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Critical decisions for now and November

Curtis Parker / CrossRoadsNews

Election activity is hitting high gear with the May 20 Democratic and Republican primaries, nonpartisan and special elections right around the corner. Early voting is under way at select locations, while candidates in local, state and national races are sharing their messages with voters by attending forums and meet-and-greets, and posting signs all over the county. In this Special Election Guide, we look at the high-profile contest for the 4th Congressional District seat and other races.

Ken Watts / CrossRoadsNews

Curtis Parker / CrossRoadsNews

Ken Watts / CrossRoadsNews

Curtis Parker / CrossRoadsNews

2014 Elections By the Numbers

22

455,716

2

1,577

8

2

number of School Board candidates

number of registered voters in DeKalb

number of areas Clarkston seeks to annex

voters casting early ballots through April 30

number of candidates for DeKalb sheriff

number of candidates seeking the 4th Congressional District seat


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May 3, 2014

These candidates are in contested races on DeKalb County ballots. Candidates who are running unopposed are not listed.

2014

Guide to primary, nonpartisan and special elections These candidates are in contested races on the DeKalb County ballots in the May 20, 2014, Democratic and Republican primary elections. This information includes the office they are seeking, the salary for the office, party affiliation, age and occupation. Candidates who are running unopposed are not listed.

(D) = Democrat (R) = Republican (I) = Incumbent

“East Metro Atlanta’s Weekly Newspaper” 2346 Candler Road Decatur, GA 30032 404-284-1888 Fax: 404-284-5007 www.crossroadsnews.com editor@crossroadsnews.com

The 2014 Guide to the Elections is a publication of CrossRoadsNews Inc., East Metro Atlanta’s award-winning weekly newspaper. Editor / Publisher Jennifer Parker Reporters Jennifer Ffrench Parker Ken Watts Copy Editor Brenda Yarbrough Graphics Editor Curtis Parker © 2014 CrossRoadsNews, Inc. All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reprinted without written permission of the publisher.

U.S. House of Representatives Salary: $174,000

4th District Thomas E. “Tom” Brown (D) Henry C. “Hank” Johnson Jr. (D) (I) U.S. Senate

Salary: $174,000

Democrat O. “Steen” Miles (D) M. Michelle Nunn (D) Branko “Rad” Radulovacki (D) Todd Anthony Robinson (D) Republican Paul Collins Broun (R) Arthur A. “Art” Gardner (R) J.P. “Phil” Gingrey (R) Derrick E. Grayson (R) Karen C. Handel (R) J.H. “Jack” Kingston (R) David A. Perdue (R) Governor

Salary: $139,339

John D. Barge (R) J. Nathan Deal (R)(I) David E. Pennington III (R)

Georgia Senate Salary: $17,700

40th District - Democrat Tamara Y. Johnson (D) Benedict I. Truman II (D) 40th District - Republican Richard D. “Dick” Anderson (R) Francis R. “Fran” Millar (R) (I) 42nd District Elena C. Parent (D) R. Kyle Williams (D) 44th District Gail P. Davenport (D) (I) Marcus Eugene Davis (D) 55th District Gloria S. Butler (D) (I) Mark Anthony Williams (D) 79th District James Bradley “Brad” Goodchild (R) Thomas K. “Tom” Taylor (R) (I) 80th District Catherine S. Bernard (R) Michael J. “Mike” Jacobs (R)(I) Georgia House Salary: $17,700

Secretary of State Salary: $123,636

Gerald B. Beckum (D) Doreen Carter (D)

Commissioner of Insurance Salary: $120,394

Keith G. Heard (D) Elizabeth N. “Liz” Johnson (D)

Public Service Commissioner Salary: $116,452 (To Succeed Lauren McDonald)

Douglas T. Kidd (R) Charles C. “Craig” Lutz (R) Lauren W. “Bubba” McDonald (R)(I)

State School Superintendent Salary: $123,270

Democrat Tarnisha L. Dent (D) Marion Spencer “Denise” Freeman (D) Jurita Forehand Mays (D) Alisha Thomas Morgan (D) R. “Rita” Robinzine (D) Valarie D. Wilson (D) Republican Mary Kay Bacallao (R) Ashley D. Bell (R) Michael L. “Mike” Buck (R) Sharyl H. Dawes (R) Allen Bowles Fort (R) Nancy T. Jester (R) T. Fitz Johnson (R) Kira G. Willis (R) Richard L. Woods (R)

