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Candidates face incumbents in Gwinnett House races

SNELLVILLE - No matter what the outcome of the Nov. 7 election is, George Wilson said he'll be back on the campaign trail Nov. 8.

Wilson, who is seeking a state House seat, said he's focused not only on the race, but on bringing about a resurgence of the Democratic party in southern Gwinnett County.

With Wilson running for District 95 against Rep. Robert Mumford and Democrat Tony Lentini squaring off against Rep. Melvin Everson, Snellville and Centerville are the only areas of Gwinnett where House incumbents face contests this November.

In Barrow, Rep. Tommy Benton, R-Jefferson, is being challenged by former House member Tommy Stephenson of Commerce.

House District 95

Wilson said he feels new energy while walking the streets of his district, which encompasses Gwinnett, Rockdale and Newton counties.

He organized efforts in the past to try to stop censorship in public libraries and to lower the pregnancy rate, but now he wants to join the state House to work on universal health care, education and taxes.

But Wilson is taking on a well-known Rockdale County man who has served as a judge and as district attorney.

Mumford said he's also knocked on doors.

He learned that neighbors are still interested in immigration, and as a member of the judiciary committee, Mumford is well-positioned to keep working on the issue.

He said he's proud of educational initiatives to reduce class sizes and increase transportation funding, and he wants to give support to the "Brain Train" idea.

"We have to look at every alternative for transportation," Mumford said. "Plus, it has the potential to be an economical assett for this side of Atlanta."

House District 106

A year after he became the first black Republican to win a contested election for state office in Georgia, Melvin Everson is once again on the campaign trail.

This time, the Snellville politician is seeking his first full term in the House of Representatives but it challenged by political newcomer Tony Lentini.

Everson said he had a pretty good first year at the Capitol, fulfilling his campaign promises of tougher illegal immigration and eminent domain laws.

But legislation that Republicans pushed to strengthen penalties against sex offenders is being challenged in court, and Everson said he wants a chance to go back and work on those laws.

He also wants to work on the voter law that requires photo identification. His special election last year was the first where photo IDs were required, but the measure has since been struck down by the courts.

Lentini said he hasn't been pleased with Everson's decision over the past year, including party-line votes on education.

The Democrat, who has worked on numerous campaigns including Zell Miller's gubernatorial campaign, said he wants to pursue his party's directives to restore education funding and the HOPE scholarship as well as provide health care to all Georgia children.

He also wants to stop outsourcing and help solve Snellville's crime and traffic

problems.

House District 31

Benton says he's enjoyed his two years in the state Legislature, but he wants to spend the next two continuing to push for a consumer bill that didn't make it into law this year. But a former state legislator stands in his way.

Benton's idea is to allow Georgians to freeze their credit report when they become victims of identity theft.

Benton said he's fulfilled his last campaign promises to keep the district informed by writing newsletters and newspaper articles as well as holding town hall meetings. He said he would continue those efforts in a second term.

Stephenson is attempting to break back into politics a decade after he left.

Elected at 25 for his first of three terms as mayor of Commerce, Stephenson quickly rose to a position of prominence as majority whip in his second term in the General Assembly.

But Stephenson left the post for an unsuccessful run against John Linder for Congress.

He said he wanted to try to get back into politics because he's heard all the rhetoric from Republicans during their rise in power, but he hasn't seen the results.

"I see them abusing power worse than the Democrats ever did," he said. "It seems like no one is holding their feet to the fire."