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Bodkin challenges Baker to BOE special election debate

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

There is one question Marcela Bodkin says she frequently gets when going door-to-door, asking voters to support her in a special election Sept. 16, for the Clayton County Board of Education District 6 seat: When will she and her opponent, Mary Baker, hold a debate?

"The citizens of Clayton County deserve to know who they are voting for," said Bodkin on Thursday. "They want to see how the candidates differ from one another."

Bodkin and Baker addressed the public on the same stage once before. They appeared at a Clayton County Chamber of Commerce candidates forum in June.

Bodkin produced an e-mail she sent to Baker on Wednesday challenging her to a debate to let the voters in district get a grasp of who is seeking to serve the remaining three and a half months of former board chairperson Eddie White's unexpired term.

Bodkin wants the debate held before early voting begins on Sept. 8. She left the decision of the debate's venue for Baker to decide, and suggested two local newspapers, the Concerned Citizens of Clayton County (C4), or the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce could moderate it.

Baker did not return several phone calls to her cell phone and one call to her home on Thursday.

Advance voting for the special election will be held Sept. 8-12, and will be conducted at the Board of Elections and Registration office, 121 S. McDonough St., Jonesboro.

Baker defeated John Askew in the Aug. 5 Democratic primary run-off election. She will not face a Republican challenger in the Nov. 4 general election. However, Bodkin is seeking a Writ of Mandamus against the Clayton County Board of Elections in Clayton County Superior Court to get herself put on that ballot as an independent candidate for the general election.

The special election winner will take office immediately, but the winner of the general election will not take office until Jan. 1, 2009.

Bodkin, a management analyst for the U.S. Department of Defense, had to collect the signatures of 709 registered District 6 voters to get on the ballot. She collected 1,800. However, the Board of Elections and Registration has certified only 239 signatures. Bodkin is challenging the certification in Clayton County Superior Court, but a date has not been set for a hearing.