Political Notebook: Snellville mayor goes to Guantanamo Bay

A few months ago, Snellville Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer's decision to take a police escort to the restroom drew giggles.

But Oberholtzer braved the most infamous base of the U.S. Armed Forces, flying into Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for a work assignment.

"It was very interesting," Oberholtzer said of the base, where some of the homeland security detainees considered most dangerous to America are being housed.

While he spoke to some guards at the prison, Oberholtzer said he did not visit the detention center or get near the fence bordering Cuba.

An engineer, Oberholtzer's firm is a finalist for a bid to design Naval housing. If the business gets the job, the mayor could visit the base more often.

He said what struck him most is the similarity to home and said a McDonald's across the street from where he stayed had the same food and prices as the Atlanta suburb where he lives.

"It's almost like a small American town," he said, describing the scene as he flew out of the bay. "When we left, Guantanamo Bay was lit up like any American city, but the rest of Cuba was dark."

He kept his political beliefs to himself while on the island, but Oberholtzer weighed in on the debate about releasing detainees.

"My personal opinion is Guantanamo is where they need to stay," he said, adding that the contract job is not dependent on the decision.

Thompson looking for volunteers

This weekend, Rep. Curt Thompson is leading a Community Day of Service.

He will be helping out at the Lilburn Co-Op from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, and he is asking constituents to join him.

Participants can help sort food and clothing at the Five Forks Trickum Road nonprofit, which addresses the needs of people in the Lilburn, Stone Mountain and Tucker areas.

For more information on this event, call Harriet Atsegbua at 404-463-1318.

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Camie Young can be reached via e-mail at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.