Longtime Gwinnett school superintendent endorses MARTA referendum

Gwinnett County Public Schools CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks. TAYLOR CARPENTER / TAYLOR.CARPENTER@AJC.COM
Gwinnett County Public Schools CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks. TAYLOR CARPENTER / TAYLOR.CARPENTER@AJC.COM

Longtime Gwinnett County Public Schools superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks has joined a recent chorus of high-profile local leaders endorsing the county's upcoming MARTA referendum.

Wilbanks' endorsement, announced Monday by pro-transit committee "Go Gwinnett," comes days after similar expressions of support from ex-Gov. Nathan Deal, Gwinnett Sheriff Butch Conway and Gwinnett District Attorney Danny Porter.

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Wilbanks, who has been superintendent of Georgia’s largest school system since 1996, called the potential investment in transit expansion an investment in the county’s children.

“Local revenue funds over 40 percent of the operations of Gwinnett County Public Schools, so having a robust economy is critical to ensuring we are able to attract the best teachers and provide the instructional programs our students need to be competitive,” Wilbanks’ statement said. “The county’s transportation infrastructure is a vital factor in supporting that robust economy, and it needs major relief.”

If a majority of Gwinnett voters chose “yes” on the referendum, the county’s pending contract with MARTA would be consummated and residents and visitors would be committed to  paying a new 1 percent sales tax until 2057.

The sales tax proceeds would be used to help pay for dramatic transit expansions, including a heavy rail extension from Doraville into the Norcross area and several bus rapid transit lines, which are often likened to "light rail on rubber tires."

Election Day is March 19. Early voting is already underway and will continue from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day through Friday, March 15.

The eight early voting locations currently available can be found on the map below.

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