Brookhaven voters head to the polls May 20 to choose a new sheriff and to nominate candidates in Republican and Democratic primaries who will meet in the election in the fall. Here are the candidates in contested races in May for the state Legislature and in the nonpartisan sheriff’s election.

To find out more about the candidates, go to ReporterNewspapers.net and click on “Voters Guide 2014.”

If you aren’t sure which district you vote in, go to http://www.mvp.sos.ga.gov/LoginPage.aspx. That website also will tell you where you vote and can provide you with a printable sample ballot.

State Senate, District 40

Democratic Primary

Tamara Y. Johnson

Community: Northlake

Occupation: Advocate for licensed beauty professionals

Previous political office held: none.Registered lobbyist in Georgia; hosts a weekly, Internet radio broadcast on legislation that affects the beauty and barber industry.

Why should the voters choose you for this position?

Voters should choose me for this position because of my advocacy experience and my tenacity to get the job done.  I understand my role as senator of District 40 is to facilitate the needs of my constituents.  My method of serving is to listen and to address the needs of those who I am elected to serve.

What do you think is the biggest problem facing constituents of the office you seek, and how do you plan to address that problem?

The biggest problem of the constituents of the office I seek is education and poor leadership. Georgia has to take a more balanced approach in the decision making process of what is best for our students.  The job of our elected officials (leaders) is to facilitate the process and not dictate the needs of our children based on politics or political agendas.   I plan to address this by working directly with our educators, our students and our parents to define and develop a strategic plan to improve education.

Benedict I. Truman II

Community: North DeKalb County

Occupation: consultant

Previous political experience: no

Why should the voters choose you for this position?
Voters should choose me for this position because I am the only candidate willing to fight for millennials and middle-class families. There are real kitchen table issues facing thousands of constituents in State Senate District 40, and they are not being adequately addressed. The overall labor participation rate is declining and the unemployment rate in District 40 is higher than the national average. Voters need a real voice in the General Assembly instead of advocates for big business.

What do you think is the biggest problem facing constituents of the office you seek, and how do you plan to address that problem? 

The biggest problem facing constituents of State Senate District 40 is the economy. I plan to address that problem by sponsoring legislation that will give small and medium-sized businesses tax breaks for each new net hire. Also, I would encourage my colleagues in the metro area to seriously consider a bid for the 2024 Olympics. The construction projects alone would provide a much needed boost to the local economy. In addition, I would persuade legislators to re-invest in shuttered facilities such as the GM plant in Doraville.

Republican Primary

Richard D. “Dick” Anderson

Community: Chamblee

Occupation: Manufacturer

Previous political experience: Active in Republican Party, but has not held elected office.

Why should the voters choose you for this position?

 I am not going to be a career politician.  I will serve a max of 4 years.
I come only to restore the Constitution, Rule of Law and all our Natural Rights for the good of all the people – not for special interests.
I will not take any form of donation from anybody that represents any special interest.
I will vote 100 percent for the Constitution – 100 percent of the time.
I know that our loss of rights has been the reason for the decline of this once great nation – and I believe we can restore it to its former grandeur by simply restoring the Constitution, Rule of Law and common sense. Our government was formed to protect our rights – not to “take care of us.”  We are rapidly running out of “taxpayers” to pay the bills.

What do you think is the greatest problem facing constituents of the office you seek, and how do you plan to address that problem?

   The biggest problem is voter ignorance – they do not know what their elected officials are actually doing.  Not even 5 percent are aware of the voting records of their Elected Representatives (I believe ElectTheRightCandidate.us is the best, most complete and easiest way to find this out about Georgia Legislators.  Of course all the info is available on the House & Senate websites, but it is quite difficult for most people.).
Very, very few are aware that approximately 75 percent of our supposedly Republican officials are voting more often in favor of special interests and against the Constitution and their natural rights. Unfortunately, most of the media is in “full concert” with this – they print all the glowing reports (press releases) output by these officials and never question, research or print anything about their other votes.
I intend to maintain my website with current information concerning issues that affect my constituency – all during the year, not only when the General Assembly is in session. I will have a summary of each bill I am to vote on, or have voted on, with how I voted & why I voted as I did. I will hold “Town Hall” Meetings from time to time so every constituent will have his opportunity to say whatever he feels.  And, I will send out all the above info to the media as well.

