In alphabetical order, the candidates seeking to be the next Clayton County Commission chairman are, in alphabetical order, former District 74 state Rep. Roberta Abdul-Salaam, D-Riverdale, the incumbent, Eldrin Bell, and former Clayton County Police Chief Jeff Turner.
Each candidate said their platforms emphasized the importance of bringing jobs to Clayton County and returning public transit to the area as well as pledging to work with Clayton organizations, public and private to help return public transit to the area. In addition, Turner said public trust in the commission needs to also be restored.
Abdul-Salaam said her reason for running for chairman of the commission is she is dedicated to Clayton County and its future and feels the county needs new leadership, “as we need to put the citizens of Clayton County first.”
Bell is asking voters to look at the record because, he said, it reflects his desire to improve the quality of life of Clayton residents on many fronts, from education and employment to public transportation.
Turner believes the county commission has failed to meet its responsibilities with the county budget reflecting what he said was little concern to address the needs of senior citizens, Clayton youth county employees and the general public at large.
He said the only way to fix the problem is though several actions, one of the most important being proper planning.
Abdul-Salaam has served eight years as a state representative and, in so doing, has served on several committees dealing with such issues as transportation, economic development and tourism as well as the judicial committee.
“In the legislature, I led the fight to bring public transit back to the county,” she said. “I was able to pass legislation that would generate $49 million per year for public transportation in Clayton County.”
Abdul-Salaam further stated she organized the Friends of Clayton Transit, a board coalition that included local advocacy organizations, students, the Atlanta Regional Commission, Citizens for Progressive Transit, MARTA, the Georgia Department of Transportation and other organizations to educate citizens about the transportation issue.
Bell said his platform centers on bringing economic growth to Clayton, which means more jobs for Clayton residents. He emphasized his efforts which resulted in the recent opening of two Wayfield Foods stores and the more than 100 jobs it produced.
“I will work to create a Central Improvement District which will bring a public-private partnership to the county and be the platform for additional economic growth,” Bell said.
He said he has just completed a term as chairman of the Transit Planning Board of the Atlanta Regional Commission as well as being what he termed a “cornerstone” member of the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce as well as a life member of the N.A.A.C.P.
“I strongly support passage of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for transportation,” said Bell, who has been in elective office for eight years and in public service for 33 years.
Turner said that, as the new commission chairman, he would bring fiscal responsibility back to the county, create jobs through the encouragement of new business coming into Clayton.
As to resolving what he sees as problems on the Clayton County Commission, Turner said that, in addition to proper planning, he would make sure all county departments would be properly funded.
“I would make sure our commissioners would be held to the highest standard, as I will, and remain accountable to our citizens,” Turner said.
“I would also make sure all the board’s actions were transparent.”