At age 23, Woodstock resident Michael Caldwell is the youngest state legislator elected to the Georgia General Assembly, which will convene on Jan. 14 for its 2013 session.
But that doesn't phase the representative-elect from the House District 20 seat, which covers most of Woodstock and Towne Lake. Caldwell is ready to serve the residents who elected him to the seat, but noted he's "humbled" by the support he's garnered in his new capacity.
Caldwell defeated State Rep. Charlice Byrd (R-Woodstock) during the July Republican primary. It was his second time in as many years challenging Byrd in the Republican primary for the seat. He later defeated Democratic challenger Lillian Burnaman in the Nov. 6 general election.
Caldwell, regional sales manager for Python Safety, graduated from Etowah High School in 2007 and earned a bachelor's degree in finance from Kennesaw State University in 2010. He is married to wife Katie and they attend Hillside United Methodist Church.
Caldwell discussed with Patch his plans in the coming two years:
1. Now that the dust has settled, how do you feel about starting this new position?
Election dust has settled, but legislative dust is just starting to kick up. We have had legislative orientation and Biennial in the last month and we’re just a few weeks away from the start of the session. Overall, I still find myself waking up each day humbled that 54,000 of my neighbors chose me to represent them in our General Assembly.
2. What are some of your major goals you'd like to achieve? Are there any issues you want to specifically bring up?
The General Assembly is going to be facing a bleak budget year, but there is still much we can do to make for a more accountable, honest state government. One of my campaign promises was to introduce a bill promoting legislative term limits for Georgia, and I will be fulfilling that promise shortly.
3. What challenges do you think you face as an elected official?
As a working-citizen legislator, I believe one of my most difficult challenges will simply be balancing my work, personal, and legislative responsibilities. The General Assembly is intended to be a citizen legislature populated with average people and with average people come busy schedules. Finding the balance won’t be simple, but I’m confident we’ll get there quickly.
4. What are you looking forward to the most?
I’m looking forward to providing a new perspective to our state house. As the youngest elected member of Georgia’s General Assembly, having run a campaign via techniques that had never been tried before (no lobbyist dollars, 100% daily transparency in campaign finances, etc.) I believe we bring a unique point of view to our representative body.
5. What do you think are some challenges facing Cherokee County and what can you offer to help navigate those challenges?
Cherokee County faces a myriad of specific issues ranging from education to economic development. One of our starkest challenges will be bringing a stop to the “win or lose” mentality that has been so stark in general issues in our county as of late. As we approach issues, we have to be mindful to listen to both sides, be respectful of the merits in each argument, and find a working solution rather than another talking point.
6. Are there any smaller, less pressing issues you want to address?
I’m hesitant to describe any issue as smaller or less pressing as there is always someone who believes an issue to be the most important issue facing Georgia. Please don’t ever hesitate to bring any concern to me, no matter how “small” it may seem. I’ll be honored to do all I can to help.
7. What do you hope to take away from this experience?
I hope that I’m able to put in more than I take away. I’d ask for constituents’ prayers that this experience continue to humble me as it has so far, and that I’m able to represent them with wisdom and an honest heart.
8. What do you want voters to know about you?
I won’t be perfect. I’ll do everything in my power to be as readily available, transparent and accountable as humanly possible, and if you ever feel I haven’t adequately considered all sides of an issue or could be doing anything better than I am, I hope you’ll reach out to me. This is a representative body filled with everyday people. I will be leaving my job and my home during the beginning of the year to represent our community to our state government in hopes that we can improve it for all of us, and I look forward to having your help in doing just that.