Candidates discuss key issues

By Trina Trice

All the candidates running for positions on the Board of Education and Probate Court judge came out to campaign at a forum Thursday night in Morrow.

The Clayton County chapter of the NAACP sponsored the forum attended by a dozen concerned citizens.

Allen Johnson and Natisha Lee are candidates for the Clayton County Board of Education District 8 seat, a post left vacant when Dr. Sue Ryan resigned in March after serving only three months of her four-year term.

They told the small audience why they've chosen to run, what qualifies them for the position, and what concerns they have about the school system.

Johnson said the problems on the school board and within the school system are not racial issues.

Lee, who hasn't been heard from by many in the county due to her no-show at a previous forum, explained why she is running for the seat.

"I have a daughter in school," she said. "To hear about accreditation and what's going on in the school, it's really bad. It hurt me to my heart ? if we don't have accreditation, there would be a lot of money involved.

"A lot of people are saying I'm not qualified, but it's not about being qualified," she said. "It's about getting the job done. I'm not saying that I'd be the best person on the board, but I'd be there to help."

By the end of the question and answer session, Sid Chapman, president of the Clayton County Educators Association, publicly endorsed Johnson.

Probate Court Judge candidates Clay Davis, Pam Ferguson, Bobby Simmons and Fred Zimmerman did their best to convince residents that they were the most qualified for the post left vacant by Eugene Lawson, who retired in July.

* Davis: "I have the education, the experience and compassion to help those in need."

* Ferguson: "You want a judge that's patient, that will listen to the issues. You also want a judge with understanding and fairness."

* Simmons: "I'm a kind and understanding person, someone you need when you've lost a loved one. Someone who'll respect you."

* Zimmerman: "I'm the only candidate that has the experience ? I want to bring the court to the people."

A Probate Court judge handles guardianship issues, competency hearings, and cases involving wills, marriage licenses and firearms permits.

The winner of the Probate judge race will serve the rest of Lawson's term. The term expires Dec. 31, 2004.

Registered voters will be able to make their choices during the special election Sept. 16.