Dekalb County Voter’s Guide for June 9th PrimaryFile photo
After being postponed twice, the 2020 Georgia Primary Election is now scheduled to take place on June 9th. Early voting begins May 18th. The sheer amount of candidates and positions on the ballot can be overwhelming, so Decaturish has compiled a nonpartisan guide to help you make an informed decision in this unusual election year.
Click on the links below to jump to a specific section, or scroll through all sections below.
Read more of Decaturish’s election coverage at http://decaturishvotes.com.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Supreme Court of Georgia is the highest judicial power in the state. A Supreme Court of Georgia Justice is a nonpartisan position. Justices are elected in nonpartisan elections or appointed by the current governor. Two of the incumbent justices, Sarah Hawkins Warren and Charlie Bethel, are currently up for reelection. Both were appointed by former Governor Nathan Deal in 2018, and both face one opponent each.
To succeed Sarah Hawkins Warren:
Sarah Hawkins Warren
Justice Sarah Hawkins Warren was appointed to the Supreme Court of Georgia by Governor Nathan Deal and was sworn in on September 17, 2018. After receiving her J.D. magna cum laude from Duke University School of Law, Justice Warren served as a law clerk to then-Chief Judge J.L. Edmondson of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and to the Honorable Richard J. Leon of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. While residing in D.C. and practicing as a litigation partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP, she served as outside counsel to Georgia in Florida v. Georgia, No. 142 Original, which concerned the proper apportionment of the water of an interstate river basin.
In 2015, Warren returned to Georgia and began service in the Office of Attorney General Sam Olens as Deputy Solicitor General and Special Counsel for Water Litigation. In January 2017, she was appointed Solicitor General by Attorney General Chris Carr, and in that role served as the chief appellate lawyer for the State of Georgia and the primary constitutional law advisor to the Attorney General. As Solicitor General, Warren represented Georgia in multi-state litigation and in appeals before state and federal courts, including in an argument before the United States Supreme Court.
Hal Moroz is an attorney and counselor-at-law who has served as an assistant district attorney, a county judge, and a city chief judge within Georgia. According to his website, his practice in the law “has ranged from prosecuting criminals on behalf of the State of Georgia to representing American military veterans in courts up to and including the Supreme Court of the United States.” He is not currently in the private practice of law.
Moroz additionally describes himself on his website as a retired U.S. Army officer, a former faculty member of the Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, Florida and the State Bar of Georgia’s Institute for Continuing Legal Education for the education of attorneys, and further describes himself as a news and legal commentator and author. He notes that he has attended and graduated from The University of the District of Columbia School of Law, St. John’s University (Graduate Study in International Law & Diplomacy), and The Army War College, but does not include which degrees he received from where. He notes that he is against “judicial activism” and wishes to strictly adhere to the Constitution within his judicial practice.
To succeed Charlie Bethel:
Justice Charles Jones (“Charlie”) Bethel was appointed to the Supreme Court of Georgia on September 4, 2018 by Governor Nathan Deal. He previously served on the Georgia Court of Appeals, the state’s intermediate appellate court. Bethel also served on the U.S. Senate for four years. Justice Bethel also served on the Appropriations, Judiciary, Judiciary Non-civil, Retirement, Government Oversight, and Special Judiciary committees during his service in the Senate. In the legislature, he carried legislation on a broad array of topics. Among the high points of his legislative service, Justice Bethel counts his successful carriage of comprehensive juvenile justice reform legislation and autism insurance reform (commonly referred to as “Ava’s Law”) legislation. Bethel is a lifelong Georgian and earned both his business (BBA 1998) and law (JD 2001) degrees from the University of Georgia.
Elizabeth “Beth” Beskin
Beth Beskin has practiced law for thirty years. She is currently a partner at Freeman, Mathis & Gary. Previously, she served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Georgia Department of Law, Medicaid Fraud Division. She has spent a lifetime working in the business and civic world to better her community. During her career, Beth has practiced family law, insurance defense, ERISA litigation and various cases for the plaintiff as well as the defense. Beth served the legal community as a member of the Georgia Judicial Nomination commission from January 2019 through March 2020.
