Four women are running in the 6th Congressional District special election April 18, including Democrat Ragin Edwards, who says Georgia has a long way to go toward gender equality.
Georgia has no female representative in Congress, and the Peach State ranks 49th out of the 50 states for women elected to state and federal office.
“I have two daughters, and I feel that women are being ignored and undervalued today,” Edwards said. “We’re the only group in the world treated as second-class citizens anywhere you go. I want my daughters to grow up in a country where they can get paid the same as a male counterpart and where they don’t have to worry about their rights being taken.”
Georgia has elected only five women to Congress, most recently Democrat Cynthia McKinney, who left office in 2007 after losing the party primary in the 4th District to Hank Johnson.
Running on a campaign slogan of bringing government back to the people, Edwards’ top priorities are improved education, tax legislation that favors the middle class, and racial and gender equality.
She does not support repeal of the Affordable Care Act but said it does need to be fixed to lower premiums.
Edwards grew up in East Cobb and graduated from Pope High School before enrolling at Georgia Tech. She then moved to Washington, where she completed her degree at Nyack College. She moved back to East Cobb to raise a family a few years ago and now works as a senior manager of global sales operations at a technology services firm.
“I’m able to put myself in the shoes of the people that different laws will affect,” she said. “I understand how small things can affect certain groups of people astronomically. I understand how it is to work for a global organization and how regulations that are put on the company don’t allow them to thrive. That perspective is one that most of the candidates don’t have.”
She has some famous family. Her cousin Eugene Jacques Bullard was the first black fighter pilot in the world; he flew for France during World War I. Her grandmother was a well-known minister in Rochester, N.Y., where she fed the homeless and founded a nonprofit for women who were victims of sex trafficking.
Edwards visited Israel with her mother and a Christian tour group in 2008 and said it was the best trip she has ever been on.
“You read the Bible, and then you see where everything happened,” she said. “It really helps you put everything in perspective. For such a small country, it’s amazing how much goes on there.”
She said the United States has probably done more harm than good the past few years in trying to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
The 6th District has elected Republicans since 1978. But Edwards, running as a Democrat, said that if elected she would take all viewpoints into consideration.
“I do tend to vote Democratic, and I have certain values that align with my party in terms of equality and education,” she said. “But I’m not a person who won’t listen to the other side. Representatives are supposed to align with their district, not the other way around.”