86th District Jacqueline L. Adams (D) Michele Henson (D) (I) 87th District Ivy J. Green (D) Earnest L. “Coach” Williams (D) (I) 91st District Diane D. Adoma (D) D. “Dee” Dawkins-Haigler (D) (I) Special Election for Sheriff

Salary: $114,040 (To Fill the Unexpired Term of Thomas Brown, Resigned)

Dale Bernard Collins (D) Ted Golden (D) R. “Tony” Hughes (D) Vernon Jones (D) Melody Maddox (D) Jeff Mann (D) (I) Melvin Mitchell (D) LaSalle Smith Sr. (D)

DeKalb County Board of Commissioners Salary: $38,374

Super District 7 Gregory Adams (D) Stan Watson (D) (I) Democratic Party Questions

n Should Georgia raise the state

minimum wage above the current $5.15 an hour? n Should Georgians’ federal tax dollars be returned to Georgia to fund Medicaid expansion and relieve the indigent care burden on our hospitals?

n Should the Constitution of Georgia be amended to create an independent ethics commission, not tied to the Governor’s office, legislature, or other elected office, to more effectively police potential ethics violations by elected officials? n Should the Constitution of Georgia be amended to make the education budget Georgia’s first funding priority?

Nonpartisan General Election DeKalb County Board of Education Salary: $18,500

District 2 Don McChesney Marshall Orson (I) District 3 Jerrie D. Bason Michael A. Erwin (I) Jarrod Jordan Atticus LeBlanc Willie R. Mosley Jr. District 4 Karen Carter (I) Jim McMahan (I) John Oselette Ella “Coach Smith” Smith District 5 Pia “Chaz Afzal” Bhatti Jesse “Jay” Cunningham R. Alexander Fitzhugh Thad Mayfield (I) Vickie B. Turner District 6 Bridgeman Bolger Melvin Johnson (I) District 7 Kim Ault Lee V. Dukes Joyce Morley (I) City of Clarkston Special Election Goods Freeport Tax Exemptions Shall the City of Clarkston be authorized to enact a Freeport Exemption to exempt goods in the process of being manufactured from taxation? Inventory Freeport Tax Exemptions Shall the City of Clarkston be authorized to enact a Freeport Exemption to exempt inventory of finished manufactured goods still held in the possession of the original manufacturer from taxation? Finished Freeport Tax Exemptions Shall the City of Clarkston be authorized to enact a Freeport Exemption to exempt finished manufactured goods destined for distribution out of state from taxation? Level 2 Freeport Tax Exemptions Shall the City of Clarkston be authorized to enact a Freeport Exemption to exempt retail business inventory from taxation?

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May 3, 2014

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“We should take this voting opportunity seriously because we as a people are paying taxes and we need to be careful who we put in office.”

2014 Early voting gets under way with brisk activity at polls By Ken Watts

Through Wednesday, 1,577 voters had cast early ballots for the May 20 elections in DeKalb, including absentee ballots. Three advance polling precincts opened April 28 for the general primary and nonpartisan and special elections. About a third, or 559 people, voted on the first day. DeKalb has 455,716 registered voters. Of that number, 386,711 are classified as active because they cast ballots in the past two elections. Maxine Daniels, DeKalb election supervisor, said they are expecting a turnout of 20 percent to 30 percent. “That’s usually what we get in the midterm elections,” she said. Advance voting polls are in Decatur and Tucker. They open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays through May 16. Saturday, May 10, is the only weekend day that polls will be open. Monday’s early voters said they cast early ballots “to get it done” and to “avoid election day lines.” Eddie Davis Jr. of Decatur was among the first wave at the elections office on Memorial Drive in Decatur. He said he was happy to vote in the hotly contested special election for sheriff. He said he picked former DeKalb CEO Vernon Gloria Harris Jones, one of seven candidates challenging incumbent Jeffrey Mann. “We got so much crime we need somebody to address it and reduce the number of repeat offenders,” he said moments after casting his ballot. There are also races for U.S. House and Senate, governor, other statewide offices, and the DeKalb School Board and County Commission. Gloria Harris of Decatur, who also voted Monday, said that whether residents come out early or not, every eligible voter should participate. “We should take this voting opportunity seriously because we as a people are paying taxes and we need to be careful who we put in office,” she said. The three advance precincts are DeKalb Voter Registration & Elections Ken Watts / CrossRoadsNews Office, 4380 Memorial Drive, Suite 330; Community Achievement Center, 4522 Flat Shoals Parkway; and Tucker Recreation Center, 4898 LaVista Road. Voters cast their ballots at the main elections office on Memorial Drive. Three advance polling precincts opened on April 28 in DeKalb. Three more early voting locations will open on May 12. Visit http://web.co.dekalb.ga.us/voter/VoterInformation.html.

