RINCON — Joyce Griggs is a former Army officer who isn’t always in lockstep with her party.
A Savannah Democrat, Griggs is seeking the First Congressional District seat currently held by Republican Buddy Carter.
“We cannot just go with the party line,” Griggs said. “We need to make sure we work for the benefit of the people and that is not what has been happening — even in this district. It’s always party line — and that hurts all of us, all Americans.
“We are in this thing together.”
Griggs is confident of her chances to win even though Carter is a three-term incumbent.
“I believe we can flip this district blue. I believe we are going to flip it,” she said. “We are either going to be united and make it work or we are going to be divided and watch it fall.”
Griggs believes Democrats and Republicans can find common ground in protecting Social Security benefits and funding education.
“I think we could work together on criminal justice reform, too,” Griggs said. “This is America. We have more people in prison than Communist countries and that should not be.
“We need to work together to get rid of these for-profit prisons.”
Griggs said the order of issues that concern voters has changed considerably since she started her campaign. COVID-19 has rocketed to the top, she said.
“That’s the number one thing on people’s minds right now,” Griggs said. “We all know it is very serious.”
As of Monday, Georgia had reported 331,409 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 7,416 related deaths.
“Unfortunately, it has turned everyone’s world upside down,” Griggs said. “More than two hundred thousand people and counting are dead, and, of course, (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) Dr. (Anthony) Fauci indicated it may be four hundred thousand (deaths) before the winter is over. I am very concerned about that and believe we need to follow the science.
“If science says we are in danger, we need to follow the science and abide by what they are saying, and we should not have profit over people. You can make money again but you can’t get that person’s life back again.
“Unfortunately, the way things were handled were wrong. I would give them an F at the top in the Trump administration. Don’t lie to the people and don’t withhold things from them.”
Griggs said President Trump could have saved lives by being more pro-active against the disease. She opposed his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the World Health Organization.
“We need to make sure that we interact with other nations and exchange information to combat this global pandemic, not national pandemic,” she said. “That way it has been handled has been absolutely horrible.”
Griggs thinks there should be a national mandate to wear masks to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“Just like Mayor (Van) Johnson in Savannah (who issued a citywide mandate), people were upset but we have done very well,” Griggs said. “I believe, if he had if he had not done what he did, we would have had a lot more deaths. I have no problems with masks when it comes to dealing with something like this.
“We need the masks.”
Griggs is a staunch advocate for the Affordable Care Act.
“I think we need to expand it, especially now during this COVID-19 pandemic era,” she said. “We need to make sure that preexisting conditions are covered and we need to fight to reduce prescription costs. We import drugs from and — did you know — a lot of them are tainted?”
Griggs view of heath insurance differs from some top Democrats.
“I am for affordable health care for all people,” she said. “I am not saying universal health care, but affordable care. The Affordable Care Act was not perfect but we should continue to work on it.”
Griggs expressed outrage at Trump’s reported “suckers and losers” remark about U.S. military personnel. She is a retired Army lieutenant colonel who served in Iraq.
She said, “It bothers me when you have someone — well, he was wealthy — who avoided going into the military. The nerve of him to refer to servicemen like that! No regard for what we do! No regard for service members! It is not an easy job!
“Yes, I know that we volunteer for it but it is not an easy job!”
Griggs, a former attorney, spent part of her military stint as an intelligence officer. She was in the Army for 33 years.
“(Trump) doesn’t understand what a soldier has to go through — and their families,” Griggs said.
Griggs said President Trump is also wrong to call climate change “a hoax.”
“Climate change is real,” she said. “We don’t have to look very far to see that it is real. The ocean levels are rising and it has an impact on so many things.
“It’s just like with COVID-19. We need to listen to the scientists. Let’s listen to the experts.
“The Arctic is melting. The rainforest is on fire. There flooding everywhere. Hurricane season. My God! We are lucky that Savannah hasn’t had a New Orleans experience.”
Griggs vowed to fight to strengthen the Environmental Protection Agency.
“It was gutted during the present administration and we need it,” she said. “It’s absolutely crazy.”
Griggs veers from the beliefs of many national Democrats when it comes to energy policy. She is opposed to the elimination of fossil fuels.
“I believe in a balance,” she said. “Let’s look at the pros and the cons.”
Griggs said changes in energy policy should be gradual so as not to create economic upheaval. She supports transitioning to electric vehicles but not all at once.
“I don’t believe in that Green New Deal totally,” she said. “We need to take our time on things and analyze it. What are the ramifications on jobs, the environment and everything else.”