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Democrat wants to bring diversity to school board

LAWRENCEVILLE - More than five years after helping calm racial tensions in the Shiloh community, Gladys Harris wants to be a voice for race relations on the Gwinnett County School Board.

Harris, a 40-year-old mother of three, qualified to run for the seat currently held by Dr. Robert McClure, a dermatologist who has been on the board for more than a decade.

Harris was the only minority - and the only Democrat - to qualify for local office during the first day of a candidate qualifying period.

In 2000, Harris formed Parents Against Student Injustices in Schools, a group that helped bring to light racial tensions in southern Gwinnett, even before an incident where a teenager was nearly struck by a car came to national attention.

"I want equality and justice for all children," she said, saying her goal now is to include a minority on the governing board. "I don't think we're taken seriously. ... We need minority leadership, minority voices. Gwinnett is a global community now."

Harris has since moved to the Lawrenceville area, but her youngest son was transferred back to the Shiloh district after issues of what Harris calls an "illegal search."

Harris said her campaign is not directed at a specific action against McClure, who has not yet qualified. Instead, she said it is about changing the dynamics of the board to represent the growing diversity in the community.

"There are some things that need to be addressed. We need new ideas and leadership," she said. "We have a diverse county. The board needs to reflect the county."

At Gwinnett's Republican Party headquarters, three candidates qualified for office.

For the Gwinnett County Commission, District 4 Commissioner Kevin Kenerly filed paperwork to run for a fourth term, while District 2's Bert Nasuti qualified to seek his second full term.

Rosanna Szabo, a lawyer in the solicitor's office, qualified to run for the solicitor general job being vacated by Gerald Blaney.

At the Capitol, 11 people qualified for Gwinnett County House of Representative seats and another five for Senate seats. All are incumbents.

Barrow's Rep. Terry England and Sen. Ralph Hudgens also filed their paperwork.

For local offices in Barrow, former Commissioner John King qualified for the District 5 seat that is currently held by David Dyer, who has not yet announced his intentions.

A Republican race has already shaped up for District 6, where retired Georgia Bureau of Investigation officer Daniel Thomas qualified to run against incumbent Ben Hendrix, who also submitted his paperwork.

For the school board, incumbents Connie Wehunt, Beverly Kelley and Mark Still have all qualified for another race. Amy Osier has submitted paperwork to run for the District 7 seat being vacated by Danny Rampey.

Candidates who have qualified for the July 18 primary race:

Gwinnett County

Board of Commissioners

District 2

•Bert Nasuti (i) (R)

District 4

•Kevin Kenerly (i) (R)

Solicitor

•Rosanna Szabo (R)

Board of Education

District 4

•Gladys Harris (D)

Barrow County

Board of Commissioners

District 5

•John King (R)

District 6

•Ben Hendrix (i) (R)

•Daniel Thomas (R)

Board of Education

District 3

•Connie Wehunt (i) (R)

District 4

•Beverly Kelley (i) (R)

District 7

•Amy Osier (R)

District 9

•Mark Still (R)