Here at NDTC, we feel very fortunate to have the chance to work with so many amazing candidates. Each month, we highlight one of these candidates to share the incredible work that they are doing. This month, we are highlighting Shelly Hutchinson, who is running for State Representative in Georgia’s 107th district.
This year, Democrats just like Shelly are stepping up in every state and running for office. Shelly wasn’t content with just sitting around and hoping things improved –- she decided that if she wanted there to be a change in her community, she needed to do something.
And so she ran for office.
Since declaring her candidacy, Shelly has ran a strong campaign. She convincingly won her primary and has continued to campaign hard as she works towards the general election. In mid-August, Shelly earned the endorsement of Former President Barack Obama.
Join us as we take a closer look at one of the many incredible candidates running in Georgia.
What inspired or compelled you to run for office?
Politically, after the 2016 election, I was deeply saddened and had to do some soul-searching. I was researching the best way for me to make a positive impact. I found that my House Rep had run unopposed for 14 years.
Even in November 2016, when my district voted overwhelmingly for Hillary, the incumbent was unopposed. His voting history is disturbing, and in my opinion, unethical. I felt called to run for this particular seat.
If elected, what change do you hope to make in your community?
- Expanding Medicaid — This would give Georgia a tremendous boost by allowing the Affordable Care Act to stimulate competitive pricing between insurance companies. This would reduce what Georgia’s families pay for healthcare, making it affordable for working families in the future.
- Transit — Georgia is a prime location for businesses who want to relocate. Our substandard transit system is a determining factor for relocation. We lose money when businesses pass Georgia over to relocate in other states. Businesses want to relocate to areas where employees can get to work efficiently. An effective transit system will bring more business and revenue.
- Equity — I am heartbroken by the some of the hurtful and discriminatory legislation that is presented for consideration at the capitol. Legislation such as the English Only bill and the bill that discriminates against LBGTQ families who want to adopt sends the wrong message to our children. If we model discrimination, discrimination will always be our legacy.
- Gerrymandering — Reversing gerrymandering after the 2020 election.
Tell us about yourself. What has your professional life looked like?
I graduated with a Masters degree in Social Work (MSW) from the University of Georgia School of Social Work, with a focus on Family Centered Practice. Currently, I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (2005) dedicated to social work education as well as providing and improving service delivery to families and individuals in crisis.
I am the Founder and Director of the Social Empowerment Center (SEC, est. 2002). SEC is a accredited, award-winning mental health center in Lawrenceville, GA. Prior to founding SEC, I spent many years working in social services in a wide variety of capacities for the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) in Metro Atlanta, Georgia.
How have you been involved in your community before deciding to run for office?
Our community, along with many others around the country, has a problem with children, particularly teenagers, accessing and finding the social and mental health services they need. For the past six years, I have been the chair of the Local Interagency Planning Team (LIPT).
The LIPT is comprised of leaders of mental health and social services agencies, the Department of Education and the Department Juvenile Justice. The LIPT meets monthly to brainstorm about the neediest children in the county.
How have the NDTC trainings helped you to prepare for your election?
The NDTC trainings gave me many of the starting skills and information to kickstart my campaign. Processes, written and unwritten rules that I was completely unaware of.
It helped me to get into the mind frame of running and growing a political campaign. It’s a world I had not been familiar with so every aspect of the training was enlightening.
If you could recommend one NDTC course to a candidate, which would it be?
NDTC’s New Candidate Cohort.
For the first two months of 2018, NDTC ran a pilot program where we brought together two groups (or cohorts, as we called them) of about 20 local and state legislative candidates, including Shelly.
Each group worked through NDTC’s online, on-demand courses on a specified schedule. Then they met for weekly webinars to delve deeper into certain topics, practice skills with one another, and ask questions of campaign experts.
What is a highlight from your campaign, to date?
Most definitely….the endorsement of President Obama.
What’s a piece of advice you’ve picked up while running for office that you’d like to share with other candidates?
Focus on getting over call time/asking people for money. That’s been my most difficult challenge, that I am still working on. I think women, particularly have a harder time asking for help, in general. For me, asking for help, and for money in particular, has been the biggest hurdle.