By Jason A. Smith
As the race for State House District 91 comes to a head this week, differences in the two remaining Democratic candidates' approach to education figure heavily in their platforms.
Rita Robinzine, of Ellenwood, will face Rahn Mayo, of Decatur, in Tuesday's runoff for the open seat in the Georgia legislature.
Robinzine, 41, is a DeKalb County educator with 19 years of experience.
Her main objective in seeking election is to put a stop to a program she believes would be detrimental to education in the state. "I'm running to protect public schools from vouchers," said Robinzine, who has taken issue with the fact Mayo is backed by the All Children Matter organization, which supports the use of vouchers for education.
"It is imperative that I get elected on Tuesday, so I can fight for the children of Georgia. Public money needs to stay in the public school system," Robinzine said.
Mayo, a 32-year-old real estate broker, defended his affiliation with the Republican-funded group.
He said he would support the use of vouchers on a limited basis only. "I would not be in favor of [their] widespread use," said Mayo. "But in emergency situations, like what we face with education in Clayton County, I would be open to all options."
Robinzine, who is not married and has no children, said if elected, she is focusing her attention on pro-voucher legislation which Republicans plan to introduce in the 2009 General Assembly. "It's my priority to see to it that the bill is stopped."
Robinzine also plans to look for ways to improve transportation and alleviate congestion in Henry County, by working with legislators to bring express buses to the area.
Other issues she is looking to include are, providing affordable healthcare, and funding for road projects in the district.
Mayo, who has been married to his wife, Cristel, for six years, said the nation's economy makes it necessary for Georgia lawmakers to work toward improving the state's "dismal ranking" in education.
"One of the most important functions of a solid economy is a strong education community," he said. "It's important to provide quality education, in order to attract quality businesses and large companies that produce jobs."
He added, he also hopes to work toward increasing the level of career-based education in area schools, and providing training for displaced workers from struggling industries.
Other issues Mayo plans to address, if elected, include exploring ways to export more Georgia products to developing nations to improve economic conditions in the state.