APN Endorses Catherine Bernard; George Turner; Shelitha Robertson
(APN) ATLANTA — Atlanta Progressive News’s Board of Director is pleased to endorse Catherine Bernard for the State House District 80 seat formerly held by State Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-Brookhaven), in the Special Election being held Tuesday, July 14, 2015; and George Turner for DeKalb County District 5 in the Special Election Run-off being held on the same date.
We also reiterate our prior endorsement of Shelitha Robertson for State House District 55 for the upcoming Run-off.
STATE HOUSE DISTRICT 80: CATHERINE BERNARD
In a historic move, Atlanta Progressive News has endorsed Catherine Bernard, who has earned the distinction of being the first-ever Republican candidate to receive an endorsement from APN. APN has been issuing endorsements for nearly ten years.
Bernard has demonstrated the very commitment to public service that we look for in candidates. She was active as a citizen advocate in the Georgia Legislature, leading the successful opposition to the codification of no knock warrants earlier this year.
Prior to that, she has been an outspoken opponent of the City of Brookhaven’s costly and unsuccessful legal crusade against the Pink Pony adult entertainment establishment; and she successfully helped oppose Brookhaven’s effort to establish a development authority.
We get so tired of candidates popping up out of the woodworks and running for office. We look for candidates who not only are accessible, and who provide what we consider to be progressive answers to most, if not all, of our questions, but also candidates with public service experience.
Bernard is not only experienced, but she has demonstrated that she is an independent thinker who is willing to challenge the Republican establishment and to challenge the status quo.
In her responses to APN’s candidate questionnaire, Bernard stated her support for ballot access, elections integrity, the keeping of minutes by legislative committees, and legalization of cannabis; her opposition to reducing early voting; and her concerns regarding cityhood, and the Opportunity School District.
Bernard did say she opposed mandatory GMO labeling in the APN questionnaire, a point upon which we disagree, but she said she is open to discussing the issue further.
Democrat Taylor Bennett did support GMO labeling, but, disturbingly, stated his opinion that nuclear power is “clean” and “efficient,” even though it causes radioactive pollution, causes river draw-down, and produces waste for which there is no long-term storage plan.
Moreover, prior to running for this seat, Bennett did not have a record of civic engagement, while Bernard has already appeared in APN’s news archives on several occasions.
It is obvious that former Brookhaven Mayor J. Max Davis is the establishment candidate in this race, based on his endorsements and the campaign contributions he has received.
As previously reported by APN, Davis is the subject of an investigation into alleged retaliation in connection with a sexual harassment complaint; and he led the City of Brookhaven’s costly legal crusade against the Pink Pony.
Candidate Loren Collins, as a Libertarian-leaning Republican, is similar to Bernard in terms of stances on the issues; however, he does not have a record of public service that compares to that of Ms. Bernard.
As a general matter, it is important to reiterate that APN is non-partisan and is focused instead on issues of public policy.
Typically, APN endorses Democrats, but not because they are Democrats, but because their policy positions are often closest to APN’s editorial positions.
For example, in last year’s race for former State Rep. Ed Lindsey’s (R-Atlanta) seat, there was a Democrat, an Independent, and a Republican in the race; we endorsed Democrat Bob Gibeling, but it was because he earned the endorsement with his questionnaire responses.
But in 2009, we endorsed independent Mary Norwood for Mayor of Atlanta, over Democrat Kasim Reed.
And we have also endorsed Libertarians in races where Democrats have also run. In 2010, we endorsed David Chastain over Democratic nominee Georganna Sinkfield, because Chastain was stronger on elections integrity. In 2012, we endorsed Brad Ploeger over Democratic nominee Steve Oppenheimer, because Ploeger was against nuclear power.
So, we have a record of being non-partisan, and we think that this endorsement underscores our commitment to public policy and good governance.
We think the prospect of a State Rep. J. Max Davis is something to be avoided, so we are encouraging the voters of District 80, including Democratic voters, to support Bernard in the Special Election, so that if there is a Run-off, that it would be between Davis and Bernard.
DEKALB DISTRICT 5: GEORGE TURNER
We endorsed Gina Mangham in the ten candidate Special Election, which was held on June 16, 2015; we also rated George Turner as Qualified. Turner is now in a Run-off with Mereda Johnson, and we are endorsing Mr. Turner.
Again, we think, all other things being equal, candidates who have demonstrated public service in their district should receive preference over those who have not.
George Turner has been involved through various neighborhood associations, speaking up on behalf of the neighborhoods in various zoning and land use matters.
Mereda Johnson, on the other hand, appears to have been quite busy working on the payroll of her husband, U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), and does not have a record of service in District 5.
Johnson, who apparently thinks she is entitled to the seat, did not respond to APN in regards to the candidate questionnaire and has been generally inaccessible throughout the race, including by not attending at least one forum.
Finally, George Turner was recommended for this seat by a citizens’ commission empaneled by the DeKalb County Commission; however, the White members of the Board of Commissioners held up the appointment. For that reason, we feel even more that it is time to give Mr. Turner a chance, the chance he was denied along racial lines, after being thoroughly vetted by stakeholders through the District.
STATE HOUSE DISTRICT 55: SHELITHA ROBERTSON
We reiterate our support of Shelitha Robertson, who we endorsed in the Special Election.
Robertson and Marie Metze are in the Run-off. However, we reiterate our concern that Metze has not been prepared to respond to questions in the APN questionnaire or at the QLS candidates’ forum. Her answer has repeatedly been that she needs to research the issues. It demonstrates a lack of preparedness for the position.
Metze also refused to answer questions, when recently reached by phone by APN after the June 16, 2015 election. Metze said all questions were to be referred to her campaign committee. This raises serious concerns about her accessibility.
That being said, we also are concerned about a piece of campaign literature produced and distributed by the Robertson campaign, which included Metze’s age in a compare-and-contrast section. We feel that age-ism is unacceptable and distasteful; Robertson should have focused on herself. As Mary Norwood likes to say, Coke doesn’t talk about Pepsi. But even if the mailer were to reference Ms. Metze, as long as Metze is still sharp and still active, her age should not matter or even be relevant to the discussion.
While we were distressed by the reference to Metze’s age, we still maintain our endorsement of Ms. Robertson, who has demonstrated a stronger sense of knowledge of the issues and an articulated, comprehensive, progressive campaign platform.