As Legislative Chairman for the Georgia Retired Educators Association, Carlos Lankford knows how to handle legislators.
"If they're not doing what you like, I suggest you love them, pray for them, and get somebody to run against them," Mr. Lankford said.
He was speaking to approximately 30 members of The Tri-County Retired Educators Association during their meeting last Thursday morning at White Columns Inn. Mr. Lankford is a retired educator of 32 years, first as a math teacher, then as an administrator in Coffee, Emanuel, Toombs and Long counties. This experience has also influenced another opinion he has about legislators.
"Why can't we influence them and talk to them? It's our obligation. ...Not only that, somebody taught every one of those jokers in Atlanta, and they need to remember that," the Legislative Chairman said.
Mr. Lankford admitted influencing all decision makers would be easier if more retirees would join the membership. Currently, Mr. Lankford said there are 60,000 retired educators in Georgia, and only 15,000 who are members of the association. Anne Poss, the membership chairman for the local association, said the Tri-County group has approximately 160 members.
In regards to recent health insurance issues, Mr. Lankford said the state membership number should be higher.
"United Health Care would turn and run if they knew they were dealing with a 60,000-strong GREA," he said.
According to Mr. Lankford, two legislative goals the REA is focusing on this year are to maintain their new $25,000 income tax deduction provided by the governor last year, and to avoid the Venture Capital project that was passed last year in the Senate, but was tabled by the House.
The Venture Capital project, which Mr. Lankford said will be brought up again, seeks to invest $8.7 billion of public retirement funds, such as that of teachers, in real estate ventures that may not show a return for at least 20 years.
"So if it weren't for GREA, present teachers would have lost some retirement funds in the legislation. Now isn't that a reason to pay $2 a month and join (GREA)?" REA member Jan McTier said during a previous meeting.
Like an old-fashioned evangelist, Mr. Lankford encouraged the members to encourage one another and speak to their representatives.
"As a teacher, how many people did we influence? Probably thousands in this room," he said. "People, don't sit down and die on me. Continue your influence. God has plans for this organization"
The business portion of the meeting was conducted by the Tri-County Association President, Clara Roberts. Afterwards, the group enjoyed lunch at White Columns Restaurant. For more information concerning membership with the local association, contact Anne Poss at 706-595-2613.