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Clayton County legislative candidates address airport relations, economic development

Cannabis oil issued also addressed

Valencia Stovall

Valencia Stovall

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Roberta Abdul-Salaam

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Valencia Seay

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Marcus Davis

JONESBORO — The most recent legislative term saw legislation passed that targets Clayton County’s ability to tax business at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, but also revived an old option for mass transit. For that reason, those two issues, along with economic development, were highlighted in questions posed to state legislative candidates.

Here are the candidates in their words:

State House District 74

VALENCIA STOVALL

Incumbent District 74 Representative

Age: 44

Occupation: Business Owner-Promotional Printing

Lived in Clayton County for seven years, and lived in the district for five years

There has been a lot that has taken place in the last two years concerning Clayton County and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and vendors at the airport. What do you feel is the biggest legislative issue concerning county’s relationship with both the airport and the vendors, and what would you do as a legislator to address it?

“The biggest legislative issues are communication and the limited involvement with economic growth in and around the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. It is estimated at least 80-percent of the airport is located in Clayton, but the county’s input is very minimum and the same can be said of the surrounding municipalities like College Park, East Point and Hapeville. To combat these issues, I introduced HB 545 to create a development authority that would have decision making power and include on its board: Clayton, Fulton and all cities deciding to join. It passed in the House, but was stalled in the Senate. It is good the Aerotropolis Alliance has been formed, but it doesn’t have legislative authority. Secondly, I will continue to support Community Improvement Districts which have been successful in other parts of Metro Atlanta with economic development.”

Now that transportation in the county has been addressed with the passage of HB 1009, the attention could turn to economic development in the county. What legislation would you pursue to spur economic development throughout the county and why would you pursue that legislation (this could include Hospital-related issues since its presence impacts economic development)?

“Economic development has been a part of my platform since being elected in 2012. As such I was a co-signer on HB 1009 because of the impact transit has on our county with job creation and education. As stated previously, Community Improvement Districts are important because it shows the commitment level of business owners to the community they serve. I would also pursue legislation that increases opportunities for career development for our children along with more focused training for adults. The present and future industry demands in health care, logistics and technology will spur the need for training and development. The upcoming Ft. Gilem Project and the deepening of the Savannah Port are examples.”

There was a lot of talk about legalization of cannabis oil for medicinal purposes in the final days of the 2014 legislative session. What is your stance on this issue and why is that your stance?

“I supported HB 885, the Medicinal Cannabis Oil bill, because it would allow the treatment of certain seizure disorders in both children and adults. These afflictions caused by some seizure disorders can lead to death. Many suffer pain and aren’t able to have a good quality of life due to the discomfort. This oil will be harvested from the marijuana plant but will not produce the same high recreational usage produces. This bill also allows for clinical trials and research. I believe the treatment should have included sufferers of Sickle Cell Anemia and Lupus. It is unfortunate that it did not receive full passage because patients will continue to suffer or move out of Georgia.”

ROBERTA ABDUL-SALAAM

Represented District 74 from 2005-2012

What do you feel is the biggest legislative issue concerning county’s relationship with both the airport and the vendors, and what would you do as a legislator to address it?

“The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport plays a vital role in Clayton County. It is the world’s busiest airport. Legislatively, I would like to explore opportunities wherein Clayton County could have a greater financial benefit. For example, in 2010 I passed legislation that would allow Clayton County to receive an additional one-cent sales tax from certain vendors located at the airport. I think we could put the additional revenue to good use in Clayton County.”

What legislation would you pursue to spur economic development throughout the county and why would you pursue that legislation (this could include Hospital-related issues since its presence impacts economic development)?

“Transportation is perhaps one of the biggest issues to Clayton County citizens. The loss of public transportation caused a lot of economic hardships both for families and businesses alike. Many businesses have left the county. I am excited about the passage of HB 1009 which is modeled from the legislation I passed in 2010 and citizens voted over 69% in favor of bringing MARTA to Clayton County. I led the fight to save C-Tran and the legislation I passed would bring more than $47 million per year (indefinitely) for the sole use of Clayton County public transportation. This legislation is a win-win for the county because according to ACCG approximately 65% of these funds would be generated by people traveling through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. I am optimistic and I look forward to the Clayton Commission picking up the mantle and placing a binding referendum on the November ballot to bring MARTA to Clayton County. I will continue my grassroots advocacy to bring public transit back through the Friends of Clayton Transit, a broad based coalition of local leaders, ministers and transportation/ community organizations. TRANSIT MATTERS!”

There was a lot of talk about legalization of cannabis oil for medicinal purposes in the final days of the 2014 legislative session. What is your stance on this issue and why is that your stance?

