Richmond Hill resident Marcus Thompson is running as a Democrat for the Georgia House District 164 seat that has been held since 1997 by state Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Garden City.
It’s Thompson’s first bid for public office, and he got to the Nov. 3 general election by easily outpolling former Chatham County commissioner Jeff Rayno in the primary earlier this year.
Here’s a look at the political newcomer, who recently reached out to the BCN: This Q& A has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Q: First, who is Marcus Thompson?
“I am human by blessing, American by birthright, but Georgian by choice. My family and I live, work and play in Georgia. I love this area, Richmond Hill, Savannah, Pooler, Bloomingdale and Hinesville. I have an anchor in each location. I live in Richmond Hill. I work in Savannah. My territory is in Pooler. I play softball in Bloomingdale. My fraternity is in Hinesville. This is the 164th. This is my district. I am 43 and live with my wife and daughter in the beautiful city of Richmond Hill.
I graduated from North Carolina State University in 2001 and lived in North Carolina, Kentucky and Georgia, our forever home. I attend Hope City Church, formerly Impact Church of Savannah located at 5975 Ogeechee Rd.”
Thompson, a member of Alpha Phil Alpha Fraternity, Inc., is among other things a graduate of Leadership Savannah’s Class of 19-20, Bryan County director of the Coastal Georgia Minority Chamber, leads the children’s ministry at his church and is on the ambassador council on the Pooler Chamber, where he’s also a member of the Kiwanis. In addition, he is a member of the NAACP and the A.Philip Randolph Institute, and that’s not all. While COVID-19 has limited some of his volunteer work, Thompson said he still says busy.
Q: Why are you running?
A: “I am running for the Georgia House because we need someone who represents us. All of us, in Bryan County, in Chatham County and across the state. Georgia has long been lauded as being the No. 1 state for business. We need someone who will work to make Georgia No. 1 for quality health care, and No. 1 for education, and No. 1 for quality jobs with great pay. We also need someone who will protect the wonderful place that we call home here on the coast of Georgia. As representative, I will commit to constituents that I will work to actually govern, to get things done without the special interests and political partisanship that has become far too common. We need to balance the scales, so our state government is working for all Georgians.”
Q: Similarly, what are the three biggest issues you see facing residents, and how you will address them?
A: “District 164 is unique in that it comprises parts of three counties and parts of five cities.
This is a result of massive gerrymandering, which I plan to rewrite to be fairer to the voters. But as a result there are at least three separate concerns for residents in each of the counties.
:In Bryan County, the concerns are keeping taxes low, poor drainage, growth issues, roadway and traffic problems, and education.
In Liberty County, the concerns are education, small business survival, policing, healthcare and attracting education. Chatham County breaks down into three cities, Savannah, Pooler and Bloomingdale, and the issues facing them are different. In Savannah, the main concerns are poverty, affordable housing, casinos, crime, homelessness, healthcare, drainage issues and recovering the film industry since the inception of COVID-19 and its effects on the city. Pooler’s issues include massive and rapid growth, COVID-19, new construction concerns, lack of tree protections, drainage and access to voting. Bloomingdale has concerns about Ottawa Farms, education and relationship to Pooler business development. “I plan to address all of these concerns just like I plan to represent this district, by forming relationships and communication. I have already formed relationships with members of every city’s council and attend each city council meetings and/or working meetings, as time permits. Every week of my first term, I will hold a zoom meeting where the district citizens are invited. I firmly believe that it is impossible to represent anyone you don’t know. This will be a chance for the district to interact directly with their state representative.
I have started forming a task force for each city so that we will have a particular focus on that city and its needs.”
Q: You likely face an uphill battle against a longtime incumbent. What has to happen for you to win the election?
A: “People have to see me, learn about me, hear about me. I’m not trying to unseat my opponent because of what I want for myself, but for the people of this district. He has been in office for 23 years, and not many people even know who he is except for the signs they see during election years. I don’t own a line of pharmacies, like my opponent that can benefit from my being elected. I hope to convey the truth: I work a 9 to 5, I work hard every day, I love my family and friends and I, too, worry about the future.
My goal as your representative will be to be seen and for you to know recognize me in Kroger.
My goal is to have an open forum so that everyone has the opportunity to place their fingerprint on the future of this district.
I want everyone to know that I want the best for each person that lives in this district, and that I will be working under the same laws that I write and review as a state representative.”