Beth was elected to serve as state representative for House District 54 in the Georgia General Assembly from 2015 to 2019. During the 2017-2018 legislative term, Beth served as the Chief Deputy Whip of the majority party. She served on the Georgia Commission on Child Support as well as on the Capitol Arts Standards Commission.
The members of the county Board of Education advocate for the needs and desires of the district they represent. Their responsibilities may include hiring or firing a superintendent, setting a yearly budget, approving contracts for teachers and outside vendors, and expanding the district or closing schools.
Candidate biography unavailable and the candidate did not respond to a request for comment.
David Manuel is a division manager of Recreation, Parks, and Cultural Affairs, an arts manager of Porter Sanford Performing Arts and Community Center, and a former educator in the Atlanta Public School System for 8 years. He also was a former community relations/project director for the Woodruff Arts Center for 20 years. He has been recognized for his education and nonprofit work by various organizations. He aims to inspire, ignite, and impact students by improving student achievement, re-establishing parent and community trust and involvement and increasing fiscal and operational efficiencies.
Willie R. Mosley, Jr.
Willie R. Mosley, Jr.’s campaign website highlights “the need for school improvements, including the implementation of after-school programs and summer school, more active involvement from parents, the upgrade of the education system, and many more.”
Mosley also recognizes that not all students will move on to higher education after high school, and believes in the value of students learning trade skills. He “plans to arrange for mentorship programs that will equip high school students with the necessary skills to land them a job in the technical field, like a position in the fire department for 9th to 12th graders.”
Dierdre Pierce states, “I am running for the District 3 School Board seat because I am passionate about education and its benefits; and am confident in my ability to listen, learn and lead – key components, among others, that I feel are needed to be a good Board member and stakeholder advocate.”
Her platform is focused on grade level preparedness, as well as college and career readiness, support for the District’s Family Engagement Department programs, particularly the free Adult GED program; to seek resolution to our teacher shortage, retention and in-school support concerns; expect accountability in all areas in accordance with the District Strategic Plan and provide support to the Superintendent and fellow Board members.
Judge Roderick Bridges is “an accomplished legal professional with over twenty-one years of legal experience, including thirteen years as a DeKalb County judge,” according to his campaign website. He is involved in a number of local organizations, including the Interfaith Children’s Movement, where he oversees their initiative to end human trafficking. He also serves in Lions Club International, 100 Black Men of DeKalb and DeKalb NAACP. He previously ran for Superior Court of the Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit in 2018 and did not win. He was the subject of some controversy in 2016 for listing Jesus Christ as an endorsement on his website, as well as for sending out a mailer that listed his own Christianity as positive trait, and his opponent Dax Lopez not being Christian as a negative trait.
Attorney Aaron Chausmer is a longtime resident of the city of Dunwoody and states that he is “running for Superior Court Judge because he is passionate about working in the court system to improve efficiency, increase transparency, reduce recidivism, and ensure that everyone who enters his courtroom is treated fairly and with dignity.” Aaron Chausmer has more than two decades of experience, with a background in commercial and business litigation. His areas of focus include competition-based matters, commercial and contract disputes, corporate governance issues, and labor and employment matters.
Vincent C. Crawford
Judge Vincent C. Crawford has served the citizens of DeKalb County for 25 years. He currently serves as Chief Judge of DeKalb County Juvenile Court for the Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit. For the last five years, Judge Crawford has been a member of the Georgia Criminal Justice Coordinating Council subcommittee on Youth Equity and Justice Reform. His work on the committee is to find ways to keep youth in the community as an alternative to incarceration.
