Rep. Jan Tankersley of Brooklet, seeking another two-year term after eight years representing C in the Georgia House, says she brings a track record of “solid votes” and public service.
Robert Busbee, a Statesboro attorney, is challenging her for the seat as a fellow Republican, so District 160 voters choosing the GOP primary ballot in Tuesday’s election will decide the race.
Herald: Why should House District 160 voters choose you to be their state representative?
Tankersley: “I have a proven, conservative track record of delivering for my community with solid votes and accomplishment at every level of public service. I have a deep sense of who we are in this district, what we want as individuals and for our families and children, and what we need to attract businesses and industries for better paying jobs.
“This comes from growing up here, raising my children in the local schools, volunteering and serving to protect and improve our way of life,” she continued. “I know the community firsthand, having worked in civic clubs, the local chamber, leadership groups and volunteer activities.
“I am not concerned about the elected title or interested in ‘making a name for myself’ for any gain,” Tankersley said. “I am running again to continue to make a difference with visible results. …”
Herald: Now that revenue is growing again, the General Assembly acted this year to reduce the state's income tax rate. Do you want to see further tax cuts, or is the money needed to rebuild a reserve or for other priorities?
Tankersley: “I was proud to vote for the passage of legislation that brings tax rates down from 6 percent to 5.75 percent in 2019 and to 5.5 percent in 2020. This will be the largest reduction in state income taxes since the personal income tax was implemented in 1934 and the corporate rate in 1969. This historic legislation alone will drive up take-home pay for every family and individual in our state, allow current businesses to grow, and create a better competitive tax advantage to attract new industries.
“Many other states raised taxes during the Great Recession…,” she continued. “By avoiding that trap, Georgia is reaping the rewards from living within our means, cutting waste, prioritizing education and jobs and strengthening the Rainy Day Fund to its highest level.
“I am in favor of tax reform measures that would more fairly distribute taxes among all citizens and not just those who own property,” she continued. “I offer input into needed budget cuts and identify increased funding needs as a member of the Appropriations Committee. We made tremendous strides towards rural revitalization this year and I will continue to work towards further additional funding. …”
Gun violence is an issue that merits much more discussion than can be allowed in this article. I support the Second Amendment …, which makes it clear we have an individual right to keep and bear arms.Rep. Jan Tankersley, incumbent House District 160 candidate
Herald: What steps should the state take to protect against attacks on schools and gun violence in general?
Tankersley: “The State of Georgia has been proactive in protecting our most vulnerable population, our children, against attacks on school campuses. I voted to pass (House Resolution) 1414 to appoint a School Security Study Committee. … This committee will meet in various locations around the state for professional and public input to implement, strengthen and improve school security. …
“I voted to approve $16 million in School System Safety Grant money for local Boards of Education,” she continued. “Bulloch County was awarded a $93,286 and Bryan County $85,142 in this regard. I am unwavering in my commitment to protect our children.
“Gun violence is an issue that merits much more discussion than can be allowed in this article,” Tankersley said. “I support the Second Amendment …, which makes it clear we have an individual right to keep and bear arms. I am the only candidate with a voting record that documents my strong support of this amendment and our freedom. I have been given an “A” rating by the NRA for the past eight years. I own a pistol for my protection, and my husband, son, and grandchildren are hunters.
“I will continue to push for and support legislation that further addresses the mentally ill, the opioid crisis and stricter punishment for criminals who choose to exercise gun violence,” she said.
Herald: What issue that hasn't been mentioned here is a top priority for you?
Tankersley: “I listen closely to my community and residents have made it clear their highest priorities are better paying jobs, excellent education for their children, more affordable healthcare, strong public safety and protection of our natural resources. My highest priority has been and will continue to be fighting for Bulloch and North Bryan counties to assure our needs and interests are met at the state level.
“This means that every individual, family, school, business, road, river, college and university in HD 160 is foremost on my mind as I review issues, legislation and possible solutions. I am committed to assuring our children and grandchildren can fulfill their dreams and potential right here in the greatest place to live, work and raise a family.”
Tankersley, now 70, served five years on Brooklet City Council and 10 years as a Bulloch County commissioner before she was first elected to the Legislature in 2010. She chairs the House Intergovernmental Coordination Committee and serves on the Appropriations, Rules, Agriculture & Consumer Affairs and Natural Resources & Environment committees.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.
Tankersley responds on Busbee comment
In one of his answers for the Q&A story, state House District 160 challenger Robert Busbee asserted that Rep. Jan Tankersley has received most of her campaign contributions from outside the district and has voted “yes” on over 98 percent of legislation.
The newspaper has not attempted to verify these numbers. But Tankersley attributes her voting in favor of a high percentage of enacted legislation to her position in the Republican majority and a powerful committee.
"We are voting on the Republican agenda, and I serve on the Rules Committee," she said in a phone call. "I attend committees where the bills are heard, and then the final step before the bills go before the body for debate is the Rules Committee, where I have a final opportunity to have input into bills."
As for campaign contributions,
Tankersley said she doesn’t know about "hundreds of thousands of dollars" and that, for example, she didn’t count contributions from a recent fundraiser to see how much came from local people and how much from political action committees, or “lobbyists.”
"But I do know I had one Thursday night, and it was a very good fundraiser, and yes, lobbyists did contribute, as well as a number of local people," she said.
Local supporters often bring checks from political action committees, such as doctors on behalf of a medical PAC or foresters on behalf of a forestry group, Tankersley said.
She said she doesn't look to a list of donors in deciding how to vote on any bill.
"We have lobbyists for educational efforts, for those with disabilities," Tankersley said. "Lobbyists are not evil beings."
All her campaign donations and spending are fully accounted for with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, and campaigns are more expensive than they used to be, she added.