Voters to decide on annexation to Clarkston By Jennifer Ffrench Parker

Residents in two areas adjoining the city of Clarkston will get to vote on May 20 on whether to join the city of 6,000 people. The city is seeking voter approval for two separate annexations within ZIP code 30021 that include areas along Brockett, Ponce de Leon and North Decatur roads. If both measures pass, Clarkston will add another 7,500 residents, more than doubling its population, and two industrial parks and a commercial area. City Manager Keith Barker said the new areas would expand and diversify the city’s tax base. “We are 1.1 square miles and heavily residential with very little Keith Barker commercial and industrial businesses,” he said. “We need to grow our tax base.” For the annexation vote, Area 1 includes 231 voters in portions of Indian Creek Elementary and Robert Shaw Elementary precincts. Area 2 includes 2,122 voters in parts of Idlewood Elementary and Jolly Elementary precincts. The DeKalb Election Office said the annexation vote will take place in the four affected precincts in unincorporated DeKalb. The legislation designates two separate annexation areas and the voters’ decisions on annexation are independent of each other. Maxine Daniels, DeKalb election supervisor, said because of the timing of the bill’s approval, the referendum will be conducted separately and apart from the general primary election. “Eligible voters have been contacted by mail explaining the requirements and provided a special application for absentee ballot if they choose that method of voting.” Clarkston also is seeking four “Freeport Tax” exemptions for goods, inventory, retail business inventory, and for manufactured goods destined for distribution out of state.

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“I want to be at the table discussing how legislation needs to be crafted to move this nation forward.”

2014

Brown sets sights on another milestone – a seat in Congress By Jennifer Ffrench Parker

By his own admission, Tom Brown is a man who maps his life in 10-year increments. As a young whippersnapper in the Atlanta Fire Department, he had his eyes set on being fire chief by age 40. He made it at age 32 in DeKalb County in 1985. Four years later he was public safety director, and in 2000 he was appointed sheriff when former Sheriff Sidney Dorsey was arrested for orchestrating the murder of Derwin Brown, his elected replacement. After three unopposed terms as sheriff, Brown now has his eyes set on another milestone – a seat in Congress. On May 20, he is hoping to unseat fourterm U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson. In a wideranging interview on April 25, Brown, 62, said he thought a long time about running for Congress. “I am a public servant at heart,” he said. “I am offering myself as someone who has proven leadership, who has shown that they can put together a budget, manage a budget, that can put together new programs, eliminate programs that are not working, that has been able to work within the resources that we have, and to be able to go to Washington and look for resources when there were none back home to keep things operating.” Brown says he wants to be an initiator of change, and not somebody who is merely just waiting for change to happen. “I want to be at the table discussing how legislation needs to be crafted to move this nation forward,” he said, “not waiting for others to do it.” In 2000, Brown said he contemplated running for DeKalb CEO but couldn’t convince then-wife Yolanda about what his family would do if he didn’t win. She wanted to know his Plan B. “At the time my daughter was in middle school and my son was in elementary school,” he said. “In politics, you don’t have a Plan B. So I didn’t get in the race.” In 2010, when Vernon Jones and Connie Stokes challenged Johnson, Brown said he seriously considered entering the race but didn’t for personal reasons. Now divorced and a grandfather, he is going all out for the 4th Congressional District seat that includes portions of DeKalb, Rockdale, Newton and Gwinnett counties. “I love this country and I love this district and I am not happy with the direction that this Congress is taking America, which is nowhere,” he said. In 2013, Brown said, the 535-member Congress passed only 58 bills that went to President Obama for signing. “Most of them were to name post offices after individuals,” he said. “It’s a do-nothing Congress.”

District needs to be front, center Brown says the 4th District needs a strong voice in Congress that reflects the district’s demographic. “The type of people that make up this district, their income level, their educational level, their position in Fortune 500 companies, their positions in owning their own businesses, those voices are loud,” he said.

Supporters surround former DeKalb Sheriff Tom Brown as he announces his candidacy for the 4th Congressional District on Oct. 23, 2013, in Decatur.

