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No black candidate for BoE in new minority district

6 in race for 2 BOE seats; McCarty and Brown face commission opposition

Adjusting to district voting is proving to be a challenge for both political parties in Fayette County.

By rule of a U.S. District Judge last May, the county was split up into 5 districts for voting purposes. Residents can only vote for one member each for the county commission and board of education instead of the previous shot at all five seats.

The change was approved after a successful lawsuit from the Fayette County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People arguing that no black person had ever been elected to either governing body. To remedy that, the court approved a majority-minority Post 5 district with a population of black voting age residents greater than 50 percent.

But only one black candidate qualified for election in the 5th district: Democrat Pota Coston, who is challenging incumbent Republican County Commissioner Allen McCarty.

No black resident qualified to run against school board Post 5 incumbent Democrat Leonard Presberg, who is white, though he will face a challenge in November from last-minute Republican qualifier Dean Dutton who filed his paperwork right at the noon deadline Friday.

The BoE Post 4 races are sure to be lively ones as well. Four Republicans and one Democrat qualified for the seat being vacated by incumbent Bob Todd. The four Republicans include Jane Owens, Diane Basham, John Kimbell and Mindy Fredrikson. The winner will face Democratic challenger Ogechi Oparah in the November general election since she is unopposed in the primary.

Oparah, 23, is a tutor and educational consultant who said she wants to build a platform of support to “build morale and strong relationships between the school system, business community and housing sector.”

A graduate of the school system, Oparah graduated from Princeton University recently.

“Making the best decisions for our school system is key to the economic health of our whole community,” Oparah said, adding that she wants to make sure the opportunities she had as a Fayette student are “preserved and expanded for future generations.”

There is another wrinkle to the five-member BoE in play, and that’s due to the resignation of Post 2 incumbent Mary Kay Bacallao, who is running for the state school superintendent’s position. Her vacant post will be appointed by the remaining four board members to fill the seat for the rest of her unexpired term.

Fayette County Post 3 Commissioner Steve Brown will seek re-election and is facing two challengers with a similar pedigree since all three were previously elected mayor in Peachtree City. Harold Logsdon and Don Haddix are seeking to oust Brown, who is in his second year as commission chairman, a position voted on by all five board members. This race will be settled in the May primary as no Democrats qualified for office.

The trio has an electoral history. Logsdon beat Brown for the Peachtree City mayor’s slot eight years ago, and both Logsdon and Haddix were losers in the most recent Peachtree City mayor’s race.

Incumbent Superior Court Judge Chris Edwards will be re-elected to a new four-year term as no candidates qualified to run against him in the four-county Griffin Judicial Circuit, which includes Fayette, Spalding, Pike and Upson counties.

At the state level, seven Republicans are seeking the 16th District Senate seat being vacated by Tyrone resident Ronnie Chance. Local homebuilder Bob Barnard, attorney David Studdard, project manager Erik Manning, pilot Gil Williams, attorney James Clifton, insurance agent Marty Harbin and attorney Bill Johnston have qualified for the seat. No Democrats qualified for the post so the winner will be determined in the May primary.

Studdard, an attorney and former police officer for the City of Atlanta, said his top priority is fighting Obamacare.

“My position is to repeal it, and I will work with our congressmen and senators to move in that direction,” Studdard said. “Anything less would be a disservice to my voters.”

Studdard said he is a pro-life, pro-second amendment conservative.

Manning is a project manager in the telecommunications and information technology field. He said he will draw on his experience in the Navy, where he spent six years as a nuclear reactor operator.

“I wish to continue my service to protect and defend our Constitution as a state senator, representing the people of the 16th district,” Manning said.

Manning has been active in the local Republican Party, the American Legion Post 105 and is the past president of the Kiwanis Club of Fayette County.

Williams is a Delta pilot and also serves as a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. He also served as a Presidential airlift pilot and as the Joint Chiefs of Staff Liaison to the United Nations.

“I believe this is a critical time for our state and our nation,” Williams said, adding that he brings proven leadership experience and a commitment to service, honor and conservative family values.

Incumbents District 64 Democrat Virgil Fludd and District 63 Democrat Ronnie Mabra are unopposed, as are District 72 Republican Matt Ramsey and District 73 Republican John Yates.

A name familiar to some residents has qualified to oppose sitting Attorney General Sam Olens. Jonesboro attorney Greg Hecht represented a portion of Fayette County during the 1990s and qualified as a Democrat.

Hecht, who served four years as an assistant district attorney in Clayton County and also served in the Georgia legislature, said he wants to address problems with the Department of Family and Children Services since the attorney general’s office is responsible for preparing DFCS workers to testify in court to protect children from abuse.

“The Attorney General needs to be an experienced prosecutor committed to leading the charge against public corruption, regardless of party. We have to take politics out of the office, roll up our sleeves, and provide the checks and balances for all Georgians to be protected from corruption and abuse,” Hecht said.

At the federal level, two-term District 3 Representative Lynn Westmoreland will face a primary challenge from fellow Republican C.E. “Chip” Flanegan, who came in third four years ago in an attempt to unseat the congressman. No Democrat qualified for this race so the winner will be determined in the May primary.

District 13 Congressman David A. Scott drew a Democratic challenger in Michael C. Owens, a senior program manager from Mableton. No Republican qualified for office so the race will be settled in the May primary.

Candidates who have not yet submitted their candidacy information are asked to email their information to editor@TheCitizen.com for a brief summary to be included in an upcoming story. All candidates are also urged to email their contact information and a recent high-resolution photo to us also.

[CORRECTION: The name of Post 4 Board of Education candidate Mindy Fredrikson was misspelled in the above story. The correct spelling is now in the story.]

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