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Number of candidates filing for office slows

By Billy Corriher

After a flurry of candidates jumped into the primary races on Monday, the number of candidates qualifying has slowed to a trickle.

On Wednesday, the county picked up a school board candidate, a county commission candidate along with incumbents for Congress and clerk of superior court.

Still not qualifying are two high-profile members of the Clayton County School Board n chairwoman Nedra Ware and member Linda Crummy.

Some political observers have speculated that candidates wait until the last minute to see who might for to run against them.

The qualifying for the July primary closes at noon on Friday.

Local high school counselor Danny Hayes has filed to run for Commissioner Virginia Gray's seat.

Hayes said he jumped into the race because the people of his district need a more effective voice on issues like dense development and the construction landfill near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

"I got involved to be a watchdog for the community," he said.

With all the growth the county has experienced, Hayes said citizens are also worried about overcrowding in schools.

"We don't have enough schools to accommodate the kids we have already," he said.

Hayes said his district, in the Riverdale/College Park area, also needs more recreational facilities for youth.

Ronald Ringer has filed to run for the seat of Commissioner Gerald Matthews, who is not seeking reelection in November.

Cobb County teacher

running for school board

A former Clayton County teacher, Jermaine Dawson, filed to run against School Board member Barbara Wells.

Dawson, now a math teacher in Cobb County, said his Gender-Based Approach to Educational Success program is proof that he can improve students' performance. Dawson said the program, which uses different teaching strategies for male and female students, leads to better test results.

"I think I know what the students and parents need in Clayton County," he said. "When I look at the (current) school board, they're making decisions without the children in mind."

Dawson said he would ensure the school board makes sound financial decisions, and he would offer his gender-based program to the system's administrators.

"Good school systems begin with good school boards," he said.

Wells filed earlier in the week.

Clerk of Superior

Court running again

Linda Miller, Clayton County Clerk of Superior Court, filed on Wednesday to run for her fourth term.

"I believe my experience will be a huge issue in the election," she said.

With all the budget cuts the county has experienced in recent years, Miller said she has cut costs in her office and created new revenue sources.

Miller said that if she wins in November, she plans to retire after her next term.

Scott files to run for reelection

U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, has qualified to defend his seat for the first time since it was created in 2002 by federal redistricting. Scott said that since taking office, he has been an effective and responsive legislator.

Scott said he has been active in seeking more funding for noise abatement for county residents near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, securing money for the proposed Atlanta-Lovejoy commuter rail line, and the effort to keep Fort Gillem open through the 2005 round of the military's Base Realignment and Closures.

"I've worked with the cities and (Clayton) County to make sure Fort Gillem and Fort McPherson stay strong and are expanded," he said.

As a freshman representative, Scott received a seat on the Democratic Group on National Security, a role that gives him insight into national security and the war in Iraq, which he acknowledges is going through a "very rough period."

"If there was any doubt about a link between Iraq and terrorists before the war, this fighting shows there is a link now," he said.

But Scott said it is important that U.S. forces stay the course.

"If we leave there with the job incomplete, the terrorists will win," he said. "The best way that we can be true to our soldiers, who are putting their lives on the line, is to complete the job and show them that the 700 lives lost have not been in vain."

No one had filed by Wednesday to challenge Scott.

U.S. Senate race heats up

With Democratic Sen. Zell Miller stepping down after his current term, the field of candidates qualifying to run for his seat is getting crowded. Four Democrats and three Republicans have filed so far to battle for their party's Senate nomination.

U.S. Rep. Denise Majette, D-Decatur, has been in office since 2002 and said her diverse background as attorney, judge and legislator makes her the most qualified candidate.

"I've spent my entire adult life in public service," she said.

Majette, a member of the House Education Committee and Budget Committee, said that most of the voters she has talked to are concerned about affordable health care and education issues.

"I want to be able to bridge the gaps so the American dream will be accessible to each and every Georgian," she said.

State Senator Mary Squires, D-Norcross, has also qualified to seek the Democratic nomination for Miller's seat. Squires, a former state representative who was also elected to the Senate in 2002, said the economy is the biggest issue in this year's race.

"The thing we've noticed that is most prominent in people's minds is jobs," she said.

Squires said she will introduce a job creation plan in the next few weeks, and she said she would work to provide affordable healthcare in the Senate. Many voters are also concerned with President Bush's foreign policy, Squires said.

"People feel that the administration has lost its focus," she said. "The focus should not be on foreign conflict. It should be on protecting the homeland."

Former Public Service Commission candidate Jim Boyd, a Democrat from Duluth, said his Senate campaign is focused on getting Georgians to support the Democratic Party and vote President Bush out of office.

"There's only one issue for the voters in November n ?Do we need four more years of Bush, or do we need a change?" he said. "I really think it's time for a change nationally."

Albany attorney James Finkelstein qualified on Wednesday to seek the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate. Finkelstein has never held office before and said the biggest factor in his decision to run was the war in Iraq.

Finkelstein said the death of Lt. Col. Bob Zangas, his son's friend and fellow soldier in Iraq, gave him a desire to do more for the troops. Finkelstein said many troops, particularly reservists and national guard soldiers, do not have all the resources they need.

"They literally weren't equipped with the right gear," he said. "I don't want to see a (Senate) election focus on trivial issues when we have people fighting and dying."

Finkelstein said he also supports simplifying the tax system and imposing taxes on companies that outsource labor.

In addition to the crowded Democratic field, two U.S. representatives and a millionaire businessman are battling to get on the Republican ticket for U.S. Senate.

U.S. Rep. Johnny Isakson of Atlanta, who has served three terms in Congress, emerged as the frontrunner early in the race. Isakson said his campaign is focused on supporting the War on Terror and making Bush's tax cuts permanent.

"We can't compromise in a world of terror and terrorists," he said.

Isakson also said the recent tax cuts have led to an economic recovery and making them permanent would help even more.

"The economy is on the way back," he said, noting that there are still some concerns with unemployment. "The biggest inhibitor to a sustained recovery would be letting the tax cuts sunset."

But one of Isakson's Republican opponents, U.S. Rep. Mac Collins of Jackson, is not as upbeat in his assessment of the economy.

After national security, Collins said that Georgia voters' main concerns can be summed up in three words: jobs, jobs jobs.

"The economy is coming back, but it's not as strong as we'd like it to be," he said.

Collins, a six-term congressman, said the loss of manufacturing jobs is an issue that particularly needs to be addressed in the Senate.

"We need to stop the bleeding," he said.

Collins said he wants to stop outsourcing by making it cheaper to produce goods in America by examining taxes and regulations placed on businesses.

Georgia voters are also concerned with national security, particularly along the nation's borders, Collins said.

"Our primary responsibility is the security of the American people," he said.

Former Godfather's Pizza CEO Hermain Cain, from McDonough, has emerged in recent months as another serious challenger for the Republican nomination. Cain said his message of fiscal conservatism is resonating with Georgia voters.

Cain said he advocates overhauling and streamlining Medicare, restructuring social security to include personal savings accounts, and replacing the tax code with a national sales tax.

"The (Medicare) system is broken," he said. "We need to stop using Band-aids and do major surgery."

Cain also said much of his campaign is based on his status as a Washington outsider.

"(My opponents) are politicians, and I'm a problem solver," he said. "They are part of the status quo, and I am going to challenge the status quo."