By Joel Hall
State Sen. Valencia Seay (D-Riverdale) will have a lead role in one of the nation's most influential groups, which advocates for positive legislation that impacts the African-American community.
This month, Seay was elected to the Executive Committee of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) during the organization's 32nd annual legislative conference in Washington, D.C.
The NBCSL meets three times a year to adopt policies meant to improve black communities. The goals of the group of legislators include tax reform, foreclosure prevention, and eliminating the racial disparities in incarceration rates for specific crimes, such as crack-cocaine use, versus powdered-cocaine use.
"I hope to have a voice, so as we move forward, we can express our concerns," Seay said.
Hundreds of legislators from around the country chose Seay to help guide the interests of the group.
"It's an awesome feeling," she said. "Anytime you have colleagues from other states, who have known you throughout the years, and trust you to be a part of the leadership, that is overwhelming."
Seay said she has served as a member of the NBCSL since 2000. Outside the organization, she has held a series of local leadership positions, including past stints in the Georgia House of Representatives, as well as service on the Clayton County Board of Education.
A life member of the National Council of Negro Women and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, she has served on the ethics committee, and federal relations network of the Georgia School Board Association.
On the NBCSL executive committee, Seay will be replacing State Rep. Bob Holmes (D-Atlanta). He will be leaving the Georgia General Assembly after 34 years in the legislature. Holmes, who nominated Seay as his replacement, said he has great confidence in Seay's abilities.
"I nominated Valencia because I have known her a little more than a decade," said Holmes. "She is a committed individual who is very dedicated and focused. If you give her an assignment to do something by a certain date, it's going to be there.
"She's not the kind of person who you have to look over their shoulder," he continued. "She goes way beyond what is expected of an elected official, and she spends an inordinate amount of time working on various issues."
Seay said in her leadership role in the NBCSL, she would work to acquire federal dollars for a proposed National Memorial for Martin Luther King, Jr., in Washington, D.C.; fight for more education funding for schools in urban areas; and try to eliminate school-voucher programs which take money out of public schools.
"One of the things that we are in agreement about is that vouchers do not help our school districts," said Seay. "It's public money to help send a child to private school. We believe if the parent wants their child to have a private education, then the parent should have to pay."
Seay said she would be able to continue to give good representation to her senate district, which covers west Clayton and north Fayette counties.