Rep. Long, Brenda Muhammad to Seek Fulton District 5 Seat
(APN) ATLANTA — Both former State Rep. Ralph Long (D-Atlanta) and former Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education Member Brenda Muhammad (District 1) are running for a new open seat on the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, Atlanta Progressive News has learned.
Last year, the State Legislature changed the makeup of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners to include six districts and one at-large seat, instead of five districts and two at-large seats. The legislature accordingly changed the district map to accommodate six districts instead of five.
Long and Muhammad are running for District 5, a seat that is open because no current Commissioners live within its boundaries.
Fulton County Commissioner Emma Darnell holds the current District 5 seat, but both she and Commissioner Bill Edwards (District 7) live in what will be the new District 6. Darnell and Edwards are expected to challenge each other in 2014 for the District 6 seat.
Rep. Long served in the State House from 2009 to 2012. In 2012, Long was redistricted into House District 58 along with State Rep. Simone Bell (D-Atlanta). Bell won the Democratic Primary.
Long considered running for two City Council seats–District 12 and Post 3-at-large–even announcing his run for the latter seat, in 2012, but ultimately decided not to run and endorsed Andre Dickens for the Post 3 seat.
“I can bridge the gap between county and state,” Long told APN. “I actually speak with Republicans.”
He said he was open to the idea of a City of South Fulton incorporating. “I will allow them [the people of South Fulton] to determine for themselves,” whether they want a city, he said.
He said he wanted to make sure tether laws for dogs are enforced and that animal shelters have increased standards in Fulton County. He also said he wants to increase access to the Internet among senior citizens by providing Internet access at senior centers in Fulton County.
“I look forward to Brenda [Muhammad] running. I look forward to beating her really badly,” Long said when told that Muhammad is also running for the seat.
“Brenda lost her seat for a reason. I’m looking forward to bringing a younger perspective,” he said.
Muhammad served on the APS BOE, for the District 1 seat, from 1998 to 2013, including serving as Chair. She was defeated by Leslie Grant in the November 2013 election.
Muhammad said she is running for Fulton County Commission because “I think I can take my experience from having served on the School Board. I think that governance experience would play a major role.”
“A lot of things I’m concerned about fall under the umbrella of services the county offers. The arts, libraries, health, mental health services, health and human services have always been my concern as it relates to children and families. I think this is a wonderful opportunity,” Muhammad said.
The district includes much of south Atlanta, the City of East Point, and some of south Fulton.
“We have the issue of the [new Falcons] stadium and what’s happening around that, I want to hear the voices of the people that live around the stadium, and be an advocate for them at the county,” she said.
“Then you’ve got the East Point area, they’re concerned about a lack of development, crime, and safety. Then there’s been South Fulton, they have this issue of cityhood before them, and that’s proven to be divisive among different communities,” she said.
“There’s a lot that needs to be done, they need a strong advocate, I want to be that person, I feel that I could be – it’s sort of a natural step for me,” Muhammad said.
When advised of Rep. Long’s critical remarks about her, she said, “There’s nothing wrong with him feeling… that’s sort of customary for him to have those kind of thoughts. He has not strained from the ordinary… He’s delusional.”
“I do hope if we are running for the same seat that we can maintain civility and diplomacy, and if he doesn’t know about that, hopefully I can share a little bit with him.”