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Voters to pick between community activist and educator in District 1 race

Jennifer Ffrench-Parker | 3/10/2017, 6 a.m.
Jimmy Clanton, Jr. and Dr. Charles Ross bid to be the first city council member for the Stonecrest Post 1 ...
Jimmy Clanton, Jr. and Dr. Charles Ross bid to be the first city council member for the Stonecrest Post 1 seat has pitted a community activist against an educator.

Jimmy Clanton, Jr. and Dr. Charles Ross bid to be the first city council member for the Stonecrest Post 1 seat has pitted a community activist against an educator.

Clanton, a long-time community activist, lists economic development as the most pressing issue facing the new 29-square-mile city.

He said companies and businesses want to move into an area with the least amount of obstruction as possible.

“Most of the time most of the obstructions to growth come from legislation,” he said. “So what we want to do is remove those barriers, remove the obstructions and move forward with new businesses in the area. To grow we have to signal that we are willing, ready and waiting to help you grow in this neighborhood.”

Ross, a fifth-grade teacher, says education is key to spurring economic development.

“The bottom line is that education is the foundation of a community,” he said. “Yes we need to things about crime, we need to raise issues about business development, but if you don’t start with educating the young folks and making sure that they’re reading at grade level by 3rd grade, the success is going to be very, very limited.”

The two are among 20 candidates seeking to make up the inaugural elected leadership of the city of Stonecrest, The winner of the March 21 special election will serve until Dec. 31, 2017, before running for a full four-year term of office.

Clanton, a self described community activist, has lived in DeKalb County since 1986. He moved to Stonecrest 12 years ago, has been active in his Parks at Stonecrest Civic Association for eight years, and has been its president for four years.

A graphic designer, web developer and content manager, Clanton was part of the movement to create the new city, working with the Stonecrest City Alliance and Stonecrest Yes committee.

“I have been on the ground working for a clean, vibrant and thriving Stonecrest long before the city borders were drawn,” Clanton says. “I’m very proud of the work I’ve done in the area.”

Ross, an educator, has lived 33 years in DeKalb County, the last 8 years in Stonecrest. His said he has built his on education because it is a tool to help get people out of poverty.

“We have 20 percent poverty,” said Ross, who teaches 5th grade in Rockdale County Schools. “We need to make sure that people are lifted out of poverty and to make sure that they have the opportunity to get the right jobs.”

Even though creating a school district is not part of the Stonecrest’s charter, Ross said education should be a key issue for the new city because 15 percent of the city’s third graders are not reading on grade level.

“We have to do something about that,” he said. “ I know that the School Board has responsibility for our schools. I understand that. But we need another set of eyes looking at it.”

Clanton’s community involvement is deep. He participates in the Stonecrest Business Alliance, has done voter education campaigns in the Parks at Stonecrest which has 400 homeowners. He said it is one of the first communities in this South DeKalb county to have an online communications network because of his efforts.