Rep. Deborah Silcox faces opposition in the Republican primary for Georgia’s 52nd District from Gavi Shapiro on May 22, but the freshman lawmaker said she is not worried because she addressed a number of issues during this year’s Georgia General Assembly session.
Most of the 52nd is in Silcox’s native Sandy Springs, with a slice of Buckhead added. She said she’s proud to serve the district and its well-connected Jewish community.
Silcox graduated from Riverwood High School and majored in political science and French at the University of Georgia. She earned a law degree from Emory University and has practiced law for over 10 years.
She won her House seat in 2016, defeating Graham McDonald in a close Republican primary to succeed Joe Wilkinson, who retired. She had no opposition in the general election, although Democrat Shea Roberts awaits the Republican nominee this year.
Silcox’s recent legislative work included serving as the House sponsor for Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick’s Senate Bill 356, which aims to strengthen financial and legislative support for the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust.
The bill also clears the way for the commission to design and “place in a prominent location” a Holocaust memorial, paid for with private money.
“I think the memorial will be a great addition to our state, and with the Anne Frank exhibit in Sandy Springs and the Holocaust Commission, I hope they find a location in Sandy Springs because it is such an important part of our community,” said Silcox, who spoke during the commission’s Days of Remembrance ceremony at the Capitol on Friday, April 20.
Silcox said she fully supports S.B. 327, which bans Georgia from conducting business with entities that boycott, divest or sanction Israel. “I think Israel is the United States’ strongest ally in the Middle East, and we need to maintain that relationship.”
She was against a religious liberty bill that was opposed by rabbis and other religious leaders on the grounds that it would have allowed discrimination if people could present a religious justification.
“I was pleased we didn’t pass that bill because, as is the case with any bill, it always depends on the language,” she said. “I am certainly not opposed to religious freedom. I think that is a very important and critical part of our American values. But at the same time I would not be in favor of any bill that discriminates against anyone.”
Among the many bills Silcox has sponsored, she said she is particularly excited about the passage of House Bill 419, which gives local control to city and county officials regarding the times when fireworks may be used. That has been a big problem in the district, she said, because people could set off fireworks as late as midnight, which disturbed people such as veterans, the elderly and young children.
Silcox worked to ease outdated obstacles to child adoption, then opposed S.B. 375, which would have let agencies reject couples for not aligning with their spiritual beliefs. Silcox said she is excited about the earlier legislation that passed because it will make adoption friendlier in Georgia, where the number of children in foster care has tripled.
In response to Shapiro’s claim that Silcox provided a tax break to yacht owners, she said she voted for H.B. 125 in 2017 because Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah), the chairman of the House Economic Development & Tourism Committee, told her the Georgia coast was not receiving any business for repairing boats and helping people with larger vessels.
“We were receiving zero percent of that business, and that was because we were not competitive with Florida or South Carolina. So, I did vote for this tax break, but it has brought hundreds of jobs to the Georgia coast and employed a lot of residents down there now,” Silcox said. “I would rather get a smaller percentage of some business than zero percent and zero jobs. Yes, I voted for a tax break, but I think a huge economic boom for the coast of Georgia is needed to be competitive with our contiguous states.”
Silcox said she supports efforts to enact a hate-crimes law in Georgia, such as H.B. 660, introduced by Rep. Meagan Hanson (R-Brookhaven) in January and endorsed by the Anti-Defamation League and the Coalition for a Hate-Free Georgia. That bill never got out of committee, let alone pass the House by the Crossover Day deadline Feb. 28.
Attaching the hate-crimes language to another bill also failed to win passage.
“I certainly would have voted for it and supported it the way it was presented to me,” Silcox said.