Fran Millar (I)

Community: Dunwoody

Occupation: Insurance broker

Previous political experience: Georgia Senate, 2011 to present; Georgia House of Representatives, 1999-2010.

Why should the voters choose you for this position?

I have represented North DeKalb for the past 15 years. As a Republican minority in DeKalb, I have been able to eliminate back-door tax increases through the property tax freeze; led the effort to keep our school accreditation by working with the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce and Gov. Nathan Deal; and kept people informed via newspaper articles, mailings, social media and forums. I was named one of the most influential senators the past two years by “James,” the political magazine.

What do you think is the greatest problem facing constituents of the office you seek, and how do you plan to address that problem?

The major issue in our state is education achievement by our young people. I passed the first career-ready versus four-year college option in the BRIDGE bill and we continue to build on this initiative. I have been a major support of Common Core because we need standards of high rigor and must have a basis of comparison with the balance of the country and the world. Remember, education is the largest component of our state budget (which is balanced – unlike Washington’s) and we need to get a satisfactory return on our investment.

Other issues include child welfare reform (I am on Gov. Deal’s Child Welfare Reform Council.) and transportation-mobility and integration of systems.

State Senate, District 42

Democratic Primary

Elena C. Parent

Community: Druid Hills

Occupation: Executive director, Georgai Watch

Previous political experience: Member of the Georiga House of Representatives, 2010 to 2012; Chief ofStaff to former District 42 Senator David Adelman in 2009.

Why should the voters choose you for this position?

I have experience working at the State Capitol on the issues most important to our children’s future. In the State House I fought the devastating cuts Governor Deal made to our schools. In the State Senate I will fight to restore those cuts and fully fund Pre-K, because our children deserve it. When extreme Republicans tried to roll back a woman’s right to choose, I stood up and fought back. I will always stand up for a woman’s right to choose. As Executive Director of Georgia Watch, I advocated for the expansion of Medicaid to ensure more working Georgians have access to basic healthcare coverage and I will work to expand Medicaid in the State Senate.

What do you think is the biggest problem facing constituents of the office you seek, and how do you plan to address that problem?

We must increase education funding to ensure that our children receive the education they deserve and can live up to their full potential. In the State House I fought cuts made to our schools and I voted to protect the HOPE scholarship. We must restore education funding so every child has a minimum of 180 school days per year. In the State Senate I will work to create and fully fund a statewide Pre-K program so we can prepare our children for success.

R. Kyle Williams

Community: Decatur

Occupation: lawyer

Previous political experience: none

Why should the voters choose you for this position?

Education, protecting our water and environment, defending fairness and equality, protecting the right to vote are my core values. I will fight for our public schools and teachers to restore state budget cuts, remove politics from education standards, and protect state employee benefits. I will fight to fully fund the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and guarantee that our environmental trust funds are dedicated for protection and clean-up. I will fight to expand Medicaid, fund critical HIV/AIDS research, and prevent maternal mortality. I am running to fight for fairness, good jobs, strong schools, clean water and air, equal rights.

What do you think is the biggest problem facing constituents of the office you seek, and how do you plan to address that problem? 

Right wing extremists have taken us down the wrong path. They vote to gut our schools, punish teachers, and undermine higher education for all of our students. They strip away environmental protections and give corporations control. They wage constant attacks on core values of equality and the right to vote. I’m not going stand by and let our future be decided by those who care more about corporate handouts and right wing extremism than they do about doing what is right for the people. I am running to be an unwavering progressive voice, advocate, and leader.

