate District 17, which represents Henry, Newton and Rockdale counties.
This is Rose’s first time running for elected office. Until 2019, she was busy being a wife, the mother of two, a small business owner and a post production producer in Georgia’s burgeoning TV industry.
But the 2018 election of Governor Brian Kemp and the way he executed his governorship changed Georgia—along with Rose’s thoughts about how civically involved she needed to be.
“Laws are made for us; it is now time to show everyone they can be made by us,” she says.
Rose and her family moved to Georgia in 2016 after Rose did her homework about the state—when Nathan Deal was governor—and realized it offered opportunities for the whole family. It was the perfect place for them to plant roots, allowing Rose and her actor husband to combine their careers with a family life on a farm.
But the repressive leadership of Kemp prompted Rose to get more involved. While women’s reproductive rights were the catalyst for her campaign, it is about “so much more,” Rose says. Small business concerns, overdevelopment, lack of government transparency and a need for increased community participation are all issues about which she cares deeply.
But bring up public education, and she becomes even more passionate. Rose was aghast at the Georgia legislature’s decision to cut over $1 billion in public school funding rather than look for creative ways to cover the gap. As one example, the legislature could have raised the tobacco tax to a national average, which would have generated hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for the state. This slight increase could have eased the cuts on the public education system at a time when Georgians need even more resources, not less, due to the pandemic.
Rose endorses more funding opportunities for small business owners, including informational resources and grants. But she says that the biggest missed opportunity is Georgia’s failure to expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act. Expansion would allow small businesses to take investment risks and be more creative, rather than spend capital on healthcare for themselves and their employees.
Increasing incentives for small business owners to reinvest and take care of workers would allow both to thrive. Rose says, “We can take care of workers, the environment and still be supportive of business.”
The unequal view of a woman’s rights is still a big motivator for Rose. “No matter what, our government should not be limiting our [women’s] fundamental rights.” Rose is talking not only about reproductive rights, but also issues like the lack of OB/GYN access in more than half of Georgia’s counties and a maternal mortality ranking of 50th in the United States.
Instead, she hopes to build a Georgia that would be part of a “better, more compassionate world.”
To learn more about Kelly Rose, visit her website.
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