ATLANTA — We are letting you meet the candidates for the state senate district 26 race. District 26 covers parts of Bibb, Houston, and Jones counties, and all of Twiggs, Wilkinson, Hancock, and Washington counties. Wanya Reese spoke to the incumbent David Lucas and his challenger Verbin Weaver to learn what their priorities are. 

Senator David Lucas says he went to Tuskegee University and worked as a teacher and coach once he graduated. He has been serving voters since 1975 and wants to help balance the state's budget that is being impacted by COVID-19. 

"There is going to be questions about health care -- 'What we do about health care, rural hospitals in Georgia about to close, how do you keep them open?' How to keep a rural hospital open so you can deal with the pandemic in the community," Lucas said. 

If reelected, Lucas also wants to help Bibb County leaders balance their budget by supporting a special sales tax called an "OLOST," or property taxes.

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"We are going to have to raise the taxes, which is out of the OLOST, or we are going to have to raise the millage rate. You cannot pay for policemen coming on or a person handling our business license fees unless you have money to pay them," Lucas said. 

Lucas is being challenged by Verbin Weaver, a self-educated Democrat who has lived in Bibb County since 1999.

"Now as for the millage rate increase, I would expect that one will be necessary, especially when you look at the poverty rate and right of inequality and the negative impact the OLOST would have," Weaver said. 

Weaver says he graduated from Howard High School in 2011 and has worked with the local Democratic party since 2017. He says his upbringing as a Native American helped in his decision to run for office. 

"Fight for the issues that I fight for every single day, including a living wage, fair and equal housing opportunities, expanding voting rights, things that I do in my personal life, without being a legislator," Weaver said. 

Weaver wants legislation that will protect women's rights, legalize marijuana, make two-year colleges free, and to increase Medicaid. In the wake of the shooting death of a jogger in southeast Georgia recently, hate crime legislation is getting pushed once again in the state.

"We need to go ahead and pass the bill -- it is quite obvious we would have not had known about this injustice had that video not been shot," Lucas said. 

"Since we have no domestic terror laws, hate crime laws are the closest thing we can get to them, and the truth is they are necessary to elevate those forms of domestic terroristic actions," Weaver said. 

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