Georgia House of Representatives, District 80

Republican Primary

Catherine S. Bernard

Community: Brookhaven

Occupation: Lawyer

Previous political experience: Delegate to 2012 Republican convention; president of North DeKalb Republican Women; membership chair of DeKalb Young Republicans.

Michael J. “Mike” Jacobs (I)

Community: Brookhaven

Occupation: Lawyer

Previous political experience: State House of Representatives, 2005 to present

Why should the voters choose you for this position?

My record is one of which our community can be proud. I authored the bill creating the city of Brookhaven and passed legislation this year to shrink the dysfunctional DeKalb School Board from nine to seven members. I successfully have been working with MARTA to privatize aspects of its operations at a cost savings. Property taxes have been capped in Brookhaven and Sandy Springs due to legislation I helped pass. We also have repealed the birthday tax on motor vehicles, capped the state income tax, eliminated the state property tax and abolished Georgia’s death tax, all with my support.

What do you think is the greatest problem facing constituents of the office you seek, and how do you plan to address that problem?

Brookhaven and Sandy Springs now enjoy advantages that never would have been available if our communities had remained unincorporated. Georgia is a top place to do business and spends less per capita than nearly every other state. The greatest task for our State Representative is to maintain this momentum. Unlike my opponent who first registered to vote in our community in August 2013, I have more than a decade’s worth of community experience to keep generating positive results for Brookhaven and Sandy Springs.

Nonpartisan special election

Sheriff

Dale Bernard Collins

Community: Conley

Occupation:

Previous political experience: None.

Why should the voters choose you for this position?

What makes me the best person for Sheriff is:

  1. My 26 years of experience within the Sheriff’s Office where I worked and managed within every department in the Sheriff’s Office; makes me ready to lead on day one.  No other candidate can claim this.
  2. Because of this experience, I am intimately familiar with how each office should be run.
  3. And because I trained nearly 75% of the current Sheriff’s including some in this room, my relationships have allowed me to remain abreast of the challenges that still exist, and therefore I know exactly where changes are needed to make immediate improvements.

What do you think is the greatest problem facing constituents of the office you seek, and how do you plan to address that problem?

From the perspective of the sheriff, I believe that crime is the number one issue for DeKalb County.   Crime is impacting our schools and our children don’t feel safe and are not learning, crime is affecting our places of worship as the state presents bills that would guns in our churches.  Crime is discouraging businesses from coming to DeKalb and driving residents to choose to leave.  If we address crime with new ideas and new ways of doing things, the county would better overall.  I have a clear plan to resolve this issue.

Ted Golden

Community: Lithonia

Occupation: Retired from federal Drug Enforcement Administration

Previous political experience: none.

Tony Hughes

Home community: Stone Mountain

Occupation: law enforcement

Previous political experience: none.

Why should the voters choose you for this position?

I ask for your vote because the Sheriff’s office needs more than just an administrator – it needs a leader. My career has prepared me to be a leader in DeKalb. I served as Sergeant at the DeKalb Center Precinct, as one of the Department’s shift supervisors, as a supervisor in Homeland Security Division’s Gang Unit, and I also served as the Safety Coordinator for the entire DeKalb County Police Department. I am uniquely prepared to build relationships in DeKalb law enforcement. I also have business experience leading a multi-million dollar enterprise. DeKalb’s Sheriff’s Department needs a new direction if we are going to improve our county’s reputation and safety.

What do you think is the biggest problem facing constituents of the office you seek, and how do you plan to address that problem?

The most difficult law enforcement challenge in DeKalb is stopping the revolving door of crime. This problem requires a leader who is willing to build relationships and involve the community in the process.

As Sheriff, I would work to form alliances with non-profit and faith-based organizations that offer education opportunities to those who have fallen through the cracks. I would also encourage partnerships with vocational schools such as DeKalb Tech to offer training to unemployed youth.

Recidivism also indicates a lack of effective youth involvement by our Sheriff’s Department. We would explore a non-penal probationary program to assist with keeping young offenders off the streets and in schools.

Vernon Jones

Community: Southeast DeKalb

Occupation: Consultant

Previous political experience:

Why should the voters choose you for this position?

