BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
Atlanta, GA, October 26, 2020: In our ongoing series, NRI Pulse is interviewing candidates ahead of the November elections. Taryn Bowman, who is running for election to Georgia House of Representatives to represent District 40, discussed her priorities and views for her district.
Bowman graduated with a B.A. from SMU in Dallas, TX, where she studied business accounting and communications. Beginning at Turner legal department, Bowman’s career path has included working at advertising agency, as a real estate agent, teaching 1st grade in an Atlanta school, as the youth director, working for the Georgia Department of Labor in its Distance Learning Center, acting in films such as “Kingpin” and “Me, Myself, and Irene” out of Los Angeles, working in the production and locations departments on the TV show “Nash Bridges”, working in the production accounting department including “Drumline” and “We Are Marshall,” starting her own film production company, and writing a computer program for Atlanta tax incentives, payroll and set budgeting in the film industry. Bowman serves on the PTA where she chairs the annual publication of the school’s art & literary magazine. She also implemented and runs an APS sponsored spirit club for the students to focus on student spirit, confidence, ownership, and leadership. Bowman is presently serving as the membership chairman on the board of the Mt. Paran-Northside Citizen’s Association and is a member of the Church of the Apostles.
Kartik Bhatt, who currently serves on Georgia Board of Examiners for the Certification of Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant Operators and Laboratory Analysts facilitated the interview.
Your district houses quite a diverse demographic. How do you think this has impacted your district?
Yes. We are not cookie-cutter, which is wonderful in itself. And so, when it comes to legislation or community, it’s very important to look at that, it’s not one size fits all. So, the biggest thing to me about diversity is to make sure that we work together in unity, but also do what’s best for our communities.
What are your top three priorities for your district?
One of the things that I’ve been most involved in is crime prevention and security. I’ve worked very closely with Atlanta police officers. I’m on the Fulton County Sex Trafficking Task Forces dealing with that issue in all of Metro Atlanta. I have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for officers every year, I even went through legislation and got them a police car of their own, which is a huge accomplishment. I’m very proud of that. I am not for defunding the police. I am for reforming our police. I’ll do anything to support our officers and to keep our community safe, our family safe. Because to me that is the number one thing that everything else stems from – to feel safe in your community, safe where you live and have your families safe. Another issue is local control. I really believe that’s paramount. I’m a small business owner. My husband and I are both in the film industry so. So, this pandemic has hit us really hard and I’m so empathetic to this community. It hits me right in my heart. We didn’t have work for a long time. I don’t want to see any more businesses closing around me. So, one thing I want to do in legislation is make sure we support the business and support the families and people in this community to rebound from this pandemic. In the area of Sterigenics, the medical facility where they sterilize medical equipment– I know a lot of people have heard of Sterigenics emitting ethylene oxide into the air. We want an environment that we can live, work, play and breathe in, and not in fear of toxic chemicals and carcinogens. So, they do provide a necessary service that’s necessary to sterilize medical equipment. It just doesn’t need to be done here. And I have a seven-step plan you will be hearing about. I’m not against what they do. And I have a plan to make sure that our community is protected and safe. I’ve always been a proactive protector of the community I feel very, very protective of District 40 and so everything that I do pretty much revolves around that.
Do you think Georgia responded adequately to the pandemic?
I don’t think anybody was fully prepared for this. And I think we have to look at so many facets of it, because we don’t want people to die. The city of Smyrna is doing what they think is best at the time. Nobody’s trying to hurt anybody. Everybody is trying to help. When it comes down to the pandemic, I think local control is better control. Not everything that is right for the nation is right for the state, not everything that’s right for the state is right for the city. I think it all comes down to that, but I do think we’re doing the best that we can. I think more needs to be done and, and I know I have full confidence that next time, should it happen, we are all going to be a lot more prepared because we’ve learned a lot from this. Like right now the hospitals are more prepared. Piedmont, for example, has a whole extra wing and things are set up now so when people get sick, they have a place to go, they have a bed to go in, even if those beds are taken up by COVID patients. Because it’s not just about COVID patients– a car wreck where somebody is about to die may need to be rushed into that hospital. So, it’s about everybody. Do I think things could have been done differently? Yes, of course. But we didn’t know. I think going forward things are going to happen in a much better way.
What are your thoughts about school reopening? What would you do/mandate for safe reopening of schools?