Yolanda C. Parker-Smith
Attorney Yolanda Chavez Parker-Smith has been a public servant for more than two decades. Originally from Jacksonville, Florida, she earned her Associates’ Degree, Business Administration Bachelor of Science Degree, and Juris Doctorate from the University of Florida. She is an active member of both the Florida Bar and the Georgia Bar. Parker-Smith has resided in Dekalb County for more than 17 years and previously served as an Assistant District Attorney in Fulton County Juvenile Court. She then pivoted to defense counsel and has served as Senior Attorney within the Atlanta Judicial Circuit Office of the Public Defender’s Office since 2010.
Melinda “Mindy” Pillow
Mindy Pillow is an attorney specializing in family law. Prior to founding her own firm, Mindy was an associate with Kilpatrick, Townsend & Stockton, LLP in Atlanta, Georgia and then Davis Matthews and Quigley, P.C. in Atlanta, Georgia. At Kilpatrick Townsend, she was the 2010 Pro Bono Associate of the Year and focused her pro bono work on assisting lower income clients with family law issues, including adoption and child custody. At Davis Matthews & Quigley, P.C., Mindy practiced exclusively in the area of Domestic Relations and Family Law. Pillow emphasizes on her website that “while many people see the role of the court merely in terms of criminal charges, the DeKalb Superior Court functions in many other capacities,” and that Superior Court Justices “preside over cases including divorce, legitimation, child support, name changes, and more.”
William Haston is running for Congress to, in his words, make a difference for working families in his community. Haston strives to break down the barriers that exist in jobs, housing, education and healthcare. His website states that he “will fight for policies that get money out of our political system and combat income and wealth inequality. That means pursuing aggressive policies like Medicare for All, tuition-free public college, higher wages, and above all a Green New Deal.”
Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (Incumbent)
Now in his seventh term in the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia’s Fourth Congressional District – which encompasses parts of DeKalb, Gwinnett and Newton counties and all of Rockdale County – Congressman Hank Johnson has distinguished himself as a substantive, effective lawmaker and a leading national progressive voice. In 2017 at the launch of the 115th Congress, Rep. Johnson landed a coveted seat on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee (T&I).
Rep. Johnson has passed legislation that protects consumers and citizens’ civil liberties including the Arbitration Fairness Act (AFA) and the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act. As a champion for digital inclusion and an open Internet, Rep. Johnson has pushed to empower low-income and minority communities through digital rights, broadband access, and equality of opportunity online as ranking member of the subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law (RRCAL). In 2018, Rep. Johnson was elected by his peers to lead the Judiciary Subcommittee – Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet. The subcommittee has jurisdiction over the administration of U.S. Courts, federal rules of evidence, civil and appellate procedure, judicial ethics, patent, copyright and trademark law, information technology and the Internet.
Elaine Amankwah Nietmann
Elaine Amankwah Nietmann immigrated from Ghana as a child and grew up in the United States She earned a degree in political science and economics, and graduated from law school in 2011. When her second-born son was diagnosed with autism, she witnessed firsthand the shortcomings of the healthcare system and special education federal programs in addressing his needs. She learned that the private sector referrals were often expensive, contained long waiting lists, and had short day schedules that were not conducive to the schedules of most full or part-time working parents. Elaine’s experience with advocating for her son with special needs, while working as a public defender, guardian ad litem, and family law attorney in GA’s Congressional District 4 has motivated her to run for public office to become your next congresswoman.
It may seem puzzling as to why anyone would run against John Lewis, one of the most well-known U.S. Representatives and a notable civil rights activist who participated in Freedom Rides, sit-in protests, and helped organize the March on Washington, among other achievements. Lewis’ opponent, Barrington D. Martin II, strays further left from Lewis, and states on his very active Twitter account that he has nothing but “total honor and reverence” for Lewis, but “times are different, new battles are on the horizon, and […] a legend of his stature should not die in the seat.” John Lewis announced he was undergoing treatment for Stage IV pancreatic cancer in late December 2019. Barrington also addresses the significance of running against John Lewis in a post on his website entitled “The Elephant in the Room.”
