Benfield to Leave Legislature, Was Paired with Incumbent

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By Shane Patrick Cunningham, Special to The Atlanta Progressive News.  

(APN) ATLANTA — State Rep. Stephanie Stuckey Benfield (D-Decatur) announced on February 22, 2012, that she would not be running for reelection this year and that she would begin serving as Executive Director of GreenLaw.

Benfield is one of twelve Democratic legislators, in addition to eight Republican legislators, who were redistricted into a new State House district where they would have to run against an incumbent of the same party.  

Every ten years, in the election year following the taking of the US Census, the majority party in Georgia that year gets to redraw political districts at the state level according to population and demographic changes.

Benfield had been paired to run against State Rep. Howard Mosby (D-Atlanta).

Benfield told Atlanta Progressive News in an interview that she discussed her decision with Mosby.

Of course, she said, many factors played in the decision, but the prospect of running against her longtime friend Mosby was certainly not an incentive to stay.

Benfield said her main concern was the need to generate greater income to help support her child who is entering kindergarten.

Benfield has consistently been one of the strongest progressive Members in the legislature, and one of the most active in terms of attending rallies and protests for progressive causes.  While a strong supporter of the Democratic Party, she has been supportive of ballot access for independents and minor parties.

The other five pairs of Democratic incumbents include State Reps. Simone Bell (D-Atlanta) and Ralph Long (D-Atlanta); Ely Dobbs (D-Atlanta) and Sheila Jones (D-Atlanta); Pat Gardner (D-Atlanta) and Rashad Taylor (D-Atlanta); Elena Parent (D-Atlanta) and Scott Holcomb (D-Atlanta); and Mack Jackson (D-Sandersville) and Sistie Hudson (D-Sparta).

These candidates have not announced their intentions yet.  However, May 25, 2012, at 12pm, is the deadline for a Political Party Candidate to file a Declaration of Candidacy to have his or her name placed on the General Primary ballot for 2012.

At GreenLaw, Benfield will be replacing Justine Thompson.  Thompson is moving to Florida to be with her family but will continue on at GreenLaw as a staff attorney, focusing her efforts on reducing emissions from coal-fired power plants.

“Stephanie was picked from an impressive pool of candidates due to her outstanding legal and public service credentials,” Greg Presmanes, Chairman of GreenLaw’s Board of Directors, said in a press release.

Benfield served as a public defender and then went into private practice before being elected to the Georgia General Assembly in 1999.

As previously reported by APN, under Thompson’s direction, GreenLaw successfully won a ten year legal battle to stop New Jersey-based LS Power from building a coal plant in southwest Georgia.

“I have already seen first-hand the positive impact that Stephanie has on Georgia,” Thompson said.  “I look forward to seeing the successes that I know she will have leading GreenLaw into its third decade.”

“I look forward to working with Justine and the other skilled attorneys at GreenLaw to continue to give our environment its day in court,” Benfield said.   “Whether the pollution is from landfills, careless industries, or dirty coal, it’s high time that we clear the air and clean the water in Georgia so our children can live healthy, productive lives.”

(END/2012)

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