While attending the monthly meeting for Neighborhood Planning Unit V (NPU-V) this past Monday night, I had the pleasure of seeing the Democratic nominee for State Representative in District 57 make an appearance. After an apparently extensive vacation following the end of the Democratic primary race, it’s good for the ongoing contest to see my opponent back out in our communities in southwest Atlanta. As she has been doing at neighborhood meetings since the beginning of her campaign, Ms. Pat Gardner disingenuously presented herself to attendees as the actual elected official for District 57. In truth, she is simply an incumbent Democratic from another area that was reassigned to southwest Atlanta by the recent Republican led redistricting process. She may be the presumptive winner of the race in her own mind, but I would like to remind voters throughout the District that there is still an election in November and they still have a choice.
My name is Kwabena “Cubby” Nkromo and I am the certified Green Party write-in candidate for State Representative in District 57. There are rules in Georgia that make it unnecessarily and unfairly difficult to run for office if you are not a Democrat or a Republican. My name has been prevented from appearing on the regular ballot by these suppressive measures, but I am an official candidate and have satisfied the Georgia Secretary of States requirements to appear on the ballot as a certified write-in candidate. Registered constituents may vote for me, but they must write my name on the ballot instead of simply checking a box. It is very easy to do and if you live in District 57 I am asking you to write-in Kwabena “Cubby” Nkromo and vote for “what we have in common”.
While Ms. Gardner has been on vacation after a Democratic primary where money made a huge difference, I have remained on the battlefield of community building and defense like many of the residents in District 57. My opponent was on the wrong side of the recent Transportation Investment Act, or TSPLOST as it became popularly known. Along with many other neo-liberals of her Democratic ilk, Ms. Gardner failed to perceive the fundamental injustice of the proposed legislation that would have perpetuated and expanded the legacy of Jim Crow transportation policy for the metropolitan Atlanta region. Through the Transportation Equity Coalition and other direct actions, I fought with those who saw through the hype and turned down a tax increase without fairness. Despite our obvious need for transportation investment, we also simply needed to do better than TSPLOST.
While Ms. Gardner was I’m sure deservedly hanging out in sunny California, I was fighting with groups like Occupy Our Homes to keep banks from illegally evicting people from their residences as a result of unscrupulous mortgage schemes and the hostile policies of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Many constituents within District 57 are in real crisis or duress regarding the lack of jobs and resulting stress on household budgets. We simply cannot afford passive leadership and political representation on any level for out communities during these difficult economic times, and certainly not at the State House. My civic and professional leadership record demonstrates a real capacity to protect our interests while pointing a way towards more sustainable job creation for our neighborhoods.
On the proposed Charter School amendment to the Georgia constitution that will appear on the ballot November 6th (HR 1162), it seems Ms. Gardner and I are on the same side of the issue in opposition to this insidious legislation. Cloaked in language and advocacy designed to appear innocuous, HR 1162 is actually the continuation of the direct assault from commercial interests on the public coffers of Georgia taxpayers in local school districts for private profits and a dilution of citizen-based democracy. Whatever the relative merits of charter schools, the only consistently proven ways to improve the effectiveness of education are reforms like smaller class sizes, more experienced teachers, and better nutrition for students. I was elected President of the Parent Teacher Organization last week at my son Kwesi’s public charter school (Atlanta Preparatory Academy in Vine City) and have been actively involved as Parliamentarian last year and Chair of our Edible Schoolyard Committee. I am not opposed to chartered learning institutions and believe all schools do better when parents are meaningfully involved, but we don’t need the Governor of Georgia having the power to supersede the will of local school boards on allocation a local tax dollars to fund profit seeking corporations using our children as their raw material. While Ms. Gardner may sympathize with our plight on this issue, I am the guard dog in this fight.
Given the gravity of what’s at stake in public policy at this moment in our communities, it seems to me that the voters of District 57 deserve a debate about their representation in the state legislature. Ms. Gardner handily defeated her opponent in the Democratic primary Rashad Taylor (who by the way was the actual incumbent for the southwest area of the newly redrawn district), so constituents did not benefit from much deliberation on the issues due to Mr. Taylor’s relatively anemic campaign. Also, we were not likely to get much contrast from two Democrats with very similar voting records and political temperaments. Along with our national candidate Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party offers a real alternative to the status quo of underwhelming and inadequate political leadership. As a certified candidate for State Representative in District 57, I challenge and invite Ms. Gardner to a debate at a mutually chosen place and time for the benefit of voters. Our communities deserve nothing less.