As Sheriff, my first priority will be to be tough on crime and provide assistance to the other DeKalb County law enforcement agencies with their crime fighting efforts. I have a proven record of fiscal responsibility and transparency. I will partner with religious, educational and community-based organizations to develop programs that will ensure protection of seniors, children and youth. I will also create a task force to address issues specific to women. DeKalb knows me, and I know DeKalb!

What do you think is the greatest problem facing constituents of the office you seek and how do you plan to address that problem?

There are three major issues plaguing the citizens of DeKalb. I will haunt criminals who scam our seniors, prey on our children, and burglarize our homes. As Sheriff, I will bridge the current gap between the community and the Sheriff’s Department. We will be responsive to the community and work to eliminate drugs in our neighborhoods, schools and places of business. My office will serve as the conduit between DeKalb’s law enforcement agencies in order to ensure that we don’t just push crime from one area of DeKalb to another, but rather eliminate it from DeKalb all together!

Melody Maddox

Community: South DeKalb

Occupation: former Assistant Chief of Police at Georgia Piedmont Technical College

Previous political experience: no

Why should the voters choose you for this position?

The voters should choose me because I am a leader that believes in honesty, humility, integrity, justice and most of all, equality. My resume speaks for itself for I come with an array of knowledge and skills to lead the Sheriff Office in the direction that it needs to go for future advancement.

What do you think is the greatest problem facing constituents of the office you seek and how do you plan to address that problem?

The biggest problem facing our constituents would be the low morale, communication, cooperation and collaboration with other law enforcement agencies. Under my administration our professional interaction with other agencies and the citizens alike will act as foundational principles woven together tightly. We will maintain an open dialogue with one another and the stakeholders of respective jurisdictions to include Dekalb County Schools having a liaison in the community to hear the concerns addressing them before they become an issue which can lead to problems. This is an issue that can only be addressed in unity by coming together as one voice for one vision.

Jeff Mann (I)

Community: Lake Claire

Occupation: Sheriff of DeKalb County

Previous political experience: current office

Why should the voters choose you for this position?

In addition to the experience listed in response to the preceding question, I am the most qualified and have the most relevant experience needed to execute the constitutional mandates required of the Sheriff’s Office. Additionally, my commitment to fiscal responsibility and adherence to proven procurement procedures ensures that DeKalb County taxpayers’ money is properly safeguarded. With me there is no on the job training – I have a proven track record. My candidacy offers continuity of leadership that is beneficial to taxpayers, citizens and the great men and women of the Office.

What do you think is the greatest problem facing constituents of the office you seek, and how do you plan to address that problem?

The safety of DeKalb citizens is dependent on the quality of employees the Sheriff’s Office is allowed to attract and maintain. Recruiting and retaining staff, particularly for the Jail Division, is the biggest challenge. I will continue to lobby the Board of Commissioners to ensure that sufficient funding is available to increase the pay of corrections staff to market rate. Given that the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office currently holds all three accreditations for excellence for a sheriff’s office, it is incomprehensible why the pay for our staff is less than similarly situated sheriff’s offices in the metropolitan Atlanta area.

Melvin Mitchell

Community: Lithonia

Occupation: law enforcement

Previous political experience: no

Why should the voters choose you for this position?

I believe that first and foremost, the job of Sheriff is a law-enforcement job, and I will call on my years of experience as a cop to lead this office from the field, not from behind a desk. I believe the Sheriff should be a visible leader, and one who earns the respect of the men and women in uniform who keep us safe. I can earn that respect, because I’ve been protecting and serving for 31 years.
What do you think is the greatest problem facing constituents of the office you seek, and how do you plan to address that problem?

The single biggest problem facing the DeKalb Sheriff’s Office is the 17,000 outstanding, unserved warrants on the books. Picture a hockey game at Phillips Arena, and then picture a wanted criminal in nearly every seat. That’s the size of the problem. As sheriff, my first priority will be to drastically reduce the backlog and bring the most violent offenders to justice immediately.