“I would vote in favor of the legalization of cannabis oil for medicinal purposes. According to the bill introduced in the legislature earlier this year, clinical research has shown that this oil can improve the quality of life for patients suffering from certain debilitating illnesses. I support further research and limited, but legal use for medicinal purposes.”

YASMIN NEAL

Represented House District 75 from 2011-2012

No response received

State Senate District 34

VALENCIA SEAY

Incumbent District 34 Senator

What do you feel is the biggest legislative issue concerning county’s relationship with both the airport and the vendors, and what would you do as a legislator to address it?

“As you know, I was able to stop the bill last year to give our county an opportunity to allow the courts to resolve issues. We are all in this together with HJIA being in Clayton County. The airport is the economic engine for our county from my vantage point. I will continue to work with the airport, Delta and others to make sure Clayton County is fairly easy to protect our interest on all levels.”

What legislation would you pursue to spur economic development throughout the county and why would you pursue that legislation (this could include Hospital-related issues since its presence impacts economic development)?

“I support economic development, I invest in our county and consistently remind my colleagues to do the same. I hope we will start by teaching people to value where they live by keeping it clean and beautiful and becoming a homeowner to decrease inventory and added to the tax digest.”

There was a lot of talk about legalization of cannabis oil for medicinal purposes in the final days of the 2014 legislative session. What is your stance on this issue and why is that your stance?

“I support modern medicine to help all people in need, including cannabis oil.”

SHERRY MALLORY

Age: 43

Occupation: Media and marketing consultant, Global Media Empire, LLC

Has lived in Clayton County for 14 years and in District 34 for four years

What do you feel is the biggest legislative issue concerning county’s relationship with both the airport and the vendors, and what would you do as a legislator to address it?

“From my knowledge, I figure that the vendors are not too happy with the fact that they are paying taxes on real property that has restrictions. However, I believe that this is a major legislative issue concerning the county’s relationship with the airport and vendors because they (vendors) should be able to leverage the cost for items based on the taxes paid for by both local and international customers to afford the taxation. As a legislator, I would modify the current legislation to better support and protect the relationship between both Clayton County and airport.”

What legislation would you pursue to spur economic development throughout the county and why would you pursue that legislation (this could include Hospital-related issues since its presence impacts economic development)?

“As a legislator I would support or amend HB 1009 if needed, or introduce new legislation to encourage having a transportation system that will ultimately stimulate the economy in Clayton County. To meet the needs of global accessibility, to influence employment opportunities in the health care related fields, increase business growth and expansion. Also training to sustain our community so that they will have a comfortable place to live, work, obtain an education and worship.”

There was a lot of talk about legalization of cannabis oil for medicinal purposes in the final days of the 2014 legislative session. What is your stance on this issue and why is that your stance?

“As a legislator I will support legislation regarding legalizing cannabis oil for medicinal purposes to produce low-THC cannabis oil, which they would be authorized to distribute to those with cancer, glaucoma and seizures.”

State Senate District 44

GAIL DAVENPORT

Incumbent District 44 Senator

No response received

MARCUS DAVIS

Age: 41

Occupation: Ordained bishop, Great Commission Ministry Church

Lived in Clayton County for more than 20 years and lived in District 44 for six years

What do you feel is the biggest legislative issue concerning county’s relationship with both the airport and the vendors, and what would you do as a legislator to address it?

“The State Senate passage of ‘devastating’ HB 399 is the biggest legislative issue concerning county’s relationship with both the airport and the vendors. Once HB 399 is signed into law, not only would county government be affected but Clayton County School District would be impacted by the loss of $8.86 million, which equals the annual salaries of 130 school teachers. I will work out the logistics of House Bill 399. I will meet with the county attorney and the tax assessor to see where we go from here.”

What legislation would you pursue to spur economic development throughout the county and why would you pursue that legislation (this could include Hospital-related issues since its presence impacts economic development)?

“I will pursue HB 128. This legislation provides for a new revolving fund to be titled the ‘Georgia Downtown Renaissance Fund.’ The fund will help cities with planning and revitalization of downtown areas through technical assistance and low interest loans. The commissioner of community affairs will be the director of the Georgia Downtown Renaissance Fund. The department of community affairs will be authorized to declare any rules and regulations necessary to implement the fund. The initial investment into the fund will be capped on an annual basis of $5 million per year for up to four years, not to exceed $20 million.”

There was a lot of talk about legalization of cannabis oil for medicinal purposes in the final days of the 2014 legislative session. What is your stance on this issue and why is that your stance?

“I feel that this could be a move in the right direction. Under the bill, academic medical centers in the state would be permitted to produce low-THC cannabis oil, which they would be authorized to distribute to those with cancer, glaucoma and seizures. The measure would also provide protection from arrest for anyone in possession of cannabis oil that was obtained from another state, as long as they have a recommendation from a physician. I feel that those with cancer, glaucoma and seizures should have access to cure.”