Ken Watts / CrossRoadsNews

“I love this country and I love this district and I am not happy with the direction that this Congress is taking America, which is nowhere.” Thomas Brown

“Those voices are clear. And the voice in Washington needs to be as loud and clear to make some things happen.” As a Democratic stronghold, Brown said the 4th District needs to be more front and center in Democratic politics. “You can’t get any bluer in the state of Georgia,” he said. “If you are going to that strong, you have to be at the forefront initiating change and initiating legislation.” At the 2012 Democratic Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Brown said Johnson’s voice was silent. “Our congresman did not have a speaking role,” he said. “A lot of people in the Georgia delegation were struck by that. I was a delegate and if I am not mistaken, every single African-American congressman had a role at the convention. I saw an awful lot of them coming through the podium when prime-time television wasn’t going on.” With all of Johnson’s connections to President Obama, Brown said that the 4th District has little to show for it. And he said the incumbent congressman doesn’t get to count bringing home Georgia’s share of the federal budget and that he shouldn’t count staff salary and time doing constituent service as part of what he brought home to the district. “I beg to differ on his analogy of millions of dollars that he has brought home to the district. At one time I heard around $21 million and I heard a figure of over $100 million and I will challenge him to itemize what is it that he has brought home.” When he was sheriff and his budget shrank, Brown said he went to Washington

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to find alternative resources. “I found grants myself to improve the infrastructure of the jail,” he said. “I looked for monies to continue mental health treatment for the inmates in the jail, to continue the GED program for the inmates. That’s money that I found in Washington, myself. If I can do that, then the congressional office can look at the needs of the district and they can look into the different areas of the federal government, where all of this money is out there for someone to ask for it, and then start bringing some of that money back home to the district. That’s not happening and that is one of the things I want to try to make happen.”

Incumbent’s record questioned Brown questioned Johnson’s legislative record in Congress. “I haven’t seen any meaningful legislation from our congressman since 2007,” he said. “If a congressman from Seattle, Wash., writes a bill with someone else and he gets 275 to sign onto the bill, that is not the same thing as sitting at the table and crafting some legislation that is designed to move America forward and getting that bill passed.” The former sheriff said Johnson’s actions have not been matching his words and that if he is elected, he will be transparent. “I am not going to tell you that I have a problem with one thing and go up there and vote another way thinking you are not going to hear about my vote,” he said. Specifically, Brown recalled a 2013 visit Johnson made to Commissioner Stan Watson’s monthly meeting. “He held up his cell phone and told us that he was fighting to keep the federal government from reading our emails and listening to our telephone conversations,” Brown said. “But when it came time to vote to keep that in place with the NSA, he voted for it. John Lewis voted against it, but he voted for it. So he said one thing to his constituents but he voted another way.”

Brown also questioned Johnson’s vote took to return $90 million to the defense budget to buy tanks that were susceptible to damage from IEDs. “The president didn’t want the tanks. The generals didn’t want the tanks, yet he voted to put the tanks back in the budget for $90 million,” Brown said. “And why, because the four major defense contractors that built those tanks contributed $51,500 to his campaign coffers.” Brown said the tanks are being built in Ohio, so there is no benefit to the 4th District. “That $90 million could have been better spent at the VA Hospital on Claremont Road to help soldiers hurt in wars they fought for their country,” he said.

Fundamentally different approach Brown said that he is a true and blue Democrat despite Johnson’s attempt to paint him otherwise. “Hank has accused me of taking Republican money, but the retired DeKalb County schoolteacher is not a Republican, nor is the barber that has contributed $150 to my campaign,” he said. “Most of my money is Democratic money. Some of my money is Republican money. The vast majority of Republican money that I have received from personal checks live in the district so they have a right to weigh in on who they want to be their Congress person.” When his contributions are compared with Johnson’s 2006 disclosures, Brown said the same Republicans are listed. “He didn’t have a problem with it then.” On national politics, Brown acknowledged that there is no difference between him and Johnson, but he said their approach to the district work is fundamentally different. “I am much more visible, much more active,” he said. “I am much more engaged.” For more highlights of our conversation with former Sheriff Thomas Brown, visit www .crossroadsnews.com.


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May 3, 2014

“The framers of the Constitution thought it was important that people be able to take their civil dispute to court.”