LaSalle Smith Sr.

Community: Lithonia

Occupation: Retired lieutenant from the Atlanta Police Department; owner and CEO of Georgia Security Professionals LLC.

Previous political experience: no

Why should voters choose you for this position?

The voters should choose me for this position; first, because of my many years of experience as a law enforcement professional, including serving as a director, manager and commander of practically every area of law enforcement. Secondly, voters should choose me because of my high degree of honesty, integrity, professionalism and leadership skills. Third, voters should choose me because I am a life time resident of DeKalb County and understand DeKalb county government. Fourth, DeKalb County needs a sheriff that possesses possess Godly principles and integrity; and I feel that I am that individual.

What do you think is the greatest problem facing constituents of the office you seek and how do you plan to address that problem?

I think the greatest problems facing constituents are a rise in crime; especially violent crime and second, a failure of the school system to adequately educate children of families; preparing them for the future.

As Sheriff, I plan to aggressively pursue a greater degree of collaboration among law enforcement in DeKalb County in order to more effectively and efficiently protect the county’s citizens, businesses, and properties.

It is my plan to hire and professionally train additional deputies to assist county police agencies in patrolling neighborhoods/communities; as well as work with them in fighting the “war on illegal drugs.” I will immediately partner with community organizations, business professionals, the school system, Faith-based organizations, and criminal justice agencies in developing programs to assist children; particularly those in middle and high schools (mentoring them, preparing them for college, providing job skills and training in order for them to become productive citizens of society). Additionally, I will task the group with the responsibility of developing plans to immediately address the recidivism rate in DeKalb County. The recidivism rate in Georgia is approximately 65%; therefore, by immediately addressing this area, will result in a significant reduction in crime; thereby making neighborhoods and businesses safe.

Board of Education

District 2

Don McChesney

Community: Sagamore Hills

Occupation: Retired educator

Previous political experience: Member DeKalb Board of Education, 2009-2012

Why should the voters choose you for this position?

I have spent 34 years as a public school classroom teacher. All my experience is in Atlanta, DeKalb, and Gwinnett. I know how schools work and how children learn. Having someone with professional education experience on a school board is essential. I can separate the practical and the theoretical. Also having served on a school board has given me insight into the shortcomings of bureaucracy.

What do you think is the biggest problem facing constituents of the office you seek, and how do you plan to address that problem?

Our biggest issue is trust. Until we right size our system by reducing bureaucracy, spend money that is delivered to the classroom instead of adult job programs, and ultimately raise student achievement we will lack public trust. If we attack these 3 things mentioned we can succeed. The first step is to hire a professional superintendent with a record of achievement and success in an urban school system that is not afraid to right size the bureaucracy.

Marshall Orson (I)

Community: Druid Hills

Occupation: Consultant, lawyer

Previous political experience: District 2 representative on the DeKalb School Board since 2012; chaired two local school councils, co-chair of the Emory-Lavista Parents Council

Why should the voters choose you for this position?

I joined the board only last year and was kept on the board by the governor to help repair and rebuild the DeKalb school system. The previous board’s actions led to the system being placed on probation, running a deficit, investigations by multiple grand juries, removal of six board members by the governor, waste of millions of dollars on legal fees and the system being pushed to the brink of collapse. In contrast, during the past year, we have gone off probation, eliminated the deficit, significantly reduced legal expenses, restored some of our educators’ pay and begun the process of rebuilding the system while restoring public trust. I am committed to helping DeKalb continue on this path.

What do you think is the biggest problem facing constituents of the office you seek and how do you plan to address that problem?

We face three significant challenges: the need to hire a long-term superintendent; to renew our focus on achieving great outcomes for our children; and to rebuild DeKalb as a leader i public education, including rebuilding the morale of our educators by restoring their pay and benefits and empowering them to run their schools and classrooms. At the same time, we must reorient the central office from a perspective of top-down management to one that supports and services our schools.

(I)= incumbent

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.

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