Will activist teen be allowed to run for office in DeKalb city?

Mary-Pat Hector
Mary-Pat Hector

A decision looms on whether a 19-year-old activist will be allowed to run for a council seat in the newly created city of Stonecrest.

Mary-Pat Hector, a Spelman College student, is set to go before the DeKalb County Board of Registration and Elections on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. Fulton County Commissioner Marvin Arrington Jr. is representing her against an opponent’s challenge to her candidacy.

"We're good enough to vote in the state of Georgia for elected officials, but we're not good enough to run for these positions," Hector told Channel 2 Action News. "And that's heartbreaking to me and I'm sure to other young people in the state of Georgia."

The disagreement stems from conflicting interpretations of the law. Georgia statue says a person must be 21 to seek a council seat unless a local ordinance is adopted to allow people 18 or older.

Stonecrest is only now seating its first city council on March 21, after voters approved the southeastern DeKalb city in November. Its charter is laid out in the legislation creating the city, which doesn't give an age requirement.

The challenge was brought by George Turner Jr., who also qualified for the seat, along with Hector and three others.

"I'm not challenging Mary-Pat Hector,” Turner said in a statement. “I'm challenging the election board to make sure all candidates are qualified to run for office."

Hector, already active in local politics and organizations for several years, boasts supporters including Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell, Atlanta Councilman Kwanza Hall and Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry.

The election board meets at the Voter Registration and Elections Office located at 4380 Memorial Drive, Suite 300 in Decatur.

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