County candidates take stage

LAWRENCEVILLE - Candidates seeking office in numerous county races took to the auditorium stage Thursday night at a forum sponsored by the United Ebony Society and the Gwinnett County Human Relations Commission.

In the first portion of the debate, the candidates in District 1, 3 and 5 vying for a seat on the Board of Education squared off directly against one another. And it was a classic case of politicking as the incumbents praised their experience while those wanting their seats cried for change.

In the District 3 race, Jane Hendrix called for more accountability and transparency and said many parents' concerns weren't being heard by the Board and 12-year-veteran and incumbent Mary Kay Murphy.

"I've found out there are groups of people who have gone to the school board for various reasons and who felt that they left with their concerns unaddressed," Hendrix said. "That's why I'm running."

Murphy said she has maintained the same values that she campaigned upon 12 years ago.

"All children can learn. Teachers are leaders," Murphy said. "Parents are the first teachers of students. Business and civic leaders must be involved in public education. To have a great society, we must have a strong public school system."

When the second portion of the debate got under way, it was Vincent Passarielo and Earl Hendon who pegged themselves as "average guys" running against incumbents Chairman Charles Bannister and District 3 Commissioner Mike Beaudreau. It was Hendon who warned the audience that the problems residents face are not partisan.

"The issues that we have at hand are not Republican, not Democrat and not Independent," he said. "The issues that we have are moving forward to make the middle class more prosperous."

In the race for the Superior Court of the Gwinnett Judicial Circuit, the gloves came off in the race between Judge Richard Winegarden and Karen Beyers.

"All of you have the same amount of judicial experience as my opponent does," Winegarden said.