I have three girls that are an eighth, ninth and 11th grade. I have a passion for teachers. I have a passion for students. Kids need interaction, they need to be together, but it has to be done safely. I think this is local again, that a school knows best what’s good for that school, but we have to protect teachers. And we have to protect people in homes, people that these students get back to in the communities. Fall breaks, Thanksgivings and Christmas are coming up. So, people, especially students, if they’re in school and come back, they’re going to visit family they’re going to visit friends. So, it’s not just about the school environment. It’s about the outside environment and everyone else. So, like I said, locally, you have to be thoughtful, the precautions need to be implemented. And we need to support the schools and that’s where government kind of comes into play, in supporting schools, whether it’s county or city government and supporting them monetarily to provide what they need, to sanitize the schools the way that they need to be sanitized and put in those measures to get everything going again.
Georgia is one of 14 states that did not expand Medicaid. House Minority Leader Bob Trammell urged Gov. Brian Kemp to use his increased public health emergency powers to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. What is your stand on this issue?
I don’t think it’s a yes or no answer. It uses expanded federal money. I think we really have to hone in on targeted items. I don’t think you can just say oh let’s expand that again. When it comes down to it, I would think, everybody has a right to health care. And everyone should have health care available to them. But I just think with this question there just so many more facets to it.
There were long lines and accusations of voter suppression in Georgia during the primaries. How would you respond to this?
These accusations to me are false. It’s a false narrative. The absentee ballot is a whole other issue. But the bottom line is, early voting has started. If you wait till the last day, there are chances of longer lines. It is interesting to see the breakdown of these absentee ballots and who’s getting them and who was not. I can’t go with this voter suppression thing. We have too many opportunities to vote. I mean you can vote right now. So how can that be suppression? What I don’t want to see people do is wait till the last minute. In some election places, senior citizens can go to the front of the line. The longer the lines are going to be the less likely that somebody is going to be not voting because it might rain. There might be long lines you might not want to wait in the line, something might come up, you might be sick. But that’s not voter suppression. It’s fun to vote on election day. It’s fine. But just know that there are so many opportunities to vote.
Given the protests, and the riots with regards to BLM, what are your thoughts about police reform?
I’m very involved in the police and preventing crime. I am not for defunding the police, I will say no every time to defund the police. But I’m absolutely for police reform. What I see as a major issue is the demoralization of the police right now. I think a lot of people have had a policeman that I know personally are leaving. If you build up your police, if you moralize them, if you support them, then in turn you are going to reform them. I think they need more money for training on how to deal with us, the citizens. But we need the good officers in there to do that. They are not paid enough for what they do, and they literally put their life on the line, every day for us and they have families too. The whole program does need to be reformed, but not defunded.
Small business owners, among others, are the worst hit during the pandemic. Do you have any plans that will help keep them afloat?
I could go on and on about small businesses, but one thing is income tax. I would like to see it gone, or lower to like maybe even a 10% flat rate. That money is going to go into those businesses and we’re going to see a thriving economy. But it all revolves around making sure that these businesses get money back into them to get out of the hole that they may be in now. Some have closed and some are struggling to hold on and I hope they can hold on until I’m in there in March, because I will do whatever it takes to get them support, in whatever way we can. And I believe that could come in the form of tax reformation too.
Indian Americans, who have never been politically inclined before, are coming out to support your campaign. What do you know about these people and their cultures? And why should the community vote for you?
The community should vote for me because I will work for them. I will work for you. And that’s the thing I feel very proud of. I’m a Republican, but I have Democrats that know me and have worked with me that are putting door hangers for me because it’s about you. It’s about the community and they know what I’ve done, they know that’s what I’m about. When it comes to politics and legislation, for me, it’s being able to listen. to understand, really be effective, and get things accomplished. It’s not about partisan politics and the next media opportunity and making a big headline. When I was six, I moved from Athens to Atlanta when my father became Revenue Commissioner, and I grew up around policy and politics, but I grew up in a time where your integrity meant something. So, you argue in a courtroom at one time and come out and have lunch with your opponent. You are on the same side, you’re on the same team. Yes, you have different views and you have different ways to get somewhere. One thing I like about your community is you all work together and it’s inspiring to me because I think you are effective when you stick together, work together, and you’re helping—for example, what you’re doing right now is wonderful. You are involved, you’re active, you accomplish things. And so, I highly respect every individual and every individual community in this area.