South Fulton Cityhood Advocates Seek State House Seats
State House races in Districts 62 and 63, covering much of south Fulton County, will be top-heavy with City of South Fulton advocates.
Atlanta Progressive News is beginning our election coverage for the May 2016 Primary Election. APN has already sent out questionnaires to numerous candidates.
While this article has a special focus on candidates in two races because of their common bond, APN will be reaching out to every campaign in House Districts 62, 63, and many others with questionnaires over the next few weeks.
DEBRA BAZEMORE, CANDIDATE FOR HD 63
Debra Bazemore, supporter of South Fulton cityhood, and an outspoken critic of annexations in south Fulton County, will be running for Georgia House District 63.
Currently, the seat is currently held by State Rep. Ronnie Mabra (D-Fayetteville), who is not seeking reelection so he can spend more time with his family. The district comprises parts of College Park, Union City, and Fayetteville.
Linda Pritchett also intends to run for the District 63 seat.
Pritchett previously attempted to run for the same seat in 2012. At that time, CBS 46 television news ran a troubling report regarding Pritchett’s criminal history.
Bazemore, who has led the group South Fulton United for the last two legislative sessions, has openly criticized City of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and State Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) for attempting to influence over annexation attempts in South Fulton.
Bazemore said South Fulton cityhood is one motivation for running, but not the only one. In fact, she predicts that the State Senate will approve a South Fulton cityhood referendum this year.
“I am the best person for the job. I am collaborating with commissioners and county leaders about public safety,” Bazemore said.
“We had a rally last year and invited other city leaders, on education, as the Governor attempts to take over some failing schools in South Fulton; the concern is that the State takes money from some schools, leaving others with no money. This creates a ripple effect for students, teachers and parents,” Bazemore said.
“For economic development, we want to attract the right kind of businesses. We sit in close proximity to the world’s busiest airport. We want to build up our area and have it be enticing. If we don’t have the community and all the voices at the table, we won’t succeed. I will continue to be their voice, as I have for the last six years,” Bazemore told Atlanta Progressive News.
Bazemore was appointed to the South Fulton Comprehensive Plan steering committee that outlines the County’s priorities for the next thirty years.
She has worked with legislators, ran a State Senator’s office, lobbied on behalf of South Fulton residents, and traveled internationally with legislators; is a state committee member for Democratic Party of Georgia; has put on numerous meetings in Fulton County; and has been the President of her homeowners association for the last ten years.
Rafer Johnson, a flight attendant and South Fulton advocate, hopes to make a mark on District 62 this year.
District 62’s seat is currently held by State Rep. LaDawn Blackett Jones (D-Atlanta), an open critic of the City of Atlanta’s annexation attempts in South Fulton, who will not be seeking reelection.
William K. Bodie and Valerie Vie, both attorneys, are also both running for the seat.
“I have the combination of private, public and nonprofit organizations. My opponents do not bring that to the table,” Johnson told APN.
“I am a proud Leadership Atlanta alum of 2009. When Leadership Atlanta 2012 signed a letter for the South Fulton movement, I made some calls and started to tear through the finances; it was a no brainer for us. I formed coalition of South Fulton Now that included clergy, business leaders, and residents and served as the first chair of the organization, that became part of the bigger coalition,” Johnson said.
Johnson said he is the first openly gay black man to run for office. He has served his community in many capacities. He was the President of the Parkside Homeowners Association and was the Commissioner of Housing for Fulton County.
“As Chair of Fulton County’s Housing Authority, he was called to lead the organization during one of the greatest modern migrations due to a natural disaster, Hurricane Katrina. He ensured a positive reputation for greater Atlanta while maintaining care and fairness to its citizens who had existing housing needs,” according to his website.