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Georgia House Rep. Derek Mallow (D-Savannah) announced on Monday an election run for one of Chatham County’s three Senate seats.
Mallow was elected to his first public office post in 2020, winning the seat long held by Rep. J. Craig Gordon, who chose not to run for re-election. Mallow defeated fellow Democrat Anne Westbrook in a primary runoff by 19 votes. After capturing the primary, Mallow won the post unopposed in November.
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Mallow will seek to fill the void left by longtime Sen. Lester Jackson, who has said he will not pursue the position again this year and run instead for state labor commissioner. Election qualifying, at which point candidates formally commit to run for specific offices, starts March 7.
At a campaign announcement event in Forsyth Park on Monday, Mallow's Senate platform didn't stray much from his current priorities as a House representative.
He wants full funding for Quality Basic Education, the formula that determines how much funding each public school in Georgia gets from the state. He wants to further expand Medicaid, a consistent item on the wis hlist of state Democrats. He wants criminal justice reform, ending life-without-parole sentences for juvenile offenders.
Additionally, Mallow says he's looking to address the need for affordable housing.
"We as a state boast of having $3 billion in surplus, yet we still don't have some of the basic needs that Georgians are asking for. I want to fight and advocate for those issues," he said.
Mallow's announcement comes a week into the 2022 Georgia legislative session. He currently serves on the House of Representatives Economic Development & Tourism Committee, Retirement Committee and the State Planning & Community Affairs Committee.
Mallow noted he would be relying heavily on his campaign team during the session, noting he still has a job to do at the Georgia Capitol.
"Without them, I wouldn't be able to pull this off," Mallow said.
The Senate district he intends to run for covers much of the middle part of Chatham County, stretching from the Savannah River to the southside and Coffee Bluff. To the west, District 2 stretches to cover the Savannah Highlands and is bordered to the east by the Wilmington River.
According to the 2020 U.S. Census, the district’s 189,492 residents are 48.3% Black, 37.8% white, 3.4% Asian and .4% Native American, with 8.2% of the population being of Hispanic origin.
Mallow's run coincides with redistricting changes that shake the balance of Chatham County politics. Chatham, a Democratic island in a sea of reliably Republican counties, was represented for years by an even split of senators: one Democrat, one Republican.
But now, in addition to District 1, currently represented by Republican Sen. Ben Watson, and District 2, the post for which Mallow is running, District 4 will see its boundaries creep across the Effingham County line and into Bloomingdale and Pooler.
Currently, that seat is held by Sen. Billy Hickman, a Republican from Statesboro.
Mallow said after a couple of years of building relationships in the statehouse, he's ready to take on the challenges of being a senator.
"Hopefully my record in the House speaks for itself, my commitment to the citizens of House District 163," Mallow said. "I want to express my gratitude to them for trusting me to be their representative, and I'm asking them to trust me as I seek to become their next Senator as well."
Will Peebles is the enterprise reporter for Savannah Morning News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and @willpeeblessmn on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Georgia House Rep. Derek Mallow is running for Senate