As a first-time legislator, Deborah Gonzalez has had to overcome the learning curves of being a state representative.
There are a lot of things that go on behind the scenes of government that citizens may not realize, Gonzalez said.
“Sometimes people say you don’t want to see how the sausage is made because then you won’t eat the sausage,” said Gonzalez as she described learning about how government works.
She’s learned the process of fighting for or against bills, which sometimes are “almost a done deal” by the time it gets to the chamber to vote.
She has “slowly” transitioned into her role as a legislator after being a media attorney.
“Challenges [have included] learning the unwritten rules,” Gonzalez said. “Nobody tells you those. Nobody tells you who really wields power in the chamber, and you sort of have to learn it on your own.”
One “unwritten rule” is that legislators plan the color they wear depending on which group is visiting the Capitol that day. For example, when the Girl Scouts visit, legislators wear green;, for the Lupus Foundation of America, purple; for the dental association, blue.
“In a way, it tells you who’s in the know, those who wear the colors and those who don’t,” Gonzalez said.
Wearing a color for a certain group shows that group that you are in support of them and their cause.
Nobody tells you who really wields power in the chamber, and you sort of have to learn it on your own.”
-Deborah Gonzalez, State of Georgia District 117 representative
Gonzalez lives in Athens and has commuted to her Atlanta office while being a legislator.
“I wanted to remain grounded in my district,” Gonzalez said.
She remained in Athens because she wanted to still attend events in her district and have a connection with her community.
She highlights local artists in her Atlanta office by presenting their artwork.
“It was a way of keeping my district with me at all times,” Gonzalez said. “[It] reminded me that I’m here for them ... I’m here to do the work for the people that I represent.”
She is running as the only Democratic candidate in the Georgia District 117 House Representative race again. The primary will be May 22.