With about a month before Powder Springs, Austell and Mableton residents will choose their county commission representative, four of the five Democrats battling for the position attempted to rally a packed room of voters to their corners Wednesday.
The only no-show at the forum—held at the and hosted by state Rep. David Wilkerson and the Powder Springs Task Force—was Connie Taylor, a real estate broker and member of the Cobb Tax Assessor Board and Cobb SPLOST Oversight Committee.
Candidates, which also included Board of Education Post 3 hopefuls, addressed the crowd of at least 50 for a few minutes before breaking up into an informal meet-and-greet.
First up was Lisa Cupid, the facilitator of the Austell Community Taskforce Partnership since its inception two years ago, a law and public administration student, and South Cobb volunteer.
Cupid said she and her husband’s two children drove her to run for the District 4 seat, which represents the Southwest chunk of the county.
“After having our children,” she said, “we realized just how much our area needed a change and needed it now. We’ve been here too long and seen this area remain what I’ve heard for decades from talking to so many people—the stepchild of Cobb County.”
Amid a struggling economy, Cupid said, Cobb should invest in partnerships to keep services going. She also noted that she is “results-oriented” and sets benchmarks to reach goals thanks to her engineering background.
The next speaker was Ruth Negron, who served as an assistant to former District 4 Commissioner Annette Kesting from 2005-08. She said she would focus on “restoring dilapidated neighborhoods consisting of foreclosures (and) vacancies.”
“But I think the crucial thing most of all has been the loss of involvement and purpose in the community,” Negron said.
Accessibility as a commissioner, economic growth, and promoting teamwork were other issues she said she would focus on if elected.
Negron, originally from Puerto Rico, said she is “passionate about joining and awakening community.”
“If you look around, this is a diverse community, and I think it’s time that government represents that diversity,” she said.
Another candidate, Michael Rhett, a retired member of the U.S. Air Force, said he has been “working hard for your vote before I asked for your vote.”
He noted his membership on the Cobb TSPLOST Oversight Committee, the Powder Springs Economic Development Committee, and the Powder Springs Task Force. On the task force, he explained how he has helped with , the fight to keep the Ron Anderson Recreation Center open, and the fundraising for dedicated football standout Rajaan Bennett.
“And now today, that’s the only African-American memorial marker in this community,” he said.
Rhett said that when talking about improving South Cobb, Powder Springs should be included in discussions about Mableton and Austell.
“We need a comprehensive plan that’s going to revitalize all of South Cobb,” he said.
Incumbent Woody Thompson, who has first served in the District 4 seat from 1997-2004 and regained his seat over Kesting in 2008, said Rhett supported him during the last election, and that the current election is a “good, clean race.”
Thompson, a real estate broker, said he is “privileged to talk about the things I have accomplished”: helping with the site selection and fundraising for the South Cobb Library; the Austell library branch opening in the Threadmill Mall; establishing South Cobb’s first enterprise zone under House Bill 663, which brought $57 million worth of investments and 475 new jobs to the area; fundraising for the Mable House Amphitheatre; and the completion of the South Cobb Recreation Center and the Silver Comet Trail.
“It takes a lot of cooperation to work with the other commissioners,” he said. “I know how to get things done—that only comes from years of experience.”
Last up of the commission candidates was community volunteer Monica DeLancy, who said she was late because the car her friend let her borrow overheated, and then someone picked her up and brought her to the forum.
“That’s what I’m talking about,” she said. “I’m committed to the cause. I’m committed to serving the community.”
She explained that her community involvement, like with back-to-school events, is about “working” and “protecting” children and families. “I came by bus; I came by cabs; I came here because I wanted to come here to support you here in Powder Springs—your community, our community.”
Since , it appears whoever takes down the July 31 primary will also win in the general election.
Voters should be registered by July 2 to participate in the July 31 primaries, non-partisan elections, and TSPLOST vote.
For the Nov. 6 general election, which includes voting for president, citizens should be registered by Oct. 9.