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District 147 candidates share top priorities ahead of Election Day

Reporter Molly Jett asked Bethany Ballard and Ariel Phillips what they think is the most pressing concern among voters in Houston County, and how they'd help.

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — We're less than a month away from Election Day, when some of you will vote on state, local and federal races, including House District 147 in Georgia's General Assembly.

Bethany Ballard and Ariel Phillips say they've been campaigning for weeks.

Phillips is the Democrat candidate, and Ballard is a Republican.

Both hope to win your vote on November 8th for District 147.

Republican Bethany Ballard is a former English teacher.

"I understand the challenges that we face as a region. I understand our amazing successes, so I think I can be a strong voice in the legislature," Ballard said.

Democrat Ariel Phillips is a disabled Air Force Veteran.

"I want to be a very transparent, accessible person that people know they can come to figure out whatever they need to figure out to make their lives easier," Phillips said.

Ballard and Phillips believe Georgia's education system is strong, but they want to keep improving.

"Some different ways to do diploma tracks. We've got kids who want to go to four-year colleges, two-year colleges, enter the workforce right from high school, or join the military," Ballard said.

"That one step from great to how we make this the best is to make sure we are keeping teachers and that we are making sure they feel heard and valued, and I think the first step is making sure they can collectively bargain in the State of Georgia," Phillips said.

Ballard and Phillips gave suggestions on Georgia's worker shortage.

"We need to go back and focus on education. We need to make sure we are focusing on vocational and trade education for those kids who don't want to pursue college or the military. They need to be ready to enter that workforce," Ballard said.

"Bring up the minimum wage to something that is livable and then giving workers better paid parental leave will help with work shortages. It'll make them feel more valued at the bare minimum, and people who feel valued are going to produce more," Phillips said.

Both say public safety is a top priority.

"If we focus on our law enforcement officers and their training and their safety, and we focus on getting violent offenders off the street, I think that the public safety issue will come a long way," Ballard said.

"Criminal justice reform, so making sure when people end up in the prison system, they have the resources they need and when they get out to not be as likely to recommit offenses," Phillips said.

13WMAZ also asked Ballard and Phillips what they think is the most pressing concern among voters in Houston County and how they'd help.\
"People are definitely worried about the economy, and I think that we can help that at the federal level, I mean the state level because it's a federal mismanagement issue; but, at the state level, we can just make sure our businesses are strong," Ballard said. "We can make sure that we are being conservative with our money."

"Black women suffer disproportionately death maternal rates; and by not giving them the ability to have abortion or reproductive access at all, that's completely unfair," Phillips said. "That's oppressing a certain part of the community that is not necessary. So, reproductive rights number one."

They also say they feel qualified for the job.

"I have worked really hard to develop relationships with our community, with the business people in our area, other elected officials," Ballard said. "I think all of those things, as well as me, being a former educator, it just sets me up to represent Middle Georgia."
It is a chance to represent an area that helped broaden Phillips' worldview.

"I know that I would be a great representative for every member of District 147. My background started in a small conservative town, brought me to Warner Robins, put me in the military, where I opened up my worldview," Phillips said. "I've experienced in different jobs, so many different people, with some many different backgrounds and ideals; and I am a conglomeration of multiple political ideologies."

District 147 includes parts of Warner Robins and Centerville.

And as a reminder, October 11th marks the last day Georgians can register to vote in the November election.


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