Martin has also criticized Lewis for not doing enough recently to help District 5 progress, and argues that Lewis’ legacy as a civil rights activists overshadows “the reality that is his congressional record.”
John R. Lewis (incumbent)
Often called “one of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement ever produced,” John Lewis has dedicated his life to protecting human rights, securing civil liberties, and building what he calls “The Beloved Community” in America. His dedication to the highest ethical standards and moral principles has won him the admiration of many of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the United States Congress. John Lewis’ mission and view on the issues are discussed in length on his website at https://johnlewis.house.gov/issues.
Barrington D. Martin II
Barrington D. Martin II, who is 32, was born and raised in Atlanta, GA. On his website, he writes that he “has seen the changes that the city of Atlanta has undergone, and although he appreciates the progress of the city, he believes that there’s still so much work to be done.” He is an alumnus of the Atlanta Bar summer internship program and graduated from Georgia State University with a BA in Political Science. His platform includes universal guaranteed income, “trickle-up economics,” universal healthcare, a leftist take on the 2nd Amendment (against “the militarization of police and increased use of excessive force”), legalization of marijuana, enforcing term limits on every elected position, sustainability and agriculture, and election integrity.
Members of the Georgia State Senate serve two-year terms and are not subject to term limits. Georgia state senators represent an average of 172,994 residents.
Emanuel Jones (incumbent)
Senator Emanuel Jones was first elected to the Georgia Senate from Georgia’s 10th District in 2004. Senator Jones represents Southwest DeKalb and Henry County. He is the current Chairman of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Advisory Council and formerly served as Chairman of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus for two consecutive legislative sessions. Senator Jones is a member of the following Senate Committees:
Banking & Financial Institutions- Member
Economic Development & Tourism- Secretary
Interstate Cooperation- Secretary
Special Judiciary- Vice-Chairman
Candidate biography unavailable and the candidate did not respond to a request for comment.
Gil Freeman states that family and community are his priorities, and specifically lists himself as an “advocate for children of divorced and unwed parents to have access to both parents and both sides of their family.” His focus is on family law reform, but he also supports affordable housing, voter protection, criminal justice reform, reproductive health, education, immigration, and healthcare.
Mohammad Jahangir Hoissan
Mohammad Hossain is an entrepreneur and real estate developer who immigrated to the US from Bangladesh in 1997. He holds a degree from Dhaka City College. Hossain volunteers for the Darusalaam Masjid and Georgia Islamic Institute and emphasizes the importance of immigrants in the community. He also supports Medicare for All, education and vocational training, transportation, affordable housing, and pledges to donate half of his salary to feed students in need.
Kim Jackson describes herself as an Episcopal priest from the rural South. She has lived in Georgia for a decade. After graduating from Furman University in South Carolina, Jackson volunteered as an EMT, then earned her Master’s of Divinity from Emory’s Candler School of Theology, where she advocated for criminal justice reform. Reverend Jackson currently serves as the Vicar at the Episcopal Church of the Common Ground, where she “co-creates Church with people who are unhoused in downtown Atlanta.” She wants to create a “safer, fairer, and more prosperous Georgia” using her platform, which includes protecting voting rights, gun safety, prioritizing clean energy, education reform, Medicaid expansion, creating a comprehensive anti-discrimination bill, reproductive health and maternal mortality, and more. Jackson would be Georgia’s first LGBTQ+ state senator.
Beverly R. Jones
Candidate biography unavailable and the candidate did not respond to a request for comment.