2014

Johnson stands on record, champions two ‘signature’ bills By Jennifer Ffrench Parker

In his almost eight years in Congress, Hank Johnson says he has stood tall for the 4th District, supporting President Barack Obama on key economic and health initiatives and stumping for the 1965 Voting Rights Act when it was being challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2012, he made history when no challengers stepped forward. This time, he faces the well-liked former DeKalb Sheriff Tom Brown. With no Republican challenger in November, the winner of the May 20 Democratic primary takes the seat. Johnson says he stands on his record and that he wants to return to the U.S. House for a fifth term to steer through two pieces of “important” legislation – his Arbitration Fairness Act and his Vote Amendment Act – that he has been working on since 2007 when he first got to Congress. During the 2010 election cycle, he was undergoing experimental treatment for hepatitis C but is healthy again. Johnson said that his fourth round of treatment cleared him of the virus in January 2013. “I am officially cured of hepatitis C,” he said during an April 22 interview. “I am clearheaded, sharp and with seniority.” Johnson’s Arbitration Fairness Act seeks to offer protection to consumers and employees who are forced into signing away their rights to resolve disputes in court. His Vote Amendment Act seeks to incorporate more transparency and accountability for electronic voting machines. Despite strong opposition from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and manufacturers of electronic voting machines, he says he is passionate about the “signature” bills. But both have yet to get hearings in committees, and support has fluctuated with the fortunes of Democrats in the House. Johnson says they are among 62 pieces of legislation he has filed since arriving in 2007. “You will find only one renaming of a post office among them,” he said. “My opponent says that I have not passed any ‘meaningful legislation’ since arriving in Congress. A little research would have shown otherwise.” Johnson said the major difference between him and Brown is that he has a record of public service in the legislative arena, and Brown – whose 28-year public service career as a firefighter, fire chief, public safety director and sheriff – has none. “I passed my first piece of legislation on the DeKalb County Commission within eight months of being there,” said the former District 5 commissioner. “When I was elected to Congress, I had five years and three months on the County Commission. I had established a record of legislative ability. There is a difference in being a legislator and running a jail.” His first legislation was a predatory lending law that was the nation’s second, after North Carolina. With his seniority in the House, Johnson says he stands a chance of chairing a subcommittee of the powerful Judiciary Committee should the Democrats retake control of the House in November. As a trained lawyer and a former magistrate judge, he said his skill set has the kind of breadth that Brown lacks.

Legislative record U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson has sponsored 62 bills. These six were signed into law:

Curtis Parker / CrossRoadsNews

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson is seeking his fifth term. With no GOP challenger in November, the winner of the May 20 Democratic primary takes the seat.

. “When I was elected to Congress, I had five years and three months on the County Commission. I had established a record of legislative ability. There is a difference in being a legislator and running a jail.” Hank Johnson

Six bills Johnson sponsored were passed by the Senate and signed by the president. “They were enacted into law,” he said. “Six out of 62 is nearly 10 percent, which is a pretty good record.” Johnson points out that the GOP gained a majority in the House in 2010 and is not supportive of Democrats’ legislative agendas. “So to be able to achieve that legislative record that apparently my opponent was unaware of, it is notable,” he said. Responding to charges from Brown that he voted to put $90 million into the defense budget for Army tanks that neither Obama nor the Pentagon wanted because tank manufacturers donated $51,000 to his campaign coffers, Johnson says he “strongly” supports the M-1 tank program because it is a proven platform that is essential to land forces. “My job isn’t just to rubber-stamp the requests I get from generals,” he said on April 29. “It’s also to think critically about what our national security requires. I am an experienced member of the Armed Services Committee and qualified to come to conclusions independent of what the Pentagon tells me they want. If the folks who make these tanks decided to support me because I have championed the program, that’s their prerogative. But that’s certainly not my motivation for supporting the tank program.” He said the $90 million was one small part of the $1.1 trillion omnibus bill. “It was not about the M-1 or any other specific program,” he said. “It was about keeping the government open. I guess my opponent is saying he would have voted to shut down the government.” To Brown’s charges that he tells constitu-

