In 5th District runoff, Hall and Franklin outline big dreams for brief tenure

Kwanza Hall, a former Atlanta City councilman, and Robert Franklin, former president of Morehouse College, advanced to the Dec. 1 runoff in the race to finish the term of U.S. Rep. John Lewis in Georgia's 5th Congressional District.

The two men still in the running to succeed Congressman John Lewis in Washington say they hope to use their brief time in office to champion his favored issues, including voting rights and access to healthcare.

But first, Kwanza Hall and Robert Franklin’s mission is to motivate voters to show up for a Dec. 1 runoff during a pandemic and with most fully aware that the winner won’t have much time to advance the vision of the civil rights giant who died in July.

Hall, a 49-year-old former Atlanta City councilman who ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2017, received the most votes out of the seven candidates in Tuesday’s special election. He said he hopes to serve as a bridge between a younger generation who represent America’s future and older voters who tend to have the most influence over politics.

“They paved the way for us, but there is time for the baton to start being passed," he said.

Franklin, who served as Morehouse College president for five years and is currently a theology professor at Emory University, raised the most money and promoted endorsements from notable African Americans like historian Henry Louis Gates and astronaut Mae Jemison.

He said he appealed to voters who already see him as a leader and pastoral figure who would take care of Lewis' seat during a turbulent time in America.

“Someone who can speak truth to power and has a track record of doing that," Franklin said about his pitch to voters.

The candidates are both Democrats who support reinstating voter protection laws by passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. They both also said they want Congress to move forward with approving the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to bring about reforms in the wake of protests on police brutality.

Even if the runoff winner is sworn in the day after the election, it is unlikely he will spend more than a couple of weeks working in Washington. The House’s calendar currently has members on recess starting Dec. 11 and through the new year.

The winner of the 5th Congressional District general election — likely to be state senator and Democratic Party of Georgia Chairwoman Nikema Williams — will be sworn in on Jan. 3 for a full two-year term. That leaves no more than 32 days for Hall or Franklin to actively serve.

ExploreHall, Franklin to face each other in runoff to succeed U.S. Rep. John Lewis
ExploreGeorgia 5th District special election results

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