FulCo Board Of Registration And Elections Swears In Newest Member
Dr. Gerald Durley was sworn in as the newest member of the Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections on Tuesday, April 16, 2013 by Cathelene Robinson, Clerk of Superior Court for Fulton County.
Dr. Durley is both a professional psychologist and former minister who served as the Senior Pastor of Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. He joins the Board of Registration and Elections as the replacement appointee of the Fulton County Democratic Party to fill an unexpired term of Board Member Mary N. Long.
PHOTO COURTESY OF FULTON COUNTY OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
County Elections Office Seeks 'Meticulous' Change
BY DAVID STOKES
Ensnared in controversy since the forced resignation of its executive director last October, the Fulton Co. Office of Elections and Registration is moving "full speed ahead" with not only seeking a permanent replacement to Sam Westmoreland as the unit's top staff official, but, according to the elections board's vice chairman, procedures and policies are being "extremely meticulous" with reviewing such to afford voters a "clean and fair" electoral process heading into this November's municipal and county races.
Leslie Small, the board's second-in-command, during a recent exclusive interview, indicated that a thorough analysis has been underway the past few months to rid the department of the negativity received since Westmoreland's demise in downtown Atlanta after an Atlanta arrest for DUI, as well as prior criminal proceedings in south Georgia in 2009 being revealed. Additionally, the resignation of Roderick Edmond, Esq., as chairman of the Elections board occurred the following month, in November, as Ga. Secretary of State Sam Olens initiated an investigation following numerous complaints by voters of alleged malfeasance and other irregularities of the department that continued into last November's presidential election. Those complaints catapulted Olens' investigation, along with voters voicing concern when letters were mailed indicating either unwarranted changes in poll/precinct locations to cast ballots or indicating voters were purged from the rolls, thereby, challenging eligibility to vote in last November's all-important presidential race. Nevertheless, six months later, according to vice chairman Small, "we've been determining how best to go forward" to rid adverse media publicity and bring the office to proficiency for county voters. With Westmoreland's resignation, Sharon Mitchell has served as interim executive director while Mary Carol Cooney, a former city of Atlanta attorney, is the new board chair. Furthermore, because Ms. Mitchell has reasons for not wanting to become the permanent executive director, Small said, 16 applicants have advanced to become Elections office's top staff official. Although Mr. Small, formerly of U.S. Congressman John Lewis' office, would not identify the applicants to a reporter at presstime, he stated that the office "needs a strong executive director" to maintain and improve the quality of procedures and policy for voters during election season. Small also indicated the new executive director will be named "by the summer," in either June or July, for the county Board of Commissioners' approval. "We're being extremely meticulous to determine the best person to be in the position," the vice chairman said. Small also continued, "we're looking at all facets to improve the office," which includes the hiring of a consultant to determine an "office assessment ...with more transparency" for the most proficient operations "to make the office function properly and efficiently to regain the people's trust." Also, "time will help restore confidence in the office ... as we are being extremely careful" with hiring the next executive director, Small said. (Board Chair Cooney was unreachable at presstime.)
With the changes in the Fulton Government Center's Elections office come an addition to the board with the Rev. Gerald Durley, retired pastor of Providence Missionary Baptist Church in southwest Atlanta. Rev. Durley, one of two blacks serving on the five-member board, stated recently that he's ready to get to work since being confirmed last month. Although he replaces director Mary Long near the end of a three-year term, set for a June expiration, Durley plans to seek a full term, he indicated, while presently being immersed into assisting with the selection of a new executive director. Rev. Durley also stated his immediate tasks will be to help re-establish morale within the office and bring about training employees with various duties, along with helping bring forth a "cleaner" process for voters heading to the polls. "I am concerned with residents' needs not being properly met ... and look forward to bring about trust and respect to the office," the Tennessee State University graduate said. Additionally, Rev. Durley wants to consistently "show appreciation" to the staff while "helping voters" with adhering to elections procedure for a smooth process. "Open transparency and good communication is paramount for success," Durley said. Nevertheless, with transparency in mind, vice chairman Small, a graduate of the University of North Carolina who's the youngest, at 31, on the board, stated that while "perfection is unattainable, we are looking at all of the issues, to analyze each one to prevent the same issues from occurring again." Small, who is African-American, indicated the board is complying with Atty. General Olens' directives, as well as "finalizing the elections rolls" for this Fall's election's season. "We seek to have decent relationships with the voters" and authorities to have "clean and fair" elections, Small said. "Today, they have been cleaned up and are up-to-date" for the November 4 elections.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Nearly 200 Attend SPARC Clinic At Sadie G. Mays
Jacqueline Wright of CATCH Health Habits (3rd from left, 1st row) shares information on nutrition and exercise with members of the QLS Square Dancers Plus dance group.
PHOTO COURTESY OF SADIE G. MAYS HEALTH & REHABILITATION CENTER
Atlanta—Groups from 8 different senior centers converged upon the Sadie G. Mays Health & Rehabilitation Center in NW Atlanta for a SPARC Clinic held on Wednesday, April 17th. The seniors took advantage of the comprehensive health screenings, immunizations and information that was provided. SPARC, which stands for Sickness Prevention Achieved through Regional Collaboration, is an initiative of the Fulton County Office of Aging and the Atlanta Regional Commission. The comprehensive health fair takes place in a series of locations throughout Fulton County providing free and low cost screenings each spring and fall.
The SPARC Clinic at Sadie G. Mays included service providers from 14 organizations who offered a variety of screenings, immunizations, health information, assistance, and healthy snacks. They included the Alzheimer’s Association, Atlanta Medical Center, CATCH Health Habits, Council on Aging, Fulton County Health & Wellness, Fuqua Center for Late Life Depression, Georgia Cares, Grady Hospital, Innervision Neuromuscular Center, Open Hand, Right at Home, Sadie G. Mays Health & Rehab. Center, Starline Office of Aging, and WalMart Pharmacy. The screenings included blood sugar, blood pressure, vision, Body Mass Index, HIV, healthy mind, clinical breast exams, chair massages, nutritional education, women’s health education, colon health, and more.
“It was informative, engaging and interactive,” said Mike Olaiya, a pharmacist from the newly-opened Walmart store on M.L. King Jr. Drive. “…one of the best (health fairs) I’ve ever been to!” he continued. The health fair ran from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. It included entertainment provided by the Square Dancers Plus of Quality Living Servies, The Bowden Chorus of the H.J.C. Bowden Senior Center, hula hoop demonstrations by CATCH Health Habits, and The Dancing Divas of the Harriett G. Darnell Senior Center. Sponsors of the event included: Sysco Foods Atlanta, B & S Pest Control, Pri X-Ray, United Pharmacy Services, SouthEast LINK, Miguel Stubbs, M.D., Anonymous, Miles Johnson, M.D., Felder’s Photography Studio, Red Lobster-Camp Creek, Applebee’s Cascade, Starbuck’s-Cascade, Chick-fil-A – Camp Creek, Hospice Advantage, Gentiva Hospice,