Gail Davenport (incumbent)
Gail Davenport is a community leader, civil rights activist and humanitarian. Ms. Davenport serves as the State Senator for the 44th District of Georgia, which includes portions of Clayton County and Henry County. Senator Davenport serves on the following committees: Veterans, Military and Homeland Security; Urban Affairs; State Institutions and Property; Secretary of Special Judiciary; and Interstate Cooperation –Vice Chairman. She is a member of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, Georgia Legislative Women’s Caucus, Working Families Agenda Caucus, WILL/Women Legislators’ Lobby, National Black Caucus of State Legislators, National Organization of Black Elected Legislators, and the Vice Chairman of the Clayton County Legislative Delegation.
Myah Johnson was born in Atlanta, Georgia. She has resided in Clayton County, Georgia, for the majority of her life. Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree from Georgia State University in 2006 with a major in political science and a minor in sociology. Johnson’s career experience includes working as a compliance manager and as a senior constituents services representative with federal, state, legislative, and campaign experience.
State Representative in the General Assembly
Becky Evans (incumbent)
Representative Becky Evans began her political career at Emory University and has lived with her husband and children in Dekalb County for 29 years. She has dedicated her life to servant leadership and has served her community in many roles: nonprofit co-founder, political aide, volunteer, advocate, and mother. Her community values include healthy and safe neighborhoods, ethical and transparent government, access to economic opportunity, expanded public transit, quality and affordable healthcare, and strong schools.
Audrey Maloof is a community organizer who has lived in the district for her whole life. While attending Georgia State University, she worked in the District Office of Congressman John Lewis as well as County Commissioner Nancy Jester. In Fall 2019, Maloof served as a Voter Protection and Legal Fellow at Fair Fight Action, an organization founded by Stacey Abrams to combat voter suppression. Her platform emphasizes pro-choice legislation, environmental infrastructure, gun reform, public schools, criminal justice reform, and voting rights.
Harmel “Mel” Codi
Harmel Codi describes herself on her website as “a mother, a corporate executive, a business development expert, an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, and a dedicated community advocate.” She has lived in Dekalb County for 22 years. Codi values “integrity, transparency, and honesty in government” and is “frustrated that so many policy discussions devolve into, and get characterized as, race issues. DeKalb County will not prosper if those who are elected to lead it actually fracture it by stoking racial division.” Her platform includes enhancing public education, crime and public safety policies that promote active neighborhood watch and enhance police presence, training and job skills, good-paying job creation, affordable housing, affordable health insurance, small business support, and mass transit.
Renitta Shannon (incumbent)
Renitta Shannon has served in the Georgia State House of Representatives since January 2017, representing the 84th district. Representative Shannon utilizes her impactful public platform to fight stigmas and create legislation for marginalized communities. Her experience in community organizing work around economic, racial, and gender justice equipped her to serve in the Georgia State House of Representatives. Renitta Shannon advocates for abortion access and has spoken about her personal abortion story on national platforms. She is also openly bisexual, making her the first openly bisexual legislator to serve in the Georgia General Assembly. Her platform includes a $15 minimum living wage, Medicaid expansion, ending mass incarceration and holding police officers accountable, women’s equality (including reproductive rights), and LGBTQ+ equality in Georgia.
Ladena Bolton, a forensic chemist, wants to help restore education, justice and community in DeKalb County and across the state of Georgia. She has been a resident of Dekalb County since childhood. Her platform includes improving access to education, fixing the broken public safety system, and securing quality affordable housing initiatives.
Michele Henson (incumbent)
A resident of the Flintridge Forrest neighborhood in DeKalb County for 36 years, Michele Henson has been serving her community in elected office for over two decades. Michele has managed and owned several businesses in DeKalb County, including a dental office and a custom framing company.
In the legislature, Michele has been a fierce advocate for children and families. Michele voted for the creation of the Georgia Pre-K program and continues to fight for its funding every year. Michele was also instrumental in getting children’s dental insurance included in the Peach Care program, ensuring that children across Georgia have access to needed dental care.
Zulma Lopez, an immigration attorney, has raised her family in Dekalb County for the past 12 years, after immigrating from Puerto Rico. Her website states that she is fueled by compassion and she believes in the value of her constituents. Her platform includes ensuring access to quality education, affordable healthcare, and economic opportunities for small businesses.
