Rhonda Peek is confident her hands-on political experience puts her head and shoulders above the other Democratic candidates for State Representative – House District 94.
She said even some local Republican politicians encouraged her to run when incumbent Rep. Randal Mangham announced his candidacy for governor.
For years Peek, 44, worked as Mangham’s legislative aid. She said the day before the filing deadline she was one of the first he called to share his plans. He then recommended she seek his seat.
At the time, she planned to work on a governor’s campaign. Yet, she loves public service, so she filed hoping to build a legacy from her experiences with Mangham.
"I was in the community doing the work but just didn’t have the title," she said. "I know how much time and long days are put in."
Peek is self-employed and has worked on national campaigns, is the DeKalb County Democratic Party’s organizational chair and worked 15 years for the state in DeKalb. She studied business at Georgia State University.
A 15-year Lithonia homeowner, Peek ran for mayor there in 2008. She lost by one vote. A setback that would have left others crestfallen made Peek more determined to improve her community.
She thinks little was accomplished during Georgia’s last legislative session to address education and foreclosures.
"It we don’t pay now, we’ll pay later when kids go down the wrong avenue," Peek said.
Based on constituents’ stories about foreclosures, Peek would propose legislation making banks maintain their vacant properties and be more responsive to owners’ calls. "We have to keep owners in their homes because that’s our tax base," she said.
Peek wants to develop re-training programs so unemployed residents can find jobs in new industries and help small business owners do more business globally.
"And we can’t give tax incentives to everyone," she added. "There has to be a cut-off period once your business has prospered."
Homelessness is another issue Peek worries is impacting District 94.