By Curt Yeomans
Residents in the Panhandle region of Clayton County will get their first chance to hear from the candidates for the Board of Education's District 1 special election tonight at the Lovejoy Community Center.
The forum, at 11622 Hastings Bridge Road, is hosted by the League of Women Voters of Georgia and the Psi Alpha Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. It will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
The special election will be held in conjunction with the Nov. 4 general election.
"We do [forums] because we want citizens to be informed before they go to the polls," said Rebekah Holland, a Lovejoy City councilwoman, and spokesperson for the League of Women Voters of Georgia.
Candidates Pamela Adamson; William Callier; Whayne Clarke; Dominick Crea; Wendy Labat; Maggie Martinez, and Melody Totten have confirmed their participation. It's uncertain if Cleopatra Ballantyne will participate, according to a statement from the League of Women Voters of Georgia. Candidates Jean Brown and Paulette Stewart declined to participate in the forum, according to the sponsoring groups.
Keith Horton and G. Mark Simpson, have dropped out of the race, according to election officials.
The format for the forum will allow citizens to submit questions to a moderator before the event begins. The questions will be reviewed by the forum's organizers, and any inflammatory questions will be rejected, said Holland.
The school board's District 1 seat became vacant on Aug. 28, when Gov. Sonny Perdue removed former board chairperson Michelle Strong from office, along with three other board members, for unethical behavior and violations of the state's Open Meetings Act. Strong was the previous District 1 representative.
"We don't want a repeat of what has happened," said Holland. "The people want someone who is there for the community, and not for some other allegiances that we may not know about."