Cupid says it’s time for a change
by Geoff Folsom
August 16, 2012 01:01 AM | 4584 views | 7 7 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lisa Cupid easily outdistanced incumbent Woody Thompson in the primary election but didn’t get the 50 percent plus one vote to win outright. <br> Photo by Jon-Michael Sullivan
Lisa Cupid easily outdistanced incumbent Woody Thompson in the primary election but didn’t get the 50 percent plus one vote to win outright.
Photo by Jon-Michael Sullivan
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SOUTHWEST COBB — Lisa Cupid said she is running to replace southwest Cobb Commissioner Woody Thompson because the area needs better representation.

“There are so many groups that feel like he should have been more engaged, much more active to address the issues that were going on in the district,” she said. “At the very least, he should have been having more town hall meetings.”

While 40 percent of voters picked her as part of a six-person field in the July 31 Democratic primary, compared to Thompson’s 27 percent, Cupid had to go to a runoff because she didn’t receive 50 percent plus one vote. The winner of the runoff is expected to serve as the only Democrat on the Board of Commissioners because no Republican qualified to run.

The Michigan native came to the area to attend Georgia Tech, where she earned an engineering degree. Along with raising two young children with her husband, Craig, she is now attending Georgia State University, where she plans to graduate in December with graduate degrees in law and public administration. She has lived in south Cobb since 2002.

While she hoped to win in the primary, Cupid said the six-person field made that unlikely. But she understood why so many people wanted to challenge Thompson, who regained the seat in 2008 after serving from 1997 to 2005 as a Republican.

“A lot of people were just really fed up with the level of representation that we had,” she said. “Regardless of whether they had a political background, regardless of whether or not they had political aspirations, just a number of people felt they could do better.”

Thompson last hosted a town hall meeting in September 2011. Since then, all the other members of the Board of Commissioners have hosted at least three such meetings.

Thompson has touted his experience in county government, as compared to political newcomer Cupid. But Cupid said there are items she brings to the table, as well.

“Experience is significant. Diversity of experiences is also significant and shouldn’t be undermined,” she said. “Having a lot of years on the commission board does not equate to having a lot of results or being effective. I think that people want to see more results.”

Cupid bristled when told that Thompson said she could have a difficult time balancing being a parent with serving as commissioner.

“I dare he tell any working mother out there she is too busy to be effective on her job,” Cupid said. “That is a slap in the face, and I don’t think that should be accepted by anyone here who has a family, particularly a working mother ... While I was in school, I worked, I had children, I was very involved in my community and was more visible than he was. So what was Woody’s excuse?”

Cupid said some of the changes south Cobb needs are “low-hanging fruit,” such as keeping medians mowed and cleaning up vacant properties, but others are more complex, like finding ways to improve areas the county has identified for redevelopment.

One issue facing the county is whether to expand its IMAGE program, which county commissioners approved by a 5-0 vote on May 22. IMAGE requires the county to open its records so federal officials can check to see if illegal immigrants are on its payroll. Some say the county needs to expand the program to include the hundreds of contractors it deals with.

While Cupid, who said she has relatives who would like to come into the country but can’t, sympathizes with illegal immigrants, she said the IMAGE program simply ensures the county is following the law.

“Even though my heart is very sensitive to people who have come to this country to try to make a better living and have paid the sacrifice of separation, I am also sensitive to the legal nature of immigration,” she said. “You have to be legal to do business with the county. It’s not a bad thing for us to want to do things in a legal manner, that’s not taking away from us wanting to be sensitive to our Hispanic population.”

On transportation issues, Cupid sees roads in south Cobb that are in desperate need of repair, but said transit must also be addressed in the area as well. She would like to see the county reinstate bus routes 35 and 70 that it cut to meet budget constraints, even if it were only done during peak hours or using smaller vans.

“Even though the TSPLOST did not pass, it doesn’t mean there still is not opportunity to fund those projects,” she said.

She gave the example of a man she met who walks an hour and a half to the bus stop each day, then takes the bus for another hour and a half to work.

“He can live in Chattanooga and get to work faster than he can living here in the county, and I think that is unacceptable,” she said.