Joscelyn C. O’Neil
Joscelyn C. O’Neil began her career in the school system of Little Rock, Arkansas, then relocated to Dekalb County, where she provided a daycare program in her home, then worked as a media clerk within the Dekalb County School System. O’Neil is now retired. O’Neil has advocated for better conditions in her community throughout her career, participating in Dekalb County’s Code Enforcement Task Force, Greater Towers Community Neighborhood Watch Coordinator, and partnered with DeKalb County Parks and Recreation to create a summer camp program.
Bee Nguyen (incumbent)
Bee Nguyen has served in the Georgia State House of Representatives since 2017 and was the first Vietnamese-American elected to the position. Nguyen founded a nonprofit to educate and empower girls in under-resourced schools, and advocates for women and girls, communities of color, and refugee families. Nguyen has served as a senior fellow for Fair Fight Action and advocates for fair voting rights in Georgia. Her platform also includes equal pay and reproductive justice for women, criminal legal reform and holding law enforcement accountable for use of force, funding for education, anti-discrimination legislation, livable wages, affordable and accessible healthcare and childcare, and gun safety.
Marcia Ridley is the current Spalding County elections supervisor.
Candidate biography unavailable and the candidate did not respond to a request for comment.
Greg Shealey is an entrepreneur in property management and development.
Candidate biography unavailable and the candidate did not respond to a request for comment.
Pam Stephenson (Incumbent)
Representative Pam Stephenson has been a resident of DeKalb County for over 20 years. She has served in the Georgia House of Representatives since 2005. She has worked to help children, seniors and others in need, particularly in the critical field of health care. Rep. Stephenson has a demonstrated record of more than 15 years of legal and government service. Presently, she is serving on the Code Revision, Health & Human Services, Intragovernmental Coordination and Judiciary committees of the House. Her dedication to the field of health care led to her appointment as the director of the State Health Planning Agency by former Governor Zell Miller. She was also appointed by the DeKalb County Commission as a trustee of Grady Health System. Former Governor Roy Barnes appointed Stephenson to the State Medical Education Board as well. Not only is she a successful attorney, but she has displayed her abilities in leadership through the successful creation of two businesses. She is a graduate of the Harvard University Government Program.
Stan Watson is a former Dekalb County Commissioner.
Candidate biography was unavailable.
Vernon Jones withdrew from the candidacy on April 23rd, making Rhonda S. Taylor the presumptive winner.
Dar’Shun Kendrick (incumbent)
Dar’shun Kendrick has represented House District 93, which includes East DeKalb and South Gwinnett, ever since being elected at the age of 27 in 2010. She was sworn into the House as the 2nd youngest member of the Georgia legislature in 2011. She was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia and has received degrees from Oglethorpe University, the University of Georgia School of Law, and Kennesaw State University. She current serves as the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Non-Civil (Criminal law) committee, the Juvenile Justice Committee, Interstate Cooperation Committee and the Small Business Development and Job Creation committee. She also serves as Chair of the Special Committee on HBCUs for the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus and co-chair of the Georgia Future Caucus, a bipartisan group made up of legislators under the age of 40. In 2018, her peers elected her as the Chief Deputy Whip for the House Democratic Caucus. In 2019, she was appointed to the Telecommunications, Science and Technology Committee for the National Black Caucus of State Legislators. Additionally, in 2019, she started the first Technology, Innovation & Entrepreneurship bipartisan caucus of the Georgia House of Representatives.
In 2016, she founded a non-profit, Minority Access to Capital, Inc., that educates and empowers minorities on how to access capital to grow their business and create generational wealth. In 2017, she was elected to the Technology Association of Georgia’s (TAG) Corporate Development Board. In addition, she was selected to be a contributor to Black Enterprise Magazine focused on economic justice issues. In 2017, she opened Kendrick Advisory & Advocacy Group, LLC, a law firm & consulting firm in the area of business expansion, policy & advocacy strategy and financial strategy and compliance.
