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Governor Deal (front and center) meets with community and political leaders from around the world on Jan. 14 at the Georgia Capitol. Polly McKinney, Voices' advocacy director, is to his right.

Although activity at the state Capitol was slowed down this week by snow and ice, by people trying to find new offices and learn new systems, Georgia government, nevertheless, moved forward. A Governor was inaugurated, Senators and Representatives were sworn in, and the new Administration’s plan for fiscal management was delivered. The Senate and House have made committee assignments and dropped a few bills, but overall, it was an especially slow week legislatively. That said, it was a wonderful week in terms of being reminded of the deepest meaning of what Voices is about: advocating on behalf of children.

This morning, a state Senator and I, met with a group of political and business leaders from around the world. As the group arrived at the South Entrance of the Capitol, it occurred to me what a treat it would be for them to have a photo taken with the Governor. Even though it seemed unlikely that Governor Deal would be available on such short notice, we checked with his office, and surprisingly, he was in and happy to come out to meet the guests. After the photo, the Governor asked if he might address the group and take a few questions. As you might guess, I said of course and please!

He spoke of foreign students his family had hosted, and took questions ranging in subject from snow to changing political parties. It was watching Governor Deal, so close, so candid and so kind, that it occurred to me that the most important thing to note this week was the fact that we are living and raising our children in an “Advocacy Friendly” country. As disheartened as we can all get by angry rhetoric, partisan politics, and last week’s tragedy in Tuscon, it is important to remember that few other countries have such amazing access to their government. To be able to call your lawmaker on the phone at the office or at home, to be able to stand in the halls of a capitol or even a grocery parking lot and respectfully present your point of view to an elected official without fear of reprisal is a gift and, because of how our country has grown, a right. That mutual trust, that peaceful transition of power, and that welcomed self-confidence is what allows each of us to be a voice for Georgia’s children. It is what allows us each to raise our children to become voices for the children of the future.

Polly

Polly McKinney
Advocacy Director
Voices for Georgia’s Children

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