ents that he is fighting the National Security Agency’s eavesdropping on their telephone calls and reading their emails but votes for it in Washington, Johnson said he has not. “I have never voted to allow the NSA to listen to phone calls or read domestic to domestic emails of U.S. citizens without a warrant,” he said, adding that the program has nothing to do with listening to calls or reading emails. “It’s about call records. As a former law enforcement official, Tom should understand the distinction.” Johnson said his Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Simplification Act of 2013, or H.R. 1129, also has a good chance to becoming law. The act would decrease the tax burden on thousands of workers in Georgia by establishing a uniform law to ensure that the correct amount of tax is withheld and paid to the states without the undue burden on workers who travel to other states for their jobs. It is receiving a hearing next week. As the top Democrat on the Judiciary Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law Subcommittee exercising oversight of the Comcast-Time Warner merger, Johnson has made it a priority to close the digital divide by ensuring that low-income communities have access to high-speed broadband at an affordable cost. He said his Arbitration Fairness and Vote Amendment acts are worth sticking with. Arbitration Fairness is based on the Seventh Amendment, which provides for a jury trial to settle disputes involving $20 or more. “The framers of the Constitution thought it was important that people be able to take their civil dispute to court and have a jury of their peers decide who wins and who loses,” he said. Johnson said the U.S. Supreme Court has chipped away at the right to a jury trial. “If every place you go to put your mother in a nursing home and the nursing home agreements all require that you agree that you’re gonna arbitrate all disputes,” he said. “If you are gonna buy a car, if you want to build a house, if you want to purchase a cell phone and have cell phone service. If you go

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n H.R. 5330 – To amend the Antitrust Criminal Penalty Enhancement and Reform Act of 2004 to extend the operation of such act, and for other purposes. n H.R. 368 – The Removal Clarification Act of 2011. n H.R. 1626 – The Statutory TimePeriods Technical Amendments Act of 2009. n H.R. 3546 – To authorize the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program at fiscal year 2006 levels through 2012. n H.R. 2675 – The Antitrust Criminal Penalty Enhancement and Reform Act of 2004 Extension Act. n H.R. 4203 - To designate the facility of the U.S. Postal Service located at 3035 Stone Mountain St. in Lithonia as the “Spec. Jamaal RaShard Addison Post Office Building.”

to get a job. So, if every place you turn for goods and services and there is embedded in those contracts a forced arbitration clause, then the effect is that consumers are deprived of that Seventh Amendment right.”

Electronic voting machines With the advent of electronic voting machines in the electoral process, Johnson said voters and candidates are at the whim of proprietary software. “As it stands now, one does not have a right to a meaningful recount with the electronic voting machines,” he said. “The only thing you can do is retabulate what the machines tabulated in the first place.” He proposed the Vote Amendment Act in 2010 to provide for the source code of the machines be deposited with an appropriate federal agency. Johnson says that there is now no procedure, protocol or federal best practices for storing, maintaining and updating electronic voting systems. If he returns to Congress, he said he will continue to work on the five big issues – jobs and economy, equal pay for equal work, raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, comprehensive immigration, and tax reforms – that are facing his district and the country. He said comprehensive tax reform is the most important of the lot. “It means having a tax code that requires everyone to pay their fair share. Right now the tax code is riddled with loopholes that no longer make any economic sense for the nation.” He said his work is not done. “As I go along, I am still thinking of legislative solutions to problems that impact working people and poor people in this country. I am still thinking of things that can create better circumstances for those folks.” For more highlights of our conversation with U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, visit www .crossroadsnews.com.


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“By helping voters make well-informed choices, we are working to ensure that the youth of DeKalb County have a quality education.”

2014

The “It’s for Them, DeKalb” voter education project is hosting candidate forums around the county in addition to its Web site featuring video interviews, questionnaires and other information.

On May 20th,

Elect LaSalle Smith, Sr. Sheriff of DeKalb County

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May 20th

“Doing the Right Thing for the Right Reasons” For 24 years Michele Henson has worked with schools, churches, community organizations and public officials at all levels of government to make DeKalb County a better place for you to live and work. Her PROVEN record of PERFORMANCE and SERVICE makes Michele an effective voice for her constituents in our community, in DeKalb County, and in the Legislature.

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Voters can find information about candidates running for the DeKalb School Board at www.itsforthemdekalb.org. The Web site, which went live April 22, is part of the “It’s for Them, DeKalb” voter education project, funded with a $25,000 grant to Leadership DeKalb by the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. It features video interviews with all 22 candidates seeking seven seats on the DeKalb Board of Education. Questionnaires completed by the candidates with information about their background and issues facing the school district also are posted on the site. The project includes two candidate forums and voting information. Organizers also are running advertisements encouraging voters to go to the polls during the April 28-to-May 16 advance voting period and on election day on May 20. Ron Alston, chairman of Leadership DeKalb, said the School Board election is one of the most important this year. “At the end of the day, youth matters most,” Alston said. “By helping voters make well-informed choices on future leadership, we are working to ensure that the youth of

DeKalb County have a quality education.” Alston said the group appreciates the opportunity to work with the Community Foundation, which connects donors, nonprofits and community leaders to strengthen the Atlanta region. Interest is high in the School Board election because of the issues with district’s accreditation. Last year, Gov. Nathan Deal removed six of the board’s nine members in the wake of SACS placing the district on probation for governance and other issues. He appointed replacement board members to fill their seats. Five of the appointed members are running for election. Jay Cunningham, who was removed from District 5, is the only removed board member who is seeking reelection to the board. The voter education project’s partners include the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, DeKalb Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Junior League of DeKalb County, Parents Council United and South DeKalb Improvement Association. For more information, contact Leadership DeKalb at info@leadershipdekalb.org or 404-373-2491.

