Cobb’s newest commissioner says she’ll push for results

Lisa Cupid

Age: 35

Occupation: full-time student, mother

Education: Bachelor's in mechanical engineering from Georgia Tech; finishing advanced degrees in law and public administration from Georgia State; expected completion, May 2013.

Hometown: Southfield, Mich.

Family: Married for 10 years to Craig; mom of Nehemiah, 3, and Noah, 2.

She has served on local advisory boards, her neighborhood homeowner’s association and a city task force, but Lisa Cupid isn’t totally comfortable with the label “community advocate.”

As Cobb’s newest county commissioner, Cupid, 35, says she wants to do more than just promote the needs of south Cobb. She wants to usher in changes to create a cleaner, safer and more prosperous District 4.

“I want to do more than just talk. I want to see results,” she said. “Unless I get people on the board to see that to move Cobb forward this part of the county must move forward, none of my words will mean anything.”

Cupid, who grew up in Michigan, crushed incumbent Woody Thompson in an August runoff election, earning almost 76 percent of the vote. During the campaign, she hammered Thompson on his lack of visibility in the community, and painted the longtime board member as out of touch with the needs of his district.

Thompson struck back, touting his 12 years of experience and suggesting in a local newspaper article that Cupid would have trouble balancing dual roles as a commissioner and a mother to two young children. Cupid, who is finishing up her law degree and a master’s in public administration at Georgia State, acknowledges she’s a busy woman, but says when she sees a problem, she feels compelled to be the fixer.

Elliott Hennington met Cupid while working with the Austell Community Partnership, a group that brings nonprofits and churches together to collaborate. He said Cupid’s concern for the community is sincere.

“She’s willing to work for everyone in the community. Doesn’t matter what part of the district they live in,” he said.

Cupid said she’ll focus on code enforcement and maintenance, job development and building a sense of community in District 4, which is more racially and economically diverse than other parts of Cobb. Cupid frequently holds professional meetings at the Wingate hotel near Six Flags Over Georgia to make a point to visitors that this is one of the few places in south Cobb to convene. The hotel is in a stretch of the county with few sidewalks and overgrown shrubs that stand in contrast to the manicured walkways in thriving east Cobb.

Cupid’s election to the County Commission represents the shifting demographics of Cobb County, especially in the southern portion. She’s the second black commissioner to serve in Cobb and the only Democrat on the board. But she said her selection is due to much more than race.

“Yes, I am sensitive to the fact that the area of the county that is struggling tends to have people that look more like me,” she said. “But if I was the only black person in a community of white people and I walk out of my house and there’s no sidewalks beyond 200 feet, that’s a problem. If I walk out of my subdivision and I see trash and the grass isn’t mowed, that’s not a black/white issue, that’s a community service issue.”

Cupid could have significant influence on the commission, depending on whom she supports. East Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott often clashes with Chairman Tim Lee, and Cupid’s vote could strengthen either camp. Cupid said she’s not ready to take sides and will support whomever is looking out for the voters’ best interests. But she is concerned about Lee’s idea to introduce a consumption-based tax — known as a homestead option sales tax, or HOST — to roll back property taxes. And she calls Cobb’s longtime practice of transferring 10 percent of the water system revenues to the county’s general fund “ridiculous.”

Outgoing commissioner Thompson said he has since had conversations with Cupid and they got along well. He said she still has a lot to learn, not just about the district, but about county politics.

“I told her, ‘You better learn how to count to three to get anything done, because it take three votes out of five to get anything passed,’ ” he said. “She’ll do fine. Other commissioners and the development community will try her out to see where she stands and what they can get her to go along with.”