Candidate biography unavailable and candidate did not respond to a request for comment.
Irvin J. Johnson (incumbent)
Irvin J. Johnson has served as tax commissioner since 2016. His goals for the upcoming term are to meet or exceed the fiduciary requirements for Dekalb’s businesses, achieve an annual customer service rating of 93% or better, maintain high ethical and accountability standards, and identify tax savings for eligible taxpayers. In 2017, Johnson was questioned, along with Fulton County’s tax commissioner for receiving a high salary, and declined to comment.
Roslyn Allison McCaskill
Roslyn Allison McCaskill is a social worker. McCaskill states that on her website that Dekalb County “deserves a Tax Commissioner who is innovative, understands customer care, accountable; and is committed to the future of our county.” She highlights having direct interpersonal skills with the community, and values attention to detail and communication. She was appointed to the Dekalb County Community Council, and is a member of the Dekalb chapter of Moms Demand Action and the progressive nonprofit WAND (Women’s Action for New Directions).
Maryam Ahmad is a public health professional and activist who was born and raised in DeKalb County. Her top priorities, if elected, would be to listen to her constituents, collaborate with all the commissioners in order to bring more transparency and integrity to the district, and expand public infrastructure in ways that are more representative of the long-term needs of the community. Ahmad supports lowering the overall tax rate to mitigate the economic hardships of COVID-19, supports hazard pay for essential workers during the pandemic, and supports the removal of downtown Decatur’s Confederate monument.
Emily Halevy has been an advocate for preserving our DeKalb neighborhoods and shaping them into vibrant, inclusive communities. After five years of fighting for safe neighborhoods across DeKalb County, she founded the Coalition for a Diverse DeKalb in 2018. Together, they support affordable housing initiatives for every generation and educate the public on the critical need for smart development in all parts of DeKalb County. Emily is also a board member of Project Community Connections, Inc. (PCCI), a nonprofit organization that places people experiencing homelessness in safe and affordable permanent housing.
Aside from affordable housing, her platform includes MARTA expansion, recruiting and retaining more public safety officers, a task force for public health emergency planning, improving the county’s business climate, and sustainability efforts that make economic sense.
As the former mayor of Clarkston, Ted successfully oversaw the implementation of a bold, progressive agenda including a $15 minimum wage for city employees, establishment of election day as a holiday, the decriminalization of simple marijuana possession, and a commitment for Clarkston to utilize 100 percent clean energy by 2050. Since being elected as the Mayor of Clarkston in 2013, Ted has worked as the Campaign Director for the Georgia AFL-CIO and most recently as the Director of the Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club. In addition to his other service, Ted currently serves on the advisory board for the Global Village Project and as a member of the Dekalb County Board of Health. His platform includes affordable housing, transit equity, climate action for Dekalb County, criminal justice reform (including ending cash bail, implementing civilian-led policing models, and ending ICE cooperation), and voting rights.
Additional information about the candidates for Dekalb County Sheriff can be found in this Decaturish story.
Champion retired from the Atlanta Police Department in 1993 after 27 years, serving first as a patrol officer, then in special operations, then robbery investigations, and finishing her career as a homicide investigator — the only black woman and one of only two women in that unit at the time.
Champion told Decaturish her priorities, if elected, were to improve the educational and job training opportunities for inmates at the jail and to root out the sources of corruption and graft that she claims still plague the department.
Adam Gardner’s platform for Sheriff’s Office includes increasing law enforcement presence by 25% in crime ridden areas in order to deter criminal activity, creating a Home Invasion Task Force and Crime Suppression Unit including free training for the public, establishing a three-part criminal justice reform plan that will revolutionize the incarceration industry and help individuals in custody, both before and after they are released, thereby resulting in responsible citizens who are good for the community, creating a thriving junior deputy program, creating a CItizen Review Board, and disrupting gang activity and preventing gang recruitment.
