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State Senate District 44 Parent vs. Thomas–May 21 Primary

By Paul Bolster

Recent Republican-led redistricting moved the boundaries of the 44th Senate District held by Senator Elena Parent deep into Clayton County. It stretches along Briarcliff Road/Moreland Avenue from Lavista Road in the north to where I-75 meets I-675 merge in the south. It pushes current Senator Gail Davenport out of East Atlanta and into another newly created district. The 44th District voting population will now be 70% African American. 

Voters will be choosing between Senator Elena Parent, who has served the district since 2015, and former Senator Nadine Thomas (1992-2005), the first black female state Senator. 

Thomas regrets that Republican Reapportionment targeted Parent. She “hates the reapportionment process because someone always gets hurt.” The change in District 44 “opened the opportunity for other people to be at the table,” she says and she pledges to bring “the experience of what people have gone through” to the table with “hard work and always being accessible.” 

While part of East Atlanta was in Parent’s old district, she now has it all and said, “I am enjoying reconnecting to former constituents in this vibrant and exciting neighborhood that’s become a fantastic place to live.” Thomas said she hears from people in the neighborhood that affordable housing is an issue and pledged to work toward a solution. 

Both expressed concerns for the safety of Moreland Avenue and plan to partner with the community to find solutions. Thomas said “the road is too narrow,” and it frightens her to drive on it. Parent said she has worked for years to improve the transportation infrastructure including bicycles. Since this district borders all of Moreland between DeKalb County and Fulton, the winner could be a strong partner for the South Moreland Avenue Working Group.

Their websites both reflect a commitment to core democratic policy positions. Thomas states she is for: women and reproductive rights; affordable healthcare for all; seniors and veterans; and voting rights. Parent highlights: building the economy for working families; expanded education opportunities for all; investments in transportation; and a government that works for all Georgians not just the wealthy few. Parent’s statements also detailed a strong commitment on gun safety and the environment and pledged her “strong voice for progressive values.”

 Parent described her views this way: “I believe that government plays a critical role in our lives. Through functions like education, public safety, and infrastructure, to name a few, government sets the stage for the success of its citizens and the private sector.”

There is not a similar statement on Thomas’ website or we would print it here. Please take a look at their sites: www.nadineforgeorgia.comand

This race was hot at the start. Dan Whisenhunt, in online news from, posted on March 25 a story of the conflict that arose at the very start of the campaign. An ally of Parent challenged Thomas’ right to run because she owed $38,000 in back state and federal taxes. Also, Thomas accused Parent and State Senator Nan Orrock of “accosting” her when she showed up to qualify for the race. She claimed in a press release the two white Senators “bullied” her.  This incident was amplified by Trump supporter and former legislator Vernon Jones. Parent says it never happened. 

Thomas made it clear to The Porch Press she has always been a loyal supporter of the Democrat party. Thomas says Vernon Jones has nothing to do with her campaign and she has not talked to him much in recent years. She defends his right to split from the Democrat party. She is not close to the current state Democrat party leadership and complained “they don’t answer the phone.” She is very pleased with the responsiveness of Senator Ossoff’s office where she has gone to get things done for people. She plans to work hard to elect President Biden and “can’t stand Trump or Marjorie Taylor Green and what they stand for.” She contributed to the effort to defeat DeSantis in the Florida governor’s race. “I have always been a loyal Democrat.”

Thomas said she has settled her tax issue. She still owes $27,000 but is on a payment plan and expects it to be paid off in 45 days. The obligation grew when she was focused on the helath care needs of her family—he mother is 94 and needs a caregiver and her daughter is in treatment for cancer. She is the oldest of five daughters and takes family responsibility seriously. She’s a registered nurse who is still employed in her profession. When she was in the Senate she chaired the Appropriation Sub-committee on Health. Her family’s healthcare struggles, her profession, and her past policy engagements all mean she will work for Medicaid expansion.

As chair of the Senate Democratic Senate Caucus, Parent is currently at the center of the Democrat policy agenda. She has been in the Senate for the past 10 years and feels she knows today’s issues and strategies better than former Senator Thomas “who served nearly 20 years ago.” She sees signs of progress when an Atlanta suburban Republican puts in a bill to give tax credit to help families pay for gun security devices. “The bill got out of committee but didn’t get to the floor for a vote,” she said. “It is a sign that we can get some policy changes with Republican allies but it’s frustrating when none of the 17 gun safety bills introduced by Democrats even got a committee vote. Parent is “immersed in the current issues,” she said.

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