Former Cairo mayor continues to teach and campaign during pandemic
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Washington Middle School math teacher Booker Gainor says despite the challenges of running for political office during the middle of a pandemic, his campaign to be the new state legislator representing Grady County is “going quite well.”
The former Mayor of Cairo says his campaign has a positive atmosphere that was recently bolstered by the endorsement of former presidential candidate “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg, and the more recent endorsement of former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.
Gainor, the democratic nominee, is challenging incumbent Rep. Darlene Taylor, a republican from Thomas County, to represent District 173 in the Georgia House of Representatives. The district includes all of Grady County and parts of Thomas and Decatur counties.
Gainor says his political platform focuses on children and family first. He says if elected, his priorities would be to expand Medicaid, fully fund education, and expand rural broadband, all issues that would improve economic development if achieved.
‘Our community needs to be educated, and they need to be healthy if we want to attract industry for jobs,” says Gainor. “And, access to the internet helps students, businesses and the quality of life for everyone.”
Expanding Medicaid, he says, will help boost the economy while also saving lives by making sure more people have access to healthcare.
Gainor says he decided to run for higher office after talking with his sixth grade students.
“My students posed a question to me that made me check myself. They asked, ‘are you going to stop at just being the mayor.’ It became incumbent on me that I had to lead by example. I want to empower youth to do better than I did, have better than I have. I’m holding to that win or lose this election,” Gainor says. “I’m hoping the people of House District 173 see that they have a leader in me who has been leading under pressure from day one, never wavered, never scared to make the hard decisions, never scared of speaking up and speaking out, that’s what we need at the state level.”
Gainor also says he is a bridge builder and a bridge crosser who is able to communicate and connect with people of multiple backgrounds and races.
“My campaign highlights what we have in common,” he says. “All our kids need to be educated, everybody needs healthcare, we all want to make sure we have proper insurance. That’s why I have garnered bipartisan support.”
If Gainor does win the election, he says he will have to resign from his teaching position since the legislative session lasts 40 days. “It would be a burden to have a substitute (teacher) that long and teach the material,” he explains.
If it comes to that, Gainor says he will still find a way to work with students in the district. ‘I want to give them an actual step up so they don’t have to run into the same obstacles I ran into,” he says.
Gainor says campaigning during a pandemic has had its challenges, but he is holding online video calls, communicating via social media and placing information tags on doors.
The candidate says in addition to keeping himself healthy, he is also mindful that he is responsible to his co-workers and students.
Gainor contends that as Mayor of Cairo, he was a “boots on the ground” type of leader and he would continue that philosophy as a legislator. “I just want the people to know, especially, that they’re worth more to me than just a billboard every two years and just a fish fry. We need someone who’s going to lead and represent us at all times,” he says.
Gainor, 31, is a 2007 graduate of Cairo High School and 2012 graduate of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. He is in his second year at W.M.S., where he teaches 8th grade math.
On May 23, he married Alliana Larson Gainor, formerly of Pompano Beach, Fla., who is a student in the physical therapy doctoral program at F.A.M.U., according to her husband.