Voters stirring for State House, commission runoff

By Ed Brock

The candidates for Clayton County Commission District 3 and Georgia House of Representatives District 74 are stirring up voter interest for Tuesday's runoff.

In the commission race, youthful candidate Wole Ralph, 26, will face 55-year-old Charles H. Davis to fill the seat that is being vacated by incumbent Gerald Matthews

Community activist Roberta Abdul-Salaam, 48, will run against Northcutt Elementary School Principal George Jeburk for the House seat.

Davis said the runoff campaign has been hard, but worth it.

"Seems like there's not enough time to get what you want done," Davis said. "But we think we've done a good job getting our message out."

One of Davis' primary concerns is making sure the people of the county don't face a tax hike. He also wants to deal with the density of development in the county and protect green spaces, Davis said. He wants to keep the county clean, provide recreational facilities for the county's youth and make sure the county's school system does not go through another "accreditation problem."

"Our school district should be held to a high level of accountability," Davis said in a statement.

Ralph, who owns Ralph Consulting Services, said he's been getting good reactions from the voters about their involvement in the runoff.

"The voters have been really excited about the campaign," Ralph said. "We've been excited about the opportunity to share our message with the people. It's resonated well."

Ralph said his main priority is improving the quality of life in the county.

"Our rapid growth has placed a tremendous burden on five areas critical to quality of life: traffic, green space, education, residences and businesses," Ralph said in a statement.

Improving the quality of life, Ralph said, includes protecting property values with zoning and code enforcement, preserving green spaces, attracting businesses, utilizing transportation alternatives that reduce traffic and instituting a "homeowner's bill of rights."

Jeburk and Abdul-Salaam attended separate rallies this past weekend.

"We're doing some things to get the people back out to vote again," Jeburk said about his campaign rally.

Jeburk's platform emphasizes providing a quality education for the youth of the state by supporting the HOPE Scholarship program. He also wants to strengthen laws protecting children and restore confidence in state government.

Protecting the environment and advocating for the rights of senior citizens are also goals of Jeburk's candidacy.

Abdul-Salaam said if there are voters out there who are apathetic about the runoff then she doesn't know them. She said her campaign has been receiving numerous endorsements.

She is very concerned about providing child advocacy in the juvenile justice system, something she personally promotes as a member of the county's FAST panel for Juvenile Court and the statewide Juvenile Justice Task Force.

Healthcare is another big issue for Abdul-Salaam.

"I think everybody should have access to quality health care," Abdul-Salaam said. "I think we have too many people who are uninsured and under insured."

She also wants to bring more jobs to the state and provide environmental justice. Her 30 years of experience as a community activist mean she knows all the right people to get things done and can "hit the ground running in January," Abdul-Salaam said. Abdul-Salaam is a former president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, founder and president of Grassroots Connections Inc. and was the first chairwoman of the Clayton County Board of Elections and Registration.

All of the candidates in both races are Democrats.

The voting precincts that will have the commission race on the ballot include Jonesboro 1,2,3, 12 and 13, Lovejoy 1 through 4, Panhandle and Riverdale 2 and 8.

The precincts voting for House District 74 are Oak 2 and 4 and Riverdale 1,2,3,8 and 10.