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Candidates qualify for school board races

By Billy Corriher

With only three hours left to qualify for the November election, two key school board members, Chairwoman Nedra Ware and board member Linda Crummy, have yet to qualify.

The lone candidate running in Ware's district has dropped out of the race, leaving no candidates at this point.

Cheryl Singletary said she had to withdraw from the race because her employer said her candidacy would be a conflict of interest.

Even though Crummy hasn't qualified, Riverdale resident Michelle Jackson filed on Thursday to run for her seat.

Another school board hopeful, Riverdale resident Dave Lynton, filed Thursday to run against board member Carol Kellam.

Lynton, who works for the state's Department of Juvenile Justice, said his platform is based on instituting a strong code of ethics for the school board, and he wants to bring his experience with juvenile justice to his role.

"I think my experience working with juvenile justice and at-risk youth for so long? will make me a good voice for that group," he said.

Lynton said he also wants to ensure financial integrity in the school system and provide "a sense of hope for the teachers who have gone through so much this year."

Lynton said he was also disappointed with the school board when it appointed Kellam instead of holding a special election.

"I feel as if, particularly in District 7, the voters were disenfranchised," he said.

Attempts to reach Kellam after her qualifying have been unsuccessful.

Qualifying ends on Friday at noon.

Incumbent, challengers file for commission races

Commissioner Virginia Gray filed on Tuesday to run for her third term, saying there are still projects that she wants to see completed.

"I need to see some of those projects I started to fruition," she said, mentioning the county's new youth recreation centers and expanding the Riverdale Senior Center.

"I am consistent in everything I do," Gray said. "Everything I do, I do with the citizens in mind."

Gray said she relies on God when making her decisions, and she said her community involvement demonstrates her commitment to Clayton County.

"That is also evidenced by my involvement in the associations related to this office," she said, noting her recent appointment to the Board of Managers of the Association of County Commissioners Georgia.

Jonesboro resident Cedric McCrary filed Thursday to run for the seat being vacated by Commissioner Gerald Matthews, who is not seeking reelection.

McCrary said he decided to run after him and his wife considered moving from the county.

"Some of the qualities Clayton County had when we moved here are changing," he said. "But I figured that instead of running from the issues, I could help change them."

McCrary said he wanted to make the county safer by providing a bigger police presence, and if elected, he would address residents' concerns about the impact of development on the county's roads and schools.

"You want to welcome growth? but you want to be able to do it on a level where you can appreciate it," he said.

McCrary said that in addition to the county's planned recreation centers, he also wanted to create more programs for the county's youth.

Lifelong county resident Ron Ringer has also filed to run for Matthews' seat because getting involved with county government is a "lifelong dream" for him.

"I want to put something back in the community," he said.

Ringer said that if he's elected, he would listen to residents' concerns about dense development in the county.

"I would have liked for the county to stay the same as it was 20 years ago? but there's nothing you can do about it now," he said. "You just try to make it the best county you can."

Former candidate files for State Court Judge

Former state court judge candidate Coatsey Ellison filed Thursday to challenge incumbent Harold Benefield again in November.

Ellison said he's been practicing in Jonesboro for 17 years, and he thinks the county needs a judge that looks at the specifics of every individual case.

"In terms of how justice is handled in the courtroom? we need a change," he said.

Benefield filed earlier this week.

Jonesboro lawyer to run for District Attorney

Jonesboro attorney Robert Mack filed on Thursday to challenge District Attorney Bob Keller.

Keller will also face competition from two other local attorneys, Michael King and former state Senate candidate Jewel Scott.