Taking The 5th: Five Candidates Seek New Fulton Commission Seat

By Hal Lamar | 5/16/2014, 10:15 a.m.
Thanks to the Republican majority in both houses of the Georgia General Assembly, Fulton County’s seven commission districts were redrawn ...
Top to bottom: Brenda Muhammad, Dell Byrd, Marvin Arrington, Jr., Johnnie Gordon, Kwame Thompson

“I understand the criminal justice system and can speak firsthand about it. I intend to stand up for what is right and to speak out for what is wrong,” he said.

 Candidate Dell Byrd also thinks that serving in District 5 is a “good fit’ for her. Last year, she sought a seat on the Atlanta School Board through a suggestion by friends. With barely three months to campaign, Byrd received 25.4% of the vote, forcing a runoff between her and leading vote-getter Eshe Collins.

“I didn’t think that was bad at all with only three months to campaign,” she said. In the runoff, and blaming bad weather, Byrd lost to Collins 59 to 40%.      

But buoyed by her impressive race last year, she decided to seek the 5th District seat in Fulton County…..when she finally found out about it.

“When I found out that a new 5th was created by the General Assembly, I also found out that very few people knew about it. Was this deliberately kept from us? I then created a plank in my candidacy to keep constituents fully informed of what is going on in the county where they work and sleep,” Byrd said.

Byrd , a longtime educator and activist originally from Folkston, Ga. and the cousin of  University of Georgia  and  NFL great Champ Bailey  (also from Folkston) , said she would like to do something about the county’s high unemployment which she believes can be remedied through solicitation of more businesses to the district through grants and other incentives. “I also want to express to my colleagues on the commission the need for teamwork and finding better ways to do our jobs on behalf of our citizens,” she added.

Two relative newcomers to the political landscape are also seeking the seat.  Kwame Thompson, an Atlanta lawyer, was born in St Louis, Missouri where he helped his mother win a seat in the Missouri legislature. Thompson attended Morehouse College after high school and later returned to his home state to get a legal degree from Washington University. He returned to Atlanta to commence a 15 year legal career with another firm before creating a private practice in downtown Atlanta.  Thompson is also a entrepreneur and resides in the city’s Mechanicsville community. His website lists public safety, justice and economic security as some of his campaign planks.

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time,” he touts as his campaign vision.” We are the one we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

Another newcomer to the world of electioneering and politics is Johnnie Gordon. The native of Washington D.C. served eight years in the US Marine Corps and is currently a regional project manager for Texas-based Tyler Technologies. Although not available for comment prior to the Voice’s deadline, Gordon’s web site lists increased productivity and increasing effectiveness of public safety as principle planks in his campaign.

“Protecting and preserving our neighborhoods, and educating our children while promoting responsible economic growth are my top priorities,” Gordon states.

The general primary election is Tuesday, May 20. Early voting is now open.