At Issue: Is teen running for Stonecrest City Council a good move?

Mary-Pat Hector (Credit: Channel 2 Action News)
Mary-Pat Hector (Credit: Channel 2 Action News)

The newly formed city of Stonecrest now has another distinction — it has allowed a teenager to run for a City Council seat. Mary-Pat Hector fought for the right to run based on the vague wording of the city charter that didn’t give an age requirement for public office holders. The 19-year-old Spelman College student has been active in local politics and organizations for several years. Besides being represented by Fulton County Commissioner Marvin Arrington Jr. in the challenge to her candidacy, her supporters include Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell, Atlanta Councilman Kwanza Hall and Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry.

Stonecrest is seating its first City Council on March 21, after voters approved the southeastern DeKalb city in November. The challenge was brought by George Turner Jr., who also qualified for the seat, along with Hector and three others.

Hector released this statement after DeKalb County Board of Registration and Elections decided to let her run:

“Justice was served, and the law prevailed,” Hector said. “The board’s decision is a testament to the inclusion of the next generation’s participation in the democratic process.”

What do you think? Is Hector’s passion and intelligence enough to outweigh her youth? Is she a shinning example for other young people to become more involved in government? Or is this arena too grown-up for one so young? Send comments to communitynews@ajc.com. Responses may be published in print and/or online.

LAST WEEK: SHOULD FAYETTE COUNTY APPROVE A NEW SPLOST?

Next month, Fayette County voters will say yay or nay to a one-cent special purpose local option sales tax that, if passed, would generate about $64.6 million that would be divided among the county and its municipalities to fund 238 projects. Most are related to infrastructure repairs such as dams, culverts, intersection improvements and road (and in Peachtree City, multi-use path) paving, plus others related to public safety. Opponents have questioned the need for a tax versus other forms of funding.

We asked residents whether or not they supported the SPLOST, and why. Here’s what some had to say:

I have looked at the projects listed in the SPLOST, and find them to be reasonable. I frequently shop in Peachtree City and at the Fayette Pavilion in Fayetteville, and always see a significant percentage of cars in both places from outside Fayette County. We can pass the SPLOST and make the needed improvements, getting a portion of that money from non-Fayette citizens. Or we can reject the SPLOST and either see a millage increase on our tax bill or do nothing and fall further behind in taking care of our infrastructure. - Charles Davenport

SPLOST? Definitely no! If these projects were, or are, needed, why were these projects not projected and funded during regular tax assessment times? Each year, our politicians pat themselves on their backs when millage rates are held at past-year or low levels, all the while knowing that projects recommended in the SPLOST are, or may be, needed. If these projects are needed, include them in future tax/millage rates and get them approved by the taxpayers. But then, our politicians’ re-election thoughts prevail. - Don Rehwaldt

Peachtree City needs money to upgrade and maintain its road and cart path infrastructure. SPLOST is an opportunity to finally catch up from the economic slowdown over the last eight years without increasing the millage rate. We’re going to pay for the work whether the SPLOST passes or not. Don’t forget, citizens are already paying a one-cent sales tax when they purchase products outside of Fayette County because nearly every county in the state has a SPLOST except Fayette. They know SPLOST is a huge low-cost source of funding. Right now, Fayette County residents are supporting those other counties and those counties have a big “Thank You” for Fayette residents. It’s time we reciprocate. - Eric Imker

The referendum is more than a question of whether or not to add a tax. It also gives citizens the opportunity to decide on an alternate source for tax dollars, along with how important they feel the projects for their jurisdiction are, since the SPLOST proceeds would be shared among the county and municipalities based on population. Whether voters support or oppose the SPLOST, it is important for them to know the range of projects, especially for the area where they live. Peachtree City will be hosting another informational workshop at 10 a.m. on March 4 at City Hall. - Betsy Tyler, City Clerk, Peachtree City

As a Peachtree City resident, the upcoming SPLOST vote can be summed up in two words: stormwater fees! If that fee went away with a positive SPLOST vote, it would likely pass. However, most folks I speak with say overwhelmingly that the SPLOST will not pass if the stormwater fee remains as an assessment on residents. I agree. - William Holliday

While nearly every county in Georgia has continued or added SPLOSTs to their tool kit to maintain quality of life, Fayette County has not passed a SPLOST since 2004. Each of the five cities and the county went through an extensive vetting process and chose the projects with citizen input. Everyone chose road projects in their jurisdiction; Fayette County also chose stormwater and Peachtree City included its famous multi-use paths. We are all in Fayette together. We should work together to rebuild our decaying infrastructure, and let our neighbors who shop here help us do that. - Virgil Fludd, Co-chair, Vote Yes 4 Fayette

Virtually all the projects are for capital expenditures, like major road improvements and necessary new buildings. These projects will benefit local residents for 25 years or more. The question some of us are asking ourselves is why we, who are living in the county right now, should be paying within five or six years for something that will last at least 25 years and will benefit all the newcomers between now and 2041. – Claude Y. Paquin

- Jill Howard Church for the AJC

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