Ted Golden retired in January 2014 after 28 years of service to the United States Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). His platform includes elevating the Medical Director position to the executive level, implementing a human trafficking initative, creating an employee advisory board, and collaborating with local law enforcement.
Antonio “Block” Johnson
Antonio “Block” Johnson is the former Fulton County Marshal. His platform includes strengthening safety and security in the jail and courts, running th department with transparency, integrity, and fiscal responsibility, improving employee morale and community trust in Dekalb County Law Enforcement, providing full staffing in all department operations for the security and protection of guards, inmates, and the public, diverting youth from gang and criminal activity, and recruiting law enforcement candidates by offering incentives to live and work in DeKalb County.
Kyle “KK” Jones
Kyle Jones’ platform includes conducting a forensic audit on the Sheriff’s Office budget, ensuring that police officers build a culture of transparency, accountability, and respect, implementing sensitivity training and enhancing policies and procedures to help law enforcement develop better values to preserve human life, reducing the rate of recidivism and training law enforcement staff in areas like regional diversity, generational differences, technology, decision making and problem solving, ethics, interpersonal skills, leadership and management, and verbal and written communication skills.
Melody M. Maddox (Incumbent)
Melody Maddox is the current Sheriff of Dekalb County and a former police chief. Her top priorities are for the law enforcement of Dekalb County to embrace a culture of Excellence, Accountability and Respect, including in the ways in which the office carries out constitutional responsibilities, the way inmates are treated, and the way they interact with the community. Sheriff Maddox does not support 287(g), cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Maddox states that she will continue to connect inmates with needed services and employment opportunities and ensure they are treated with dignity and respect.
Carl Mobley’s platform includes collaboration between the Sheriff’s Office and local law enforcement, increasing programs that foster positive growth, community engagement to build mutual trust and respect, and re-instituting programs like Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).
Ruth “The Truth” Stringer
Ruth Stringer has a 30-year background working as a law enforcement officer and as Sheriff. Her current priorities, if elected, include adding a merit system, eliminating the mold issue within Dekalb County Jail, allowing people to visit the jail 24 hours a day, shift differential pay for officers working evening watch, “better locks to prevent inmates from getting out of their cells,” adding mandatory annual defense tactics training for officers to protect themselves, and improving the overall image of the Sheriff’s Office to rebuild the community’s trust.
In February, there were concerns about possible corruption in her previous position.
Here is the most recent election update from DeKalb County:
Update on General Primary Election and Absentee Ballots
DECATUR, Ga.– On Thursday, April 9, 2020, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger postponed the May 19, 2020, presidential preference primary, special election, general primary and general nonpartisan election to June 9, 2020.
All votes previously cast in the 2020 presidential preference primary/special election originally scheduled for March 24, 2020, will be counted on June 9, 2020.
Voters who have previously cast ballots in the presidential preference primary / special election originally scheduled for March 24, 2020, will receive a ballot that contains the races for the June 9, 2020, general primary and general nonpartisan election only.
Voters who have not yet cast a ballot in the 2020 presidential preference primary/special election will receive a ballot that contains both the presidential preference primary/special election races and the General Primary and general nonpartisan election races.
On Monday, March 30, 2020, the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office mailed absentee ballot applications to all registered active voters in the state.
Applications requesting a ballot for May 19, 2020, will be processed as requesting a ballot for the June 9, 2020, election.
Completed applications must be received by the DeKalb County Voter Registration and Elections Office no later than 4 p.m. on Friday, June 5, 2020, and absentee ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on June 9, 2020. Uniformed and Overseas Citizens (UOCAVA) ballots must be postmarked by June 9, 2020, and received no later than Friday, June 12, 2020.
For more information, contact the DeKalb County Voter Registration and Elections Office at 404-298-4020.
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