If you’ve been out and about in Bulloch County or north Bryan County in the last several months, you’ve seen him. Candidate for State Representative James ‘Major’ Woodall has shown an impressive drive to claim the prize for hardest working candidate in House District 160.
The 22-year-old Democrat isn’t your typical “stereotypical liberal.” Born and raised in Riverdale, the Georgia Southern graduate and a member of the US Army Reserves, Woodall says he’s not about partisan politics, but more about representing what the people of the community want. A supporter of the Second Amendment, Woodall touts a moderate platform that includes pro-choice beliefs and opposition to private prisons with a focus on justice reform. He currently works at the Johnson Law Firm in Statesboro.
It’s not his first time running for office, either. Woodall sought the position of State President of the College Division of the Georgia NAACP. That may have been where he acquired his calm demeanor, eloquent delivery of his message, and his level-headed approach to politics.
“The fun part of campaigning is just meeting people and listening to them,” he says of the campaign trail.
Woodall says part of the driving force behind his campaign is the complacency of elected officials and the lack of accountability that everyone is able to see. Personally, he’s a believer in the need for education reform, more focus on economic conditions, and what he refers to as environmental justice.
He’s against Common Core and Opportunity School Districts and sees a need for pay raises for educators. Additionally, he wants a STEM program in every school in the state.
Agriculture, healthcare and education are the employment steam engines of House District of 160, Woodall says. He claims he’d like to see more free market approaches to insurance access but still sees the need to expand Medicaid. An issue of concern for him in the business sector is the practice of predatory lending and the hurdles for small business loans.
A proponent of the green market, Woodall sees the long-term value in investments in sustainable energy and green infrastructure. He’s proud of the approaches Georgia Southern has taken with initiatives like this.
He’s launched a strong social media campaign, a large grassroots initiative, and a powerhouse ground game – not to mention yard signs galore. Whether he’s attending press conferences and city council meetings or working parades and crowds, Woodall has shown he’s ready to work in – and with – the community. He even went as far as to step out on the recent Industrial Park issue in the south end of the county, an initiative that was contentious and divisive. At this stage of the game, it would be tough to miss Woodall or a member of his team out in the community promoting his message on any given day.
And he’s no stranger to controversy. Woodall started taking stands in the Bulloch County community long before he launched his campaign for state house. The Confederate statute debate in Bulloch County was a hot bed for controversy not too long ago, one many attribute to Woodall because he helped start an online petition. But he says he wasn’t responsible for the movement as a whole. His comments about it, still, are raw and honest:
“I never grew up being this activist, or knowing you’re black or this hyper-racial type of person. I’ve never been that. A lot of people might assert that I am because of the Confederate statute issue here, but that entire experience was more so about who was willing to stand up for what they believe in. That’s what it meant to me.”
He says he learned a lot about how people operate during a process like that as well as the nature of the political process. “I allowed that moment to use me to grow.”
Major has been honest about his political beliefs and vocal in his opposition to the proposed Constitutional Amendments on the ballot as well. The Judicial Qualifications Commission, the Safe Harbor Act, Opportunity School Districts, and the fireworks excise tax initiative are all NO’s for him – once again illustrating his diverse and individualized platform. He’s called for a debate against his Republican opponent, but to date, nothing has been scheduled.
As for what’s ahead for the remainder of the campaign? Woodall says, “The beauty isn’t in the end result. It’s in the process.”
Woodall faces incumbent Jan Tankersley in the general election on November 8th. Tankersley was elected as a Republican in 2010.