Kelly Rose

McDONOUGH — When Henry County resident Kelly Rose decided to seek election to the District 17 seat in the Georgia Senate, she knew she had a mostly-uphill race to run.

Rose, who works in the television production industry and with her husband Steve Alderfer owns and operates Studio 48, an acting studio on McDonough’s downtown Square, will oppose incumbent State Sen. Brian Strickland in the Nov. 3 General Election.

Strickland, a Republican who won a special election in 2018 to represent the district (which includes portions of Henry, Newton and Rockdale counties), also serves as a floor leader for Gov. Brian Kemp and has been in the Legislature since 2012. Given that this is Rose’s first official political foray, she was well aware of what she was getting into when she qualified.

“Yes, I am an underdog,” said Rose, a Democrat. “I’m running against somebody with a lot of manpower behind him. He’s got a lot of money and a lot of power and is well connected to the governor. He’s been in the Legislature for a long time.

“And I first, I just thought, ‘I’m just going to make him work for (re-election).’ But the closer we get to the election, the less I’m feeling like an underdog and the more I’m feeling like a strong grassroots candidate. I have felt a shift.”

The Los Angeles native, who moved to Henry County four years ago, said the June primary – in which she and Strickland both ran unopposed – helped build her confidence in many ways. In the Democratic Primary, Rose drew nearly 24,000 votes while Strickland earned some 20,600 votes in the Republican Primary.

“That got me more attention,” Rose said. “Underdog? Yes, but at the same time I’m gaining momentum and believing that this could really happen.”

Rose said that part of the reason she decided to run for office was her dissatisfaction with Strickland regarding not only his vote, but also his comments on Georgia’s controversial six-week abortion ban law, which was later struck down by a U.S. District judge in Atlanta.

“I met with him and I said ‘If you do this, you’re going to start something,’” said Rose, who has two children, Sofia, 10, and Ethan, 7. “And when he said he was going to vote in favor of it, I wasn’t aware of the speech he was going to give. And I felt that speech was so condescending that I stood up, and within a week and a half I declared to run because I knew the future of my family was at stake.”

She said that she also wanted to run in order to be more involved in decisions that affect the communities served in the district.

“Because my message is inclusivity, transparency and access to government, I’ve gotten a wonderful response,” she said. “…For me, I try to be as open to talking to as many people as possible and letting them know we have a lot more in common. When people are willing to listen, they’ll realize I’m not this extremist that some people would like to make me out to be.

“I care about conserving our greenspace here. That’s a big deal to me. I really care about the people and want to make sure the people have access to meet their needs. Now I have an opportunity to get engaged and guide as I see things coming.”

Rose said that she merits the electorate’s attention because she’s no different from her potential constituents.

“I’m just like you – I’m a mom, a business owner, and I care about the people in the community. I want to fight for the public education system and I believe when health care is accessed by all the community benefits, including small-business owners.

“And I will listen to you and I will fight for you. It doesn’t matter what letter is next to my name; what matters is what’s best for the community, and it is the community that will get me there and it is the community I will represent.”

For more information, visit www.votekellyrose.com.

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