Cobb NAACP to have forum tonight
by Emily Boorstein
July 17, 2014 04:00 AM | 1768 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Going into the final days before Tuesday’s runoff, one local candidate says he wants answers from his opponent, while another says something she said at a debate has been taken out of context.

Both may get their say at a forum tonight sponsored by the Cobb NAACP.

Confirmed attendees include candidates running to replace Cobb Superior Court Judge Jim Bodiford and Commissioner Helen Goreham, according to the organization’s president, Deane Bonner. Valarie Wilson, a Democrat running for state school superintendent, will also attend, Bonner said.

The forum is 7 to 9 p.m. at the Board of Commissioners’ meeting room on Cherokee Street in Marietta. It will be moderated by Kennesaw State University assistant professor Earl H. “Doc” Holliday and broadcast on Cobb’s public access Channel 23.

“We have got to realize politics is local. You need to vote for people who are going to impact your lives,” Bonner said. “There’s an opportunity for us to hear what candidates are going to do within our communities.”

Commission candidate and former chairman Bill Byrne says he’s looking forward to following up with his opponent, Bob Weatherford, on a proposed bus rapid transit route that would connect Kennesaw State University to Midtown Atlanta.

Weatherford called for the BRT to be paid for on a referendum other than the proposed special purpose local option sales tax vote this fall.

Byrne says Weatherford hasn’t specified how the BRT’s operational costs would be paid for.

“Last year, CCT required a $12 million subsidy for operational purposes,” Byrne said. “If the BRT was approved, Cobb is going to have to increase property taxes for the subsidy.”

Senior Assistant District Attorney Ann Harris, who is running for Cobb Superior Court judge, said she wants to set the record straight about what she said during another candidate forum regarding 17-year-olds who’ve been through the juvenile justice system.

She says some media outlets have seized on her comments about the teens being “future felons of America.”

Harris said she was specifically talking about 17-year-olds, who are treated by the state as adults in the court system, “who are engaging in dangerous criminal behavior. It’s sad and depressing and frustrating to see them after they’ve come through the juvenile justice system.”

Her opponent, Cobb Juvenile Court Judge Juanita Stedman, said she was “very disappointed in that comment,” and emphasized “it’s never too late for someone to turn their life around.”

“I do a family drug court that has convicted felons in there who’ve been transferred to me, and I’ve seen some of them” (change for the better), Stedman said. “You see a lot of people who don’t do that, but you see a lot of people who do.”

Harris said the district attorney’s office looks at each case on its merits — including the nature of the offense, the defendant’s criminal history, the strength of the evidence and other factors in the defendant’s favor.

“On many occasions,” Harris said, “I’ve been the one to suggest to the defense attorney, ‘Let’s get your client in an alternative program (such as drug court or pretrial diversion), so they don’t wind up with a felony on their record.’”

Candidates at tonight’s forum will not be able to ask each other questions, Bonner said, and she wanted to remind registered voters they can vote next week, even if they did not vote in the May 20 primary.

“There is absolutely no reason for anybody not to vote because we all have that right,” Bonner said. “Some paid the ultimate price to vote.”

IF YOU GO …

WHAT: Cobb NAACP political forum for runoff candidates

WHEN: Tonight, 7 to 9 p.m.

WHERE: Cobb Board of Commissioners’ meeting room, 100 Cherokee St. Marietta

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