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Democrat Nolin running for Congress in the 12th
Retired teacher hopes to unseat Republican candidate in November
W Joyce Nolin 2
Joyce Nolin

Joyce Nolin, a retired teacher, former day care operator and home care nursing assistant from Evans in Columbia County, often talks about education and health care in her bid as a Democrat for U.S. House of Representatives in Georgia’s 12th District.

Nolin is one of two Democrats for the seat named on their party’s ballot in the May 24 primaries, for which advanced voting opened Monday. But the other Democrat, Patricia C. McCracken, has been hard to find. Meanwhile, incumbent Congressman Rick Allen, who won the district for the Republicans in 2014, faces a Republican challenger, Eugene Yu, in their party’s primary.

“I have never done anything in politics before other than vote and teach my children to vote,” Nolin said in a phone interview. “But this campaign there was something that said, way down in my gut, that if nobody else did anything, I needed to, and so I’m in it to sort of change the direction of the rhetoric that we’re hearing coming out of Washington.”


State concerns

Of course, she’s running for a federal office. But Nolin added that she has become very concerned about some things happening at the state level, and those were the first issues she talked about.

“I’m very much against the Opportunity School District, especially as a constitutional amendment, which if it passes in November, would be something that couldn’t be changed for maybe 50 to 100 years,” Nolin said.

Proposed by Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican, the Opportunity School District legislation would temporarily remove schools that repeatedly have failing scores on the state’s school performance index from local control. They could be placed in a statewide “district,” under a governor-appointed superintendent, and could be operated under charters or by contracted organizations.

“I view that as big government taking over, which should be a Republican concern also, since they are anti-big-government,” Nolin said.

Interviewed a week ago, Nolin expressed her opposition both to state House Bill 757, the “religious liberty” bill, proposed as shielding ministers and others from participation in same-sex weddings, and House Bill 859, which would have allowed handguns to be carried by permit holders age 21 and over on college campuses.

At the time she was interviewed, Nolin noted that Deal had vetoed HB 757, but said she believes state legislators will try to bring it back next year.

“I think it will still be out and will be considered, but to me that just promoted discrimination and made people suspicious of each other and sort of creates hatred,” Nolin said.

After Deal vetoed the “campus carry” bill Tuesday, the governor winds up being on the same side as Nolin on both of these.

“I have two grandchildren that are going to college,” Nolin said. “If the college students and faculty had asked the Legislature, you know, ‘We’re scared; we need guns,’ I would have said I can understand their passing the guns on campus, but when they were all against it – students, faculty, Board of Regents – and it still was passed …  I felt that was not representation of the people.”

She acknowledged that these were state issues, but said they reflect national concerns.


Issues for Congress

On federal health care policy, Nolin thinks a single-payer system to provide care for everyone would be the best option. “But if we don’t go that far, we need to fix some things that are in the Affordable Care Act,” she said.

A close relative of hers, Nolin said, was having trouble finding a doctor who would accept her insurance.

“And so I think there need to be some regulations or something that keeps people from having to shop around, and I think the high deductible makes it difficult for many people to get the health care they need,” Nolin said.

On national security, Nolin agrees with Allen that the Islamic State terrorist organization, active in Iraq and Syria and often called ISIS, is a threat that must be eliminated. She referred to Allen as “my opponent,” expressing confidence they will face each other in the Nov. 8 general election.

“My opponent is very much ‘We’ve got to get rid of ISIS,’ which I agree we need to get rid of ISIS, but my position is that war is our very last resort,” Nolin said. “Negotiations and an alliance with the other countries that are involved is a better course to take.”

Nolin, 78, has six grown children and four stepchildren, 22 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. She received her bachelor’s degree in education from what is now Georgia Southern University in the last year it was Georgia Teachers College. In the 1960s, she was a Statesboro resident for three years, as a faculty wife.

She taught English and drama for 28 years at Evans High School. From 1981 to 1987, she left teaching to spend time with her younger children and operated Joyland Daycare with the help of her two older daughters.

After retiring from teaching, she worked in the costume departments at North Shore Music Theatre in Massachusetts and the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

After returning to Georgia, Nolin became a certified nursing assistant, and worked in home care, mainly with hospice patients. She has served as religious education director and board president for her church, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Augusta.

“The truth is I feel like I’ve lived much of my life for this time in my life,” Nolin said.

The Statesboro Herald has not heard from the other candidate who appears on the Democratic ballot. Patricia Carpenter McCracken, from Augusta, also ran for lieutenant governor in 2010. Her phone numbers on state forms from that time no longer work. A state Democratic Party contact could not reach her, and Nolin said McCracken has not appeared at party events in their home area.

Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.


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