By Daniel Silliman
Georgia State Sen. Gail Davenport (D-Jonesboro), and Georgia State Rep. Mike Glanton (D-Jonesboro), have both been honored as "Legislator of the Year."
The awards were given by the Clayton County chapter of The Arc, a non-profit advocacy group for people with developmental disabilities.
Both legislators were recognized for making themselves available to disability groups, and for voting for an increase in services, and a pay increase for service providers.
Virginia Ford, president of the county's Arc, said she is always able to rely on these lawmakers, they will always meet with Arc and hear about the needs of Georgia's consumers of mental health care.
Davenport co-sponsored a bill which established requirements for therapy for children with developmental disabilities, and has opened her doors to The Arc and other advocacy groups.
"Because of her availability," Ford said, "she is able to comprehend the difficulties that face many of our population."
Davenport is up for re-election this year, and is facing three challengers for her seat: Gail Buckner, a former state representative, De'Mont Davis, an information technology consultant; and Artansa Snell, a real estate broker.
Glanton, who also is receiving the award, said it is important for legislators to try and ensure that the developmentally disabled can "remain in the community, with their families and friends that care for them, that can give them the attention and the support they deserve and that they need."
Glanton was one of only a few legislators who showed up to last year's "Disability Day at the Capitol," and visited Arc's facilities to wish Special Olympians success.
The first term legislator, who isn't facing any opposition in his bid for re-election, said he valued the award and would use it to remind himself of his commitments.
"We must always remember our commitment and dedication to, 'the least of these,'" Glanton said. "There has to be some social consciousness that's balanced with civic responsibility, fiscal concerns and economic development."
The Arc of Clayton County is a non-profit organization with about 50 members, who are concerned citizens, and families of someone who has special needs.
The organization primarily does advocacy and education work, but also runs Clayton Center Community Support Services.
For information about The Arc, call Virginia Ford at (404) 363-8494.