Cupid also advocates extending MARTA’s east-west rail line into south Cobb to serve a large park-and-ride lot at Six Flags.

“You are talking about people travelling from downtown Atlanta, who don’t even have to get into a car, to enjoy what I think is Georgia’s best tourist attraction, which is Six Flags amusement park,” she said. “Having MARTA go out there can be an economic engine for tourism and for employment.”

While Cupid would be the only black member of the Board of Commissioners, as well as the only Democrat, she would be in at least one majority: Should she win, Cobb would have a majority-female Board of Commissioners, with Cupid joining current Commissioners Helen Goreham and JoAnn Birrell.

According to the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia, only Baldwin County, where Milledgeville is located, has a majority-female commission, though Heard County, southwest of Atlanta, has three men and three women, and Walker County, near Chattanooga, has a woman as its only commissioner.

“That is really significant,” she said. “People think of Cobb County as really conservative, and I think, ‘Look at how far Cobb County would come if there were three women on the board.’”

Candidates have until Friday to file their campaign finance reports. As of Wednesday, Cupid had not, and said she didn’t know how much money she had raised.

She plans to follow the election results Tuesday at her campaign headquarters in downtown Austell.
Comments
(7)
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kenny g
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August 20, 2012
please vote content of character and not color of skin.
WaitWhat
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August 17, 2012
Thompson was the swing vote in the millage rate increase last year, which insured that many county services would not be shuttered. He did this after listening to South Cobb residents plead their case. Yes, sooner or later he's going to be replaced, but to say that he hasn't been listening is just silly, or campaign rhetoric, or both.
vfp42
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August 16, 2012
Can't we do like up north and run our own Jersey Transit? Oh wait no we can't because some of it would be in Fulton County and we would vote it down. To vote it up, it must only go in circles inside Cobb County. How about a train from Cumberland to Town Center? YAY!
Just Wait
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August 16, 2012
If you really believe that MARTA would end congestion on I-20, you have no idea of the traffic patterns. Most of the I-20 traffic is from outside Cobb County and if they wanted to ride MARTA, they would stop at the Hightower station. But they don't. This line would only bring more thugs from the west end of Atlanta to the Six Flags area. I do believe they have enough already. Cupid is throwing up pipe dreams about all she can do for south Cobb. It will take her too long to learn the job to accomplish anything. As for everyone who highlights Gwinnette for all it's growth, ask how much they have given away in tax income to get it. And with all the criminal activity in their government, they are a poor example.
A Little Confused
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August 16, 2012
So you think that everyone who travels on I-20 would stop at Hightower station? I have to disagree but since there is not currently a MARTA station there I cannot see getting into a debate over something that does not exist. But, it is also interesting that your threat of "thugs" is more than enough to continue to leave others stranded on Six Flags Drive and other portions of the county. Also you bring up the learning curve that Lisa will have to undergo in order to effectively learn the position. Woody has been in the position for over 12 years and has not offered real solutions to improve South Cobb. I believe that was the point of the person(s) who pointed out growth in Gwinnette. In one of the meet the candidates forums, another candidate said it best - Six Flags Drive received sidewalks while East cobb received a rail stop. No one is saying that electing Lisa will solve all of our problems or she will not have unique problems of her own to deal with in a new position. However I think that it is more than fair to want leadership with a vision and new ideas to solve some really old and persistant problems. Heck according to Woody more than half of the people in the US do not have time to perform jobs because we are mothers too.
jals
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August 16, 2012
MARTA to Six Flags? Seriously? I can't think of a worse idea.
Just Saying
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August 16, 2012
In places outside of the Atlanta metro region, where leadership is serious about correcting traffic problems and creating real solutions the transit system travels to and from various parts of the region. In this area, that would include bringing MARTA out to Six Flags area, the East West Connector and many other locations in the district where transportation is at a deficit. Just imagine how "unclogged" I-20 would be if MARTA was a reality for those living not only in South Cobb but also Douglasville. The amount of jobs as well as income that would and could come to the county by a reliable form of transportation is mindblowing.
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