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State House candidate pushes for better education
by Caroline Young
July 18, 2012 10:15 AM | 2012 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Editor’s note: Three Democrats — Jason Esteves, Shelia Jones and Robert Patillo — are running for the newly redrawn District 53 State House of Representatives seat vacated by incumbent Elly Dobbs in the July 31 primary election. The district, which was merged with District 44, where Jones was the incumbent, includes Vinings and part of Atlanta, including part of Buckhead. A candidate profile article on Patillo was published March 14.

Jason Esteves, 28, says his youth benefits him in terms of having high energy and a fresh perspective.

Born in Puerto Rico, Esteves and his family moved to Columbus when he was 2. He attended the University of Miami to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2005 and taught for two years in Houston for Teach for America.

Then, Esteves said he made his way back home and is here to stay.

“Georgia was always the final destination for me,” he said.

He attended Emory Law School, where he was president of the Student Bar Association and other student groups.

At Emory, Esteves met his fiancé, Ariel Morris of Albany, who he is set to marry in September.

Though this is his first official run at public office, Esteves said his work experience is “unique in terms of legal experience and teaching experience.”

“When you combine those, I think they benefit me to use those [skills] as a legislator.”

If elected, Esteves said his main focus would be on education because he considers it to be “the most important issue the state has at this point.”

“Our public school system is broken at every level,” he said.

Esteves said the combination of his experience in working with low-income students and his law background is ideal for a state representative.

“I think a legislator who had to fight through the bureaucracy to help his children succeed and obtain achievement is best prepared for tackling the most important issue,” he said. “And lawyers have a very good grasp for the lawmaking process, and the key issue is that our laws are not written very well and don’t make sense. That makes it harder for citizens to follow and harder for the legal system to enforce it.”

While he supports the T-SPLOST “wholeheartedly,” Esteves is disappointed in the state Legislature for putting “the vote on the backs of residents instead of making the decision itself to fund it to ‘untie Atlanta.’”

“That’s what we elect people to do,” he said. “Unfortunately, we don’t have legislators that have the political will to make tough decisions that would make their friends very mad but work for 90 percent of the state.”

Esteves said putting T-SPLOST on the ballot is a risky vote and “puts our futures at risk,” primarily because corporations and businesses will lose incentive to come to or stay in Georgia.

“We’re the only state in the Union that doesn’t help fund key transportation systems.”

Additionally, if elected, Esteves said he wants to create more restaurants, grocery stores and more businesses in District 53, which he describes as “diverse.”

“It has some of the richest folks in Atlanta, along with the poorest folks of Atlanta,” he said. “We have a ton of abandoned industrial places and land. I will work to make sure our district gets resources to turn around and thrive.”

According to the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission (formerly the State Ethics Commission), Esteves had $62,114.06 in contributions and $43,843.97 net cash on hand through June 30.

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