Campaigning on county property banned Now that early voting is under way, campaigning on all DeKalb County property is prohibited. In a March 2014 letter to candidates in the May 20 primary, nonpartisan and special elections, DeKalb Election Director Maxine Daniels informed them that campaigning will not be allowed on any county property including the Memorial Drive complex. She said the ban extends even beyond the 150-foot limitation required by the

election code and has been instituted as a safety precaution to protect voters as well as campaigners. “Any posted signs will be promptly removed, pursuant to OCGA § 16-7-58, and individuals campaigning on county property will be asked to leave,” Daniels wrote. Early voting, which began April 28, is under way through May 16. For more information, visit http://web.co.dekalb.ga.us/ Voter/CurrentElectionInfo.html.


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May 3, 2014

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2014

Curtis Parker / CrossRoadsNews

Voters can compare and contrast candidates at forums like this one for the School Board 5th District held at Southwest DeKalb High on April 28.

Meet candidates, hear their views Candidate forums are great places to meet candidates and get a feel for their views and the kind of representatives they could make. Below are some upcoming forums and meet-and-greets. To add yours to the list, email editor@crossroadsnews.com.

May 3 n Sheriff Candidate Forum Candidates for the May 20 special election for DeKalb sheriff are expected at a candidate forum taking place during DeKalb Commissioner Stan Watson’s Community Cabinet starting at 9 a.m. The monthly first Saturday meeting takes place at Chapel Hill Middle School, 3535 Dogwood Farms Road in Decatur. For more information, contact Kelly Lajoie at klajoie @dekalbcountyga.gov or 404-371-3681. n Voter Empowerment Rally Voters can meet and greet candidates in the May 20 primary, special and nonpartisan races at a “Get the Scoop” Voter Empowerment Rally from noon to 2 p.m. hosted by DeKalb Women in NAACP. The event takes place in Bruster’s Ice Cream parking lot, 4790 Flat Shoals Parkway in Decatur. The first 100 people who sign an ­“iPledge 2 Vote” banner will get a free scoop of ice cream. For more information, email Teresa Hardy at ageetah@ymail.com. May 6 n Senate District 42 Forum Former state Rep. Elena Parent, a nonprofit executive, and attorney Kyle Williams face off at 7 p.m. in a forum hosted by DeKalb Young Democrats in Agnes Scott

College’s Rebekah Scott Hall. The two are vying in the May 20 Democratic primary to replace Sen. Jason Carter, who is running for governor. AJC columnist Jim Galloway is moderating. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Space is limited and reservations are required. R.S.V.P. at http://senate42forum.brownpapertickets. com. The college is at 141 East College Ave. in Decatur. For more information, contact Maggie Paynich at dekalbyoungdems@gmail. com or 404-804-6405.

May 8 n 2014 Candidates Forum Decatur and Stone Mountain-Lithonia Alumnae Chapters of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. host candidates seeking office for Congress, state school superintendent, state Senate, and House of Representatives. It takes place at 6 p.m. at the Community Achievement Center, 4522 Flat Shoals Parkway in Decatur. n Political Forum Candidates for Congress, governor, Georgia Senate, state school superintendent and secretary of state, and DeKalb sheriff and Board of County Commissioners will take questions from the media and the audience starting at 6 p.m. The event, hosted by the Right Choices Pastor’s Coalition of DeKalb County, takes place at New Life Church, 3592 Flat Shoals Road in Decatur. For more information, call 770-322-6262. To list your forum here, email complete information to editor@crossroadsnews.com.

V te

Advance voting runs through May 16. To find your voting location and more information on the Board of Education candidates, visit www.itsforthemdekalb.org.

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CrossRoadsNews

May 3, 2014

“This [charter cluster issue] is so clearly a black-white issue. Woe be upon us if we allow it to happen.”

2014

District 5 School Board hopefuls clash over charter clusters By Ken Watts

Incumbent District 5 DeKalb School Board member Thad Mayfield drew heat at a Southwest DeKalb High PTSA candidate forum on April 28 over a report that North DeKalb Republicans are counting on the support of a “gentleman from South DeKalb” to help them win board approval of a proposed seven-school Druid Hills Charter Cluster that was rejected in 2013. “Is the gentleman sitting at this table and is it OK for candidates and board members to promise their votes before hearing all the sides of the issue,” asked forum moderator and CrossRoadsNews Editor and Publisher Jennifer Parker. In March, Sen. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody) told a meeting updating his constituents on legislative initiative aimed at the Mayfield admitted that he was the DeKalb School District that: “gentleman” referred to by Millar because of “We know we will have three votes in his vote last year supporting the Druid Hills favor of the cluster and another gentleman cluster that was rejected in a 5-to-4 vote by from South DeKalb is also running. If he the School Board. wins, we’ll have a 4-3 majority which will give Mayfield said he had seen a video of the a chance for the cluster to form.” meeting and heard Millar’s comment. Mayfield, who was appointed by Gov. Na“It was more a representative boasting to than Deal to the School Board in 2013, is the his constituents about what he had done,” District 5 incumbent. He is being challenged Mayfield said. by private school operator Vickie Turner, He said that he never made promises to insurance salesman and PTA President R. Al- Millar or anyone else about how he will vote exander Fitzhugh, and former School Board in the future. member Jesse “Jay” Cunningham, who was “What we have is a situation where a removed from the board by Deal. Pia Bhatti, politician is speculating about how I might the fourth challenger, was absent. vote,” he said. “There was only one South Twenty candidates are seeking the seven DeKalb man on the board who voted for the seats on the School Board that was reduced cluster and that’s me and I gave my reason. from nine seats. Districts 3 and 5 attracted We needed a prototype [to see if it works]. the most candidates – five each. But now really that is a moot point because The April 28 forum at Southwest DeKalb the superintendent wants the whole district High was co-hosted by the South Lithonia to convert to a charter system.” HJ_Newspaper_10.5 x 8-FINAL_042214:Layout 1He 4/22/14 4:01 PM quick Pageto1 jump on Neighborhood Coalition. challengers were

Vickie Turner (from left), Thad Mayfield, R. Alexander Fitzhugh, and Jesse “Jay” Cunningham participate in an April 28 forum. Pia Bhatti did not attend.

Curtis Parker / CrossRoadsNews

the issue. Turner said it’s simple for her. “I can’t be bought,” said the founder and director of the Augustine Preparatory Academy in Decatur. “It’s time we stop selling out for a bowl of beans. This [charter cluster issue] is so clearly a black-white issue. Woe be upon us if we allow it to happen.” Cunningham said he urged Mayfield not to vote for the cluster petition. “I would not have voted for the Druid Hills cluster,” said Cunningham, who was among five board members removed by Deal after SACS placed the district on probation for governance and other issues. “The cluster idea would have given a free pass to Dunwoody, Tucker, Chamblee, Briarcliff to do the same and would have taken $40 million out of the school system at a time when we can’t afford it.” Fitzhugh said it was just a bad time for that idea, which would have weakened schools at this end of the county.

“It would have taken money out of the system at a time when South DeKalb housing values and property tax revenues are low, creating school funding disparities,” said Fitzhugh, an insurance salesman. On April 1, Superintendent Michael Thurmond recommended to the board that the entire system become a charter district to give local school principals the authority to make changes at their schools through exemptions or “waivers” approved by the district and to allow for the full range of flexibility, autonomy and innovation across all the district’s schools. The board will vote on Thurmond’s proposal at its May 5 meeting. May 1 was the deadline for Georgia schools to notify the state if they will seek charter status, stick with the status quo or adopt a middle ground with elements of both. If approved by the state Department of Education, DeKalb would convert to a charter system for the 2015-2016 school year. On other issues, all four candidates said they would support a raise for DeKalb teachers who haven’t had a pay hike in eight years. But they differed about how to reduce DeKalb’s pupil-teacher ratio, which can be as large as 30-to-1 and may have an adverse effect on student performance. Fitzhugh said the school district, which has a budget of more than $1 billion, doesn’t have a funding issue. “What it has is an allocation issue,” he said. “The system has allocation issues that gobble up money, leading to reductions in teaching staff, and larger class sizes.” The candidates urged the audience to stay engaged with the electoral process and vote. Visit www.crossroadsnews.com for more on the forum.

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CrossRoadsNews, May 3, 2014 - Section B  

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