Lisa Cupid of Austell, one of five challengers to current Commissioner Woody Thompson in Tuesday’s Democratic Primary, encouraged Cobb residents to file a lawsuit challenging the results of the transportation referendum if Cobb’s vote goes differently than the rest of the 10-county metro Atlanta area, but said it shouldn’t be up to the county to do so.
“As we’ve learned by watching the national debate on health care, it takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of money and it takes a lot of effort to go to court,” said Cupid, who has worked as an engineer and policy analyst. “And when things don’t work out in your favor, that’s time that could have been spent working on local issues.”
Thompson, a Mableton resident seeking his fourth overall term representing District 4, said the TSPLOST referendum, to be held in conjunction with the primaries, will be a squeaker.
“I’ve sat here and watched what we’ve been able to do with one penny (sales tax), it’s incredible — the East-West Connector for example,” he said. “I’ve wrestled with it just like a lot of people have. I don’t like all of it, but if it does not pass Tuesday, it will not be two years, it will be four years (until it is on the ballot again). The incumbent governor is not going to let a vote happen (before an election) … The federal government and the state of Georgia are going to give us less and less, so we’re going to have to make it work on our own.”
Michael Rhett of Marietta doubted whether any of the jobs coming from the TSPLOST would go to southwest Cobb residents. He also questioned the county’s cutting of bus routes last year, saying that 19 houses were abandoned last year because occupants moved away because they had no transportation.
“Most of the jobs will probably go to out-of-state contractors, but one thing we need to address is the transportation issue,” said Rhett, an educator. “They took away the bus routes, but they’re able to find money for a CCT transit station to inform senior citizens about its services and house buses. So we need to talk with them about how this TSPLOST is going to materialize in our community, because in south Cobb, that is where you have the most bus riders.”
Connie Taylor of Powder Springs, a grants compliance director with the city of Atlanta, reminded the 20 people in attendance that 15 percent of Cobb’s $984 million project list was set aside for local projects submitted by commissioners, or about $35 million per district.
“We will get some jobs here if it passes, but if it does not pass here in Cobb County, and it passes regionally, we have to remember that only our constituents have the say in that,” she said.
Ruth Negron of Powder Springs said it is important to pray for insight and guidance on the issue.
“This is a very important vote for our future of transportation in our district,” she said. “I don’t think all the details are clear … If it is not approved, I think we have to sit down. We have department heads with detailed information. We need to get the exact information because there’s so much they say.”
Monica DeLancy, who lives on Six Flags Drive, said she is hearing pushback from residents on the TSPLOST issue.
“If majority wins, we have to respect the process,” she said. “But what I have been trying to educate my residents about, is coming out to these meetings and forums, so they can voice their concerns, as well. I am only one person bringing this issue back, so I need people to say, ‘This is how we’d like the money to be spent.’”
The commission candidate discussion took up the first 45 minutes of the Cobb Democratic Party forum, held in the same meeting room at the county administration building where one of the six candidates will serve starting in January. Because no Republican qualified for the southwest Cobb place on the Board of Commissioners, the winner of the Democratic Primary is expected to take the seat.
The same is true for the winner of the Post 3 position on the Cobb school board. Incumbent board member David Morgan of Austell faced off with challengers Dr. Bobby Allen of Powder Springs and Karyn Harrison of Mableton Thursday evening.
Cobb Democratic Chairwoman Melissa Pike read candidates questions submitted on note cards by audience members.
Morgan was asked about a flyer his campaign sent out that claimed he was involved in securing $50,000 to help start the STEM Inventors Academy, despite denying involvement in the project earlier this year.
Morgan said he was responding to a group of parents who were asking for help starting the school, and he merely put them in contact with the state in order to help the school secure federal Race to the Top funds.
“I was merely a facilitator of the meetings,” Morgan said. “That epitomizes what we deserve in our area.”
Allen was asked what he proposes to do to improve the quality of instruction and close the learning gap. The educator said he has spent six years studying schools that receive Title I funding.
“I’ve developed programs that have specifically addressed learning problems, learning achievement gaps within schools and within districts,” he said. “I look forward to working here with Cobb, implementing some of the things I’ve learned through many years of study and research and addressing the learning gap here.”
Harrison was asked how her hours of volunteering in the classroom make her qualified for the school board position. She said she had been in classrooms as a room monitor, a worker, on parent-teacher associations and has been on field trips.
“I’m just involved with the schools, where I feel like I’ve been in the trenches,” she said. “I understand the students’ point of view. I understand the teachers’ point of view and I understand the administration’s point of view. And that’s why I feel that I’m qualified to transition into this position.”
With no opposition until the November general election, school board member Alison Bartlett and Congressional candidate Patrick Thompson, a Roswell sales manager who is seeking the seat currently held by Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta), also took questions from Pike. Kennesaw business consultant Jeff Kazanow, a challenger for the seat belonging to U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-Roswell) also took questions. He will face Roswell business owner Robert Montigel, who didn’t attend the forum, in Tuesday’s primary.
Others to attend the forum included State Court Judge candidate Marsha Lake, Superior Court Judge candidate Van Pearlberg and District Attorney candidate Vic Reynolds.