“You’re not born to hate; you’re taught to hate.” –Devin Pandy
It Happened One Night
One night in late November 2019, Devin Pandy was watching the impeachment hearings and was utterly appalled by the way Republicans (in particular, his own representative, Doug Collins of Georgia) “were treating people who I saw to be patriots doing their duty to speak truth to power.” That night was the breaking point. Devin Pandy was fed up! He was fed up with the Republicans’ blatant disregard of facts, their disrespect toward witnesses, and the dishonor they brought to the constitutional SCOTUS nomination process.
Ret. Chief Warrant Officer Pandy served 21 years in the U.S. Army including five deployments to Panama, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. “The things that we as soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors—things we think we are fighting for—we come back and realize those things aren’t happening.” Republicans in Congress were elected to office to serve the American people, but now “they are only serving themselves.”
Serving others and doing his duty are Devin’s raison d’être. Pandy’s father, who also served 20 years in the Army taught his son to “stick up for people” and not to be a bully. “Befriend people who need a friend.” During his own military service, Pandy learned “not to just stand by and watch bad things happen” and “not to complain about something without having a solution.”
That fateful November night, Devin decided he could not sit and watch these bad things happen anymore. He needed to find out who was running against incumbent Doug Collins so he could support that candidate. Unfortunately, the only Democrat running was mired in ethics issues and was not someone Devin “could in good conscience support.” That candidate later dropped out of the race.
The Call to Serve
Serendipity, karma or destiny? The very next day, Devin was asked by some Democrats who had seen his Twitter feed if he would consider running for Collins’s seat. A man of action, morals and responsibility, Pandy gave the idea serious thought. Ultimately Pandy decided it was his duty to serve his country once again, this time as a civilian. But now, the decision was not Devin’s to make alone; it needed to be made with his fiancé, Atiya. The couple consider themselves to be private individuals, so stepping out into the spotlight would bring attention neither had sought before. But the mission was more important than themselves. Devin would be fighting for justice, for freedom, for equity and democracy. He could no longer stand on the sidelines watching bad things happen. The solution to this problem was to take the risk and run for Congress.
A Country Farmer
“Georgia has always been on my mind.” This was Devin’s answer to my question about why, after living in so many different places, did he choose to retire in Georgia? Devin shared that he has wonderful memories of Georgia from his childhood. Pandy’s father (who grew up on a farm in Belize) was first stationed at Fort Stewart, located southwest of Savannah. The family “had a garden and lots of animals—not just cats and dogs, but turtles, goats and chickens.” In fact, no matter where Pandy’s father was posted, the family always created their own little farm. “I always wanted that type of life.” So, when it came to choosing a retirement location, a farm in Georgia felt just right. Planning ahead, Chief Warrant Officer Pandy requested his last posting be in Georgia. The Army granted his wish. Devin loves to say that his father’s first duty station was his last duty station.
Now, however, Devin is marrying a city girl. Their compromise was the city of Gainesville, located in Northern Georgia near the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Nevertheless, Devin insists, “I’m going to have my ranch, I’m going to have my bee farm, I’m going to have my chickens—and I’m going to rescue horses—at some point.”
Northern Georgia—The Deep Red South
The foothills of the Appalachian Mountains are a gorgeous place to live, but Northern Georgia is also known for its deep red roots. In April of this year, the Ku Klux Klan held a “white pride” rally in Rome, Georgia. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the racist, anti-Semitic, Q-Anon conspiracy theorist chose to run in North Georgia even though she has long lived in Alpharetta, a northeastern suburb of Atlanta. I had to ask: Why would Devin Pandy, an Afro-Latino man, choose North Georgia for his retirement farm? Was he brave or just crazy?
Not crazy—Devin Pandy moved to North Georgia with his eyes wide open. Gainesville, where he and his fiancé reside, is part of Georgia’s 9th Congressional District and is 87% white. Pandy is acutely aware that there are racist hate groups in his district.“They take pride in their Confederate heritage. They take pride in their flag.” Pandy explains what white nationalists refuse to recognize is that “the same heritage they’re trying to protect is a heritage that successfully, for a very long time destroyed the heritage of others.” They don’t seem to care that their hateful words and actions cause others emotional pain, and even worse physical injury or death. Racists’ lack of empathy and compassion for others is saddening and disturbing.
“You’re not born to hate; you’re taught to hate.”
Ever the optimistic idealist, Devin asserts: no one is born a racist. Racism is taught. By that same logic, tolerance can be taught, too. The Republicans’ fear campaigns need to be met with calm facts and logic. “It’s only when we can bridge that gap of understanding that people will be able to see beyond themselves. It’s going to take some brave souls to continue pushing the correct narrative of what that history truly means.” Devin Pandy is certainly one of those brave souls.
Pandy is squaring off against his Republican opponent, Andrew Clyde, in November. (Doug Collins resigned from the U.S. Congress to run for the Senate seat Kelly Loeffler was appointed to last December when Sen. Johnny Isakson retired due to illness.) Even though Devin is new to politics, he is gaining widespread support both in state and out. His name is nationally known and he is receiving donations from all over the country. Pandy describes his 9th District supporters as “really great. They value the lives of other human beings.”
Healthcare. Climate Change. Veterans’ Affairs.
When asked to name the top three areas Devin Pandy intends to address as Georgia’s 9th District U.S. Congressman, he replied: healthcare, climate change and veterans’ affairs.
Governor Kemp has refused to expand Medicaid, putting Georgians’ health at serious risk—even more so now, during the worst pandemic in a century. “All he has to do is sign his name,” explains Pandy. Expanding Medicaid would save the state money, and more importantly, would provide 450,000 additional Georgians with health insurance. Pandy was outraged and even more determined to provide solutions to Georgia’s healthcare problems when he heard Rep. Doug Collins say, “I don’t want to repeal and replace. I just want to repeal it. And let’s start there.” He’s a millionaire, Pandy explains, so it isn’t going to affect him.
As the son of a farmer and a wannabe rancher, it’s no surprise Devin Pandy is passionate about tackling climate change, protecting Georgia’s wilderness areas, and stopping corporate depredation of public lands. He also believes it is imperative that the United States rejoin and support the Paris Climate Agreement. Pandy asserts we must trust and heed the advice of the scientific community.
The Pandy family, including Devin’s father and his siblings, have served in the U.S. Army. As a retired Chief Warrant Officer and career military man, serving veterans is a personal mission. In Congress, Pandy wants to introduce The Home for the Brave Act 2021 which would provide states with resources to create affordable housing for homeless veterans. “No one who has served this country through military service should ever suffer the indignity of homelessness.”
Find out more here: Devin Pandy for Congress
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