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Riverdale candidate focused on youth programs

An’Cel Davis, 59, who is seeking elected office for first time, said he doesn’t believe a lack of political experience makes him less qualified to tackle the pressing issues facing the City of Riverdale.

“I have been very active in the neighborhood, and attended several council meetings,” said the barber shop manager, who is seeking the city’s Ward 2 council seat in the Nov. 8 municipal elections.

He is virtually assured of being elected, because his opponent for the seat, Incumbent Councilman Wayne Hall, died unexpectedly last month. Hall’s and Davis’ names are the only ones on the ballot for the position. Votes for Hall, however, will not be counted, according to city officials.

“It saddens me,” said Davis. “I was looking forward to running against [Hall.].” He added that he understands this is a difficult time for Hall’s family, and extends his deepest condolences. “Out of respect for his family,” he said, “I will not attend any of the services for Hall.”

Davis said the main issues he sees in the city, and that he plans to address, are: Stabilizing the city’s finances; encouraging business growth; establishing a strong partnership with the Clayton County School System, and providing more recreational activities and programs for youths.

Born in Tarpon Springs, Fla., Davis has been a Riverdale resident for 30 years. Before relocating to Georgia, he said, he lived in Detroit Michigan, where he worked for Eastern Airlines. His job transferred him to Atlanta in 1982. He left Eastern Airlines, however, and for awhile, worked for the Chrysler Corporation as a manager, he said. He currently manages a barbershop in Atlanta, called Profile.

Davis is a member at Cathedral of Faith Church, in Atlanta, where he serves as a deacon, and chairman of the Trustee Board. And as its Director of Finance, he said he oversees the church’s budget. He is married to Jean Davis, and together, they have five children and 13 grandchildren.

Davis said, once he takes office, his top priority will be to get city councilmembers more involved with the school system, and to provide more programs for young people. “A city that does not have programs for youths is a dying city,” he said.

“Having activities accessible to youths is vital to their growth, as well as cultivating them into productive citizens. We have to go in as a city to see what we can do to make [education] better, and more inviting for our [children].”

He said that one solution to help the schools is to equip teachers with the tools they need to ensure that students’ needs are being met, academically and emotionally.

Davis said he has been attending Parent Teacher Association (PTA) meetings at Charles Drew High School, and his wife, Jean, is working to become a part of the school’s PTA system.

With plans for a multiplex facility under way in Riverdale, Davis said this will be a perfect opportunity to ensure that children are involved in organized sports. “Coaches have a great influence on kids,” he said. “Coaches are also another avenue for parents to [communicate with their children]. It makes a big difference.”

Also on the Nov. 8 ballot, but facing no opposition, are Incumbent Mayor Evelyn Wynn-Dixon, who will enter her second term, and Ward 4 City Councilman Kenny Ruffin.

In addition, voters will also decide whether to allow packaged alcohol sales on Sunday, inside the city limits. According to City Manager Iris Jessie, state legislation allows each municipality to let voters decide whether to allow retailers to sale packaged alcohol, wine, and malt beverages on Sunday’s, between the hours of 12:30